Have you ever taken a wilderness survival class, or maybe read books about wilderness survival? (Hey, there's even an app for that!) Those are all greats ways of acquiring valuable skills -- especially the survival courses, which offer hands-on practice and feedback from the instructors. But practice -- more of it -- is the only sure key to keeping those skills sharp and honing any new ones you pick up along the way.
Think of it this way: Would you rather find out that your fire-making skills aren't so hot on a rainy, windy night when you're already in the first stages of hypothermia, or in a relatively comfortable practice setting? Not only does practicing survival skills like fire starting or shelter building help you figure out what works and what doesn't (before it really matters), it also teaches you the confidence and muscle memory you need to replicate those skills in a stressful, less-than-favorable situation.
Want some bonus points? Once you've got the basics down, practice those skills of yours in more challenging conditions. Better yet, have your hiking buddies over and make a game of it: Who can build a fire the fastest in the rain? Who can build the fastest shelter? (Do make sure you're safe and legal with the fire, though.)
While you're at it, check out our expert on survival skills -- she's got some great tips for you!