I ran across a video on youtube the other say that echo’s something that has been on my mind lately. There are a lot of instructional video’s on making primitive fire with a bow drill or what have you which is great! I love that so many people are into bushcraft. Also, practice is crucial because we all should be proficient at starting fires with a variety of methods. And let’s face it, as woodsman we all love fire!
However things start to come apart when it comes to practical application. A lot of these guys are demonstrating with wood they got at the hardware store or at least pre made and tested pieces of wood.
Why is that a problem? Because I think that, if we’re ever to really become proficient at fire making, we need to be able to do it, from scratch, out in the woods away from anything modern, be it materials or tools.
How many people are going to carry their bow, spindle, hearth board and such out into the woods every time? I imagine that when we really need to rely on these methods is when all other methods have failed or are not available. Something happened and you’re out in the woods on a long trek, your matches are wet and you realize you lost your firesteel somehow. You counted on fire for the night and it’s too late to head back out. Something like that anyway right?
Making fire necessarily extends to being able to do it, from scratch, when need requires it. Dave Canterbury of the Pathfinder School made a video recently about this very thing which is what finally prompted me to make this post and comment on this issue.
Remember, practice your skills often and in whatever manner you can manage. But also take the time once in a while to apply them to a scenario in which they were intended to be used. You’ll be a better woodsman for it!