Monday, April 18, 2016

Bushcraft Class Review

A few weeks ago, I attended a basic Bushcraft class, taught by an instructor  I've trained with before. Indeed, I would consider this instructor a friend and a brother. He's a quality guy. And a course is made or broken with the quality of the instructor.

The topics were simple: building shelter and building fire.

The shelters we were building were primitive. No tents allowed. A simple lean-to was the foundation. We covered concepts such as finding a good location, setting up a horizontal frame on the structure, and proper angle and height.

Many other concepts were discussed. Our instructor was patient and thorough. Specific needs were accounted for with each position. Students paired up - I had the Mrs. with me - and we found our location and built our shelter. The instructor came around and gave personalized suggestions for each pair.

Kids made their shelters, too. Some of the kids did better than others. Some of the kids did better than some of the adults.

After we built shelter, we built fire. It was a challenging day for fire as it had rained a lot leading up to the class and even rained during the class. Nevertheless, fire was built. No excuses.

We discussed such common topics as a fire requires fuel, heat, and oxygen; proper types of starter material (cedar bark is great!); good fuel for a long lasting fire; and others.

Some folks used different starting materials - some even used specific fire starting solid fuels. The most effective seemed to be finely grated cedar bark, dryer lint, and Vaseline - soaked cotton balls. To my knowledge, nobody used scraped magnesium - I keep on of those in my bugout bag - however, I have successfully built fires with it before.

Many different spark starters were tried. Cigarette lighters proved ideal, but flint rods worked well once the user figured out how to make it spark. 

Our instructor demonstrated putting increasingly larger fuel on the flames to build the fire up.

My wife and kids learned a lot. I learned some, too. A good time was had by all. Special thanks to the instructor, who shall remain un named for OPSEC and PERSEC purposes. Special thanks also to my other friend and brother who volunteered use of his land to the 30+ participants.


  1. one of the things i carry in my kit is an aluminum key chain pill container (couple bucks at walgreens) full of magnesium drill shavings. CAREFULLY run a 1/4 inch bit thru your mag block and collect up the shavings. i use a metal container coz its waterproof and wont build static. its easy to tap a goodly amount oyt ehen ya need it rayher than try to scrape it. my starter is a blast match. everything i carry is one handed operation. practice using stuff with your dominant hand in a mitten with the thumb duct taped down..... just doing that made a whole bunch of believers out of a group of civilian medevac aircrew.....

    1. Very insightful. Thank you for reading and commenting.


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