Survival Skills – Get Out and Do ItThe Fire Starter

We live in the age of electronics, a time when there is more knowledge and information available than ever before. Not only is this information easily available, it is in many formats for our convenience. In survival or life in general, knowledge is only part of the picture.

In the training manual I am still working on, each of the six elements of survival are broken down into three parts; knowledge, skills, and gear. These days many are highly involved in the knowledge part of things, blogs, news, and videos. I see many of these people becoming “gear heads” or “gear nuts.” What happens is they watch blog or video reviews and buy stuff like it’s going out of style. Then they hardly use the gear in real life.

I remember when I was quite young helping my dad and my uncle build a house for my grandparents, dad was putting in a window and driving nails in the frame, I asked him how he could do that without breaking the glass. My question was based on the fact that I would certainly have my aim off a bit and hit the glass. Dad’s words to me were simply, “I’ve pounded a lot of nails in my life, I don’t really even have to think about it.” Essentially he was saying to me it was about doing it, practicing, becoming experienced.CIMG5241

Some years ago I was asked to teach some scouts a fire starting skill using a magnesium bar. In a few minutes time they scared me to death and I had to do some preliminary training. You see when I was young, in early grade school it was common for all boys to carry a pocket knife. I grew up with a knife in my hand. This generation of kids have been raised and trained that a knife is a vicious weapon, not a tool. As a result the boys were not skilled in using a knife. We had to do a little more training in knife use and safety. The boys, however, were still awkward in working a knife as they lacked experience.

“With practice comes improved ability and that increases confidence, which bolsters attitude” -pdpeacock

I have said it many times, you can watch YouTube videos 24/7 and never be efficient at knife use, ax skills, knots and rope, etc. Nothing wrong at all with the videos, but the next step needs to happen and that is practice or what we call skill building.

When you gain knowledge, you have to put that to the test and try it, develop the skills. I Recall my youth and seeing in a book

Some guys in front of Shelter built for rain

Some guys in front of Shelter built for rain

starting fire with a knife and a flint. I am telling you I beat a knife to death trying this. What I didn’t know then was I didn’t have enough knowledge of the process to ever make it work properly. Later I learned that what happens is a hard stone with a sharp edge scrapes a tiny shaving of steel off a knife blade or steel striker. This shaving is extremely hot as the process involves a lot of friction. The hot spark can start an ember or in some cases ignite some very fine tinder.

The more times you do something the better you can become if you are observant of what is going on, and this is the other thing to remember, a person can do something a hundred times and be no more successful unless he watches what is happening and tries to improve on it.

One other thing to think about is seldom does an instructional video, blog or manual tell you every detail you really need to know to be successful in a skill, some of these nuances are only acquired with much practice.

Some years ago we were on a cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship, one of the themes they told us over and over on that cruise was to, “Get out and do it.” We would all do well to follow that advice in our survival and preparedness quest.

Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”

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