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Outdoor Survival Skills

Starting a Fire With a Bow Drill Is Harder Than it Looks



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I’d argue that for many men (and more than a few women), there is no badge of merit, no boon of confidence more desirable than starting a fire without a match. “I can build fire from nothing” seems like a great way to win anything: cocktail-party chatter, free drinks, a date, your life on a frigid night.

Wilderness warriors might have access to mosquito-size blowtorches now, but knowing you can use the knowledge of your Cro-Magnon forebears to bring forth a blaze from nothing more than your hands, sweat, and a couple of sticks feels like the pinnacle of self-reliance. I hope never to find myself in a survival situation without a Bic, but if it happens, I won’t be the guy with hypothermia.

Admittedly, I’m a little obsessed with emergency fire making. I’ve sparked a flame from flint and knives, with cell-phone batteries and steel wool, and a spate of other improvised tools. During a survival course, I even used a fire bow employing friction to generate a glowing coal. But I cheated: The tools were built for me; all I had to do was saw like a maniac until my exhaustion birthed an ember. I’d never lit a fire using items procured in the field by myself.

So when it came time to zero in on a technique this time around, the choice was easy. I decided to return to the fire bow—partially out of pride (could I do it without help?), and also because it provides a natural mechanical advantage over simply rubbing two sticks together using only your hands. Plus: YouTube is littered with bushcraft survivalist tutorials that make it look easy.

On a dry afternoon (no sense battling rain on my first try), I headed into the Washington woods, vowing not to emerge until I’d warmed my hands over a matchless fire. Procuring raw materials from the forest floor proved easy: a flat, thin plank for a fireboard; an inch-thick, 8-inch long spindle; a palm-size chunk for the handhold; and a curved stick perfect for my bow. To mimic a survival situation, I used a bootlace for the bowstring.

I then used my knife to whittle and refine my tools: I cut inch-diameter divots in both handhold and fireboard to hold the spindle and a notch in the fireboard’s hole for the coal to fall out into my tinder bundle. I hacked at the ends of the spindle to create rounded points. I noticed my rough-hewn fire bow kit lacked the lacquer-smooth polish of the premade set I’d used years before; mine still had bark, and the fireboard, made of old spruce wood, seemed to crumble easily. But, in a nod to my Cro-Magnon ancestors, I hadn’t shaved in a while, which I thought might make up some of the difference.

bow drill
Making a fire with a bow drill. (Photo: Nicki1982 / iStock via Getty)

With set made, I recalled the position and form I’d learned in survival class—and which I’d seen repeated by the khaki-and-camo bushcraft gurus on YouTube. I placed my left foot on the board and right knee on the ground, with left wrist braced against my shin and my hand firmly gripping the handhold to press the drill into the board. I picked up the bow with my right hand and started sawing.

Immediately, the spindle popped out of the loop in the bowstring and clattered away. No problem—just use more pressure and loosen the bowstring. I returned, drawing the bow back and forth with speed, only to see the shoelace spinning around the spindle instead of turning it. Damn. Tighten the bowstring again, but not too much. Finally, a spinning spindle: But instead of producing a smooth, smoking coal factory, my spindle juddered and bounced in its notch. Sweat poured into my eyes and my back twitched. Keep at it, caveman, I thought. Life or death. You are the master of nature.


I spat and kicked at the grass after my drill blew open the notch, shredding the fireboard’s edge. After carving a new notch and applying another two hours of labor, I’d produced a pinch of tan sawdust—not the fine, black powder that precedes a life-giving ember. But the sawdust felt a little warm to the touch. Positive reinforcement. I got back to work on a fresh set of blisters.

As detailed as YouTube tutorials are, they can’t convey the interplay of wood and spindle—when to speed up, slow down, back off, or add pressure. One does not simply walk into the woods and conjure a fire without practice.

Over the course of another two hours, I received a lone, faint sign of encouragement: a wisp of smoke escaping my borehole like a strand of spider silk. I ignored the cramp in my forearm and sawed with renewed vigor…until the shoelace started sliding on the spindle again. I dropped to the ground, vowing now to trade in my fire bow and beard for hair gel and a martini.

In prehistoric Europe, early Homo sapiens and Neanderthals both had access to fire, showed signs of intelligence, and competed for the same resources. We don’t entirely know why one species won out over the other. But I’d like to think that it was because if my Cro-Magnon cousin had access to a pocket blowtorch, he’d have been smart enough to use it.

The Verdict: FAIL

With better materials and more time, I’m sure a motivated hiker can conjure fire from nothing. But I think I’ll start packing three lighters.

Originally published in 2015; last updated February 2022

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Why You Need A Generator TODAY




In any survival scenario, having a reliable source of electrical power can significantly enhance your ability to weather emergencies and sustain your family’s well-being. While there are various ways to generate and store electricity, one of the most critical components for survivalists is a generator. Here, we’ll explore different methods of generating power and emphasize the importance of having a generator as part of your survival strategy.

The Importance of Electrical Power in Survival Situations


Electricity is often taken for granted until it’s no longer available. In a survival situation, power outages can disrupt essential services, including communication, refrigeration, heating, and medical equipment. Having a reliable power source can mean the difference between a manageable situation and a crisis. Here’s why electrical power is crucial:


Maintaining communication with the outside world during an emergency is vital. Powering radios, cell phones, and other communication devices allows you to stay informed and reach out for help if needed.

Food Preservation

Electricity is essential for running refrigerators and freezers, which keep your food supplies from spoiling. This is particularly important when you’ve stockpiled perishable items or rely on a homegrown food supply.

Heating and Cooling

In extreme weather conditions, having the ability to heat or cool your living space is crucial for comfort and safety. Powering fans, heaters, or air conditioning units can help maintain a livable environment.

Medical Equipment

For those with medical needs, having a reliable power source to run medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, CPAP machines, and other devices is non-negotiable.

Different Ways to Generate Electrical Power

Several methods can be employed to generate electrical power, each with its advantages and limitations. Here’s an overview of some common options:

Solar Power

Solar power is a popular choice among survivalists due to its sustainability and low environmental impact. Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, which can be stored in batteries for later use. While solar power is an excellent long-term solution, it’s dependent on sunlight availability and requires a significant initial investment.

Wind Power

Wind turbines generate electricity by harnessing wind energy. This method can be effective in areas with consistent wind patterns. However, like solar power, wind energy is weather-dependent and requires specific conditions to be viable.


If you have access to a flowing water source, a micro-hydro system can generate electricity by utilizing the kinetic energy of flowing water. This method is highly reliable but limited to locations with suitable water sources.

The Critical Role of Generators


While renewable energy sources like solar and wind are excellent for long-term sustainability, having a generator is crucial for immediate and reliable power during emergencies. Here’s why a generator is essential for survivalists:

Reliability and Immediate Power Supply

Generators provide a reliable and immediate source of power regardless of weather conditions. Unlike solar panels or wind turbines, generators can produce electricity on demand, ensuring that you have power when you need it most.


Generators are highly versatile and can power a wide range of devices, from small electronics to larger appliances like refrigerators, heaters, and medical equipment. This versatility makes them invaluable during power outages or emergencies.

Ease of Use

Modern generators are designed for ease of use, with straightforward setup and operation. Portable generators, in particular, are easy to transport and can be used in various locations, making them a flexible solution for survivalists.

Choosing the Right Generator

Selecting the right generator for your needs is crucial. Here are some factors to consider:

Power Output

Determine the power output you need by calculating the wattage of the devices you plan to run simultaneously. Generators come in different sizes, so choose one that can handle your power requirements without overloading.

Fuel Type

Generators can run on several different fuels, including gasoline, diesel, propane, and natural gas. Consider the availability and storage requirements of the fuel type you choose. Propane and natural gas are often preferred for their longer shelf life and cleaner burning.


If you anticipate needing to move your generator frequently, a portable model is a good choice. Portable generators are easier to transport and store.

Maintaining Your Generator

Proper maintenance of your generator ensures it will be ready to perform when you need it. Regularly check and change the oil, keep the fuel tank clean, and test-run the generator periodically to ensure it’s in good working order. Store your generator in a dry, accessible location and keep extra fuel and necessary parts on hand.


For survivalists, having a reliable source of electrical power is not just a convenience—it’s a necessity. While renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are excellent long-term solutions, the importance of having a generator cannot be overstated. Generators provide immediate, reliable power in any situation, ensuring you can maintain communication, preserve food, regulate temperature, and power essential medical equipment. By selecting the right generator and maintaining it properly, you can enhance your preparedness and ensure your family’s safety and comfort during any emergency.


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Outdoor Survival Skills

BREAKING: Donald Trump Survives Assassination Attempt!



( – Donald Trump was whisked off the stage at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, after apparent gunshots rang through the crowd.


Trump was showing off a chart of border crossing numbers when shots started ringing through the crowd. Trump could be seen reaching with his right hand toward his neck. There appeared to be blood on his face.



He quickly ducked behind the riser as agents from his protective detail rushed the stage, and screams rang out from the crowd. The shots continued as agents tended to him on stage.



His motorcade has left the venue. His condition was not immediately known.


This is a developing story.


Copyright 2024.

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Be Prepared: Surviving a Total Loss of Fresh Water Supply




If there’s one thing every prepper knows, it’s that disaster can strike at any moment. This can lead to significant disruptions in your daily life, such as a water shortage. Whether it’s a short-term issue like a frozen pipe or a long-term crisis like a total loss of fresh water supply, being prepared is crucial. Understanding the causes and knowing how to respond can make all the difference.

Types of No-Water Emergencies

Several occurrences can lead to water contamination or a complete lack of running water. Here are some common scenarios:

  • Broken Pipe: Broken pipes can occur due to aging infrastructure, extreme weather conditions, or accidental damage. When a pipe bursts, it can result in the loss of access to clean, running water and potentially cause significant water damage to your property.
  • Contaminated Water: Chemical spills, sewage backups, and other forms of pollution can render water supplies unsafe. Even if the water appears clear, it might be contaminated and unfit for drinking, cooking, or hygiene.
  • Frozen Water: In regions with harsh winters, frozen pipes are a common issue. When temperatures drop below freezing, water inside the pipes can freeze, causing the pipes to burst. This can lead to significant water damage and loss of running water.

How to Survive Without Clean or Running Water

While water outages are typically short-term in developed countries, extended periods without access to clean water can occur. Here are some essential tips to ensure your family’s survival during such times:

Stock Up on Bottled or Jugged Water: Always expect the unexpected. The general recommendation is to have at least 1 gallon of water per person per day. For a family of four, this means at least 28 gallons per week for drinking, cooking, and hygiene.

Have an Alternate Water Source: In case of long-term water outages, having an alternative water source can be lifesaving. Options include:

  • Well: If feasible, drilling a well can provide a reliable source of groundwater. However, well construction and maintenance are complex and may require professional assistance.
  • Rainwater Collection: Setting up a rainwater harvesting system can help you capture and store precipitation for later use. Ensure that your collection surfaces are clean and have a method to filter and purify the water before use.
  • Local Freshwater Source: Natural water sources like streams, rivers, lakes, or ponds can be used, but must be treated and purified to remove pathogens and impurities.
  • Filled Bathtub/Sinks: During imminent water crises, fill bathtubs and sinks to store additional water.
  • Proper Water Storage and Conservation: Invest in high-quality water storage containers and keep them in a cool, dark place. Use food-grade barrels, tanks, or jerry cans. Also, practice water conservation by using water efficiently and recycling greywater where possible.

Water Purification Methods

Having multiple water purification methods is essential for ensuring access to safe drinking water. Here are some methods to consider:

  • Drops/Tablets: Chlorine, bleach, or iodine tablets can be added to water to kill microorganisms. Follow the instructions carefully for effectiveness and safety.
  • Boiling Method: Boiling water for at least one minute (three minutes at higher altitudes) is one of the simplest ways to purify water.
  • Multimedia Filters: Filters using activated carbon, charcoal, or reverse osmosis technology can remove contaminants, including heavy metals and microorganisms.
  • LifeStraw: This modern product can filter up to 4,000 liters of water, making it a practical tool for emergency water purification.
  • Liquid Chlorine/Bleach: Use suitable chlorine or bleach products for water purification. Ensure that you follow guidelines to avoid health risks.
  • Desalinator: For those living near the ocean, a desalinator can convert seawater into potable water through reverse osmosis.

Practical Tips for Water Use

Knowing how to use each water source efficiently is vital. Here are some tips:

  • Drinking: Allocate a strict daily water intake to ensure hydration. Mark water levels on bottles or jugs to control usage.
  • Cleaning: Use disinfecting wipes and sanitizing sprays to maintain cleanliness when water is scarce.
  • Bathing: Utilize sponge baths, outdoor showers, or waterless cleaning products to maintain personal hygiene.
  • Non-Potable Uses: Assess the quality of available non-potable water sources and use them for tasks like toilet flushing and clothes washing.
  • Emergency Cases: Keep clean water available for treating injuries, using products like disinfectant wipes, alcohol, and clean towels.
  • Extreme Use Cases: Hidden/Forgotten Water Sources
  • Water Heater: In an emergency, your water heater can be a valuable source of water. Properly drain the heater to access the water inside.
  • Pool Water: With proper treatment and purification, pool water can be used for various needs during a crisis.
  • Oxygenate Flat Tasting Water: Improve the taste of stored water by using agitation, aeration, mechanical devices, or adding small amounts of hydrogen peroxide.

The loss of fresh water, whether short-term or long-term, can pose significant challenges. By stocking up on water, having alternative sources, and knowing how to purify and use water efficiently, you can ensure your family’s survival during a water crisis. Start preparing today—before it’s too late.

How prepared are you for a water emergency? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below and help others learn how to stay safe and hydrated in times of crisis.


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