Archive for : September, 2014

post image

7 Common Types of Firestarters

By: Ghost

One of the cornerstones of a survival plan is the ability to make fire at will. Fire has played a vital role in Humanity’s survival over the ages. Fire has given us warmth, warded off predators, cooked our food, signalled over great distances, been instrumental in the fashioning of tools and weapons, purified our water, been used as a weapon of war and ultimately been a mysterious force of power. However you look at it, fire is power. If you possess the ability to reliably make fire in any situation your chances of survival increase dramatically.  From a preparedness perspective, you should always have a lighter and some waterproof matches in your vehicle along with a candle.  It can keep you alive if you ever have to spend a night in your car.  If you’re out on the trail, always carry at least two methods to make fire – I recommend a lighter and a ferro rod & striker (my personal favourites).

To make fire, you need to understand it’s basic principles. Fire needs three elements to form:

  1. Heat

  2. Oxygen and;

  3. Fuel

Fire Triangle

Fire Triangle

If any of the above are absent, any efforts to start a fire will fail. Over the centuries, the goal of someone starting a fire would usually be to create a spark or ember within a tinder bundle and coax it to flame. In more modern times, advances in metallurgy, chemistry and manufacturing, matches and lighters (as well as modern versions of ancient technologies) have given us the abilities to produce flame on-demand. These days, natural gas and propane are at our fingertips to heat our homes and water, create mood from gas fireplaces, produce flames on our barbecues and roast turkeys in our ovens. But if you take that away, how can you replace it?

To this end, I’d like to go over some of the ways you can make fire. Some are better than others, but all have their pros and cons. Let’s take a look:

 

1. Bow Drill:

This is essentially “rubbing two sticks together” and getting the fire from friction. If knowledgeable and practiced, you can get a fire going anywhere you can find wood.  To build a bow drill, you need to fashion the following components:  a board, spindle, handle, the string and, the bow itself.   I will expand on this in a later post on fire-making.

Pros: Knowledge weighs nothing. You can do this almost anywhere if you know what you’re doing.
Cons: Doesn’t work well if wet. Different woods are easier/harder. Without cordage, high-skill level required to make the bow.

Primitive Bow Drill

Primitive Bow Drill

Bow Drill in Action

Bow Drill in Action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Flint and Steel:

This combination readily produced a spark which could be coaxed into an ember and then a flame within a tinder bundle.  To use this method, you would hold the flint in one hand and, using the striker in the other hand, strike the flint piece while keeping the tinder as close as possible to the flint to catch the spark from the striker.  Keeping the tinder on top of the flint is a good option to reduce the distance of travel for the spark.  Higher-carbon steel strikers work best.

Pros: Has been a mainstay method of firelighting for thousands of years, is light-weight, works in more inclement weather.
Cons: Requires some skill to use, usually requires a prepared tinder to catch the spark.

Flint Flake and Steel Striker.

Flint Flake and Steel Striker.

3. Fire Piston:

A simple and old-ways method to create an ember by compression of air within a cylinder. By ramming a piston with a small amount of tinder in the end cavity the force creates heat and ignites the material. With the ember glowing, it can be carefully but quickly delivered into a waiting tinder bundle to begin a fire.

Pros: Durability and longevity (lasts almost forever), small, light-weight.
Cons: Requires fine tinder and a practiced hand to use.

 

Fire Piston

Fire Piston

 

4. Glass or lens:

The power of the sun can be harnessed and focused into a powerful ray of heat and light which can enable you to directly ignite flammable material. With the right angle and focus, you can burn leaves and grasses in your tinder bundle into a jolly flame.  Tip:  If trying to ignite something light in colour, darkening it with some dry earth, charcoal or a dark marker would absorb the light energy more readily.  The magnifying method can be used with eye glasses, a clear plastic bag or a water bottle to achieve a similar effect with practice.  Even a polished pop can base would work to focus the sunlight.

Pros: Very light weight. Is very fast in ideal conditions.
Cons: Requires direct sunlight, much easier in the hotter months.

Magnifying Glass Fire

Magnifying Glass Fire

Magnifying glass fire

Magnifying glass fire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Magnesium and Ferrocerium (ferro) rods with steel:

A more modern take on a classic. Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry (2000) describes Ferrocerium as “a man-made metallic material which gives off hot sparks at temperatures of 1,600 ºC (3,000º F) when scraped against a rough surface such as rigid steel”. In essence, it does what the old stuff did, but better. When coupled with magnesium shavings in a tinder bundle, this combination is highly reliable in modern survival applications to get a fire started. You just aim the rod in the direction where you want the sparks to go and push the scraper down in that direction, of pull the rod out from the scraper.  Either way, you’ll get a shower of sparks which will hopefully get your tinder smouldering.

Pros: Can be very compact. Works when wet or cold. Very reliable. Lasts for thousands of strikes. Relatively inexpensive. Easy to use.
Cons: Ferro rods come in various qualities. Sub-par manufacturing can create poor performance.

 

Ferro Rod and Steel Striker

Ferro Rod and Steel Striker

 

6. Matches (waterproof, strike-anywhere, survival-type):

Matches are just so simple and, if kept dry, an almost sure bet to start a fire in a non-windy area. There are also special “survival” matches which are waterproof and windproof and will flare-burn for 15 seconds no matter the wind or rain.

Pros: Very compact, light-weight and inexpensive. Can usually start a fire with minimal tinder.
Cons: Must be kept dry – unless “survival” type, can be blown out easily.

Strike-Anywhere Matches

Strike-Anywhere Matches

7. Cigarette Lighter (butane or fluid):

This is the tops. The pinnacle of human fire-making achievement. Now we can carry fire in our pockets and can bring forth flame in an instant regardless of wind, cold, or even rain in some cases. A relatively inexpensive option, at the very least, you should have one in you vehicle and survival kits. Maybe even carrying one with you…just in case.

Pros: Inexpensive, reliable, makes flame and sparks. Durable. Lasts a long time.
Cons: Has finite fuel. Some can be affected by water on the striker preventing sparking.

Lighters, Adjustable flame (green) and non-adjustable (red).

Lighters, Adjustable flame (green) and non-adjustable (red).

 

 

I hope this gives you an overview of the 7 Common Types of Firestarters. In the next post, I will talk about how to use these fire starters with various tinder options to get your fires going. Regardless of which method you prefer, always carry more than one. Redundancy will always benefit you should a piece of your kit fail. My personal favourites: a Bic lighter and the Light My Fire- Army ferro rod and steel. Simple, easy, effective, reliable. But you be your own judge, test them out and make up your own mind. You should be proficient in as many as you can.

In the meantime, be safe. Plan, practice and survive…without fear.

Cheers,

Ghost.

post image

Training Review: Art of the Rifle, by Bug Out Canada

Training Review:

Art of the Rifle, by Bug-Out Canada  (  http://bugout-canada.ca/index.html )

By: Ghost

I recently had the privilege of attending Bug-Out Canada’s “Art of the Rifle” training course in the Dorset area of Central Ontario.

As a course that starts on a Friday evening till Sunday afternoon, the Art of the Rifle (AotR) class was comprehensive, refreshing and enjoyable.  I approach all training classes in the same way, whether new material or well-worn refresher – I learn like it’s for the first time.  I believe this helps to stave-off bad habits and sharpen skills, not to mention reduce ego and arrogance.

Instructors Allen and Dan began Friday’s in-class session with the Principles of Marksmanship, shooting positions, safety and handling.  They were very attentive to all in attendance and were thorough in covering all of the relevant basics.  The instructors were very hands-on in their approach.  After various initial safety briefings, students were walked through the theoretical and philosophical aspects of marksmanship.  Ranging, holding, posture, positioning, use of a sling, weapon mechanics and ballistics, targeting, physical and physiological affects on marksmanship as well as additional safety considerations.  Both Dan and Allen walked the talk with supportive demonstrations of techniques.  As promised, we were taught using the “crawl, walk, run” method of instruction.

 

The range.

The range.

 

The atmosphere was very fun, yet professional and safe at all times.  Dan and Alan kept things light with several well-timed jokes and a few instructional videos of “what not to do”.

Saturday morning, after a nice breakfast we headed out to the range.  It was pouring rain.  Once we arrived and set up, practical instruction began.  Safety briefings, range familiarization and more safety briefings were covered before shooting began.  The weapon of the day was a .22 cal.  Most had Ruger 10/22s but I did see a Marlin Papoose and a Mossberg as well.  We did a review of the previous night’s theories and then got into it.  BANG BANG BANG!

 

Taking careful aim to put rounds down-range.

Taking careful aim to put rounds down-range.

 

Now, I have been a member of the Canadian Army since 1998 and consider myself a pretty good shot, but I myself saw improvement to my shooting and certainly saw others in the class improve by leaps and bounds.

Both instructors were vigilant in maintaining safety while hawkishly pointing out flaws in technique and making adjustments as appropriate.  By lunch (enormous home-made, roast beef sandwiches courtesy of Allen – YUM!), we were all “on paper”.

 

After the 'zero'.

After the ‘zero’.

 

As the sun broke in the afternoon, the students were becoming more comfortable with the mechanics and even those without any shooting experience were improving.  Even through the weather, the mood was light yet professional.

The training culminated in a shoot-off for a prize (t-shirt) to see who had the best groupings and finally, who could hit a toonie coin (for you Americans, a “toonie” is a $2 Canadian coin) at 25 yards.  I am happy to report that I am the proud owner of the t-shirt…and a toonie with a .22 cal round in it.  The weather was nice and we kept shooting until all the ammo was gone.  Better to shoot it than carry it back home.

 

Smooth.

Smooth.

 

Ultimately, I found “Art of the Rifle” to be a very positive and enriching course.  The training was solid, taught by professional instructors fully invested in bringing out the best in their students.  I firmly believe that using the principles and techniques taught in this course you can easily achieve a high level of shooting proficiency in a short time with practice.  I also feel that the course is worth much more than they are charging versus similar training – and the quality of knowledge and training is almost impossible to come by unless you travel out of the country.  I would highly recommend it to anyone.

For more information about Bugout Canada, Allen and Dan, you can find them at their website:  http://bugout-canada.ca/index.html  .  The Art of the Rifle is listed under their Tactical Kinetics training offerings.  Do check them out.

Till next time, prepare, practice and be positive.  Be free from fear and survive.

-Ghost

 

****UPDATE:  I will be attending the “Fight To Freedom” course (from their Tactical Kinetics catalogue) with Bug Out Canada in October 2014.  It is an unarmed combat/self-defence course.  Check out their website for course description and register!  Review to follow.****

Subscription

Enter your primary email address to get our free newsletter.
You can leave the list at any time. Removal instructions are included in each message.

Powered by WPNewsman

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On Google PlusVisit Us On PinterestCheck Our Feed