Showing posts with label Bushcraft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bushcraft. Show all posts

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Now The Hard Work Begins

In case you hadn't noticed I have not made a post on my blog in quite a few month, thing is I have been crazy busy so far this year.

For one I have a new job working in a department store, it might only be part time but when my early start means I need to be up at 5 in the morning, early nights will become plenty. On top of this I have been in training, I`m sure I have mentioned this before but I have been training to become an instructor in the Army cadets.

As well as obligatory weekends away from home I had to go to the ACF County training wing two times a week, minimum.

Anyway, getting to the point, two weeks ago I had to go to the ACF training centre for 7 days to finish my training and be assessed to see if I was "competent" and knew enough, was compitent and was confident enough to be able to stand in front of a room full of 12 to 17 year olds and teach them military based subjects as per the ACF manual.

The good news is, I am, I passed the course and was graded as competent and highly competent.

Next week I have to go back to the training wing to return my issued field kit and officially be promoted from PI (Probationary Instructor) to Sergeant. In 2 weeks time I am able to return to my detachment to take up the roll of SI (Sergeant Instructor) and start teaching the Basics and One Star cadets (Basic cadets are the new recruits and one star cadets are junior cadets).

Hasn't been easy

I`m not going to lie, the past few month has had its low points and moments when I honestly thought about quitting.

One of those times was when I had to give a 15 minute lesson on "Why Things Are Seen" a field craft lesson taught to basic cadets.

I stood in front of the Training Sergeant Major and my mind went blank, I couldn't remember a thing, litterally it was possibly the worst 15 minutes I have had in a very long time.
I recorded a video about it the next day. I think that moment was one of the main times I honestly thought about quitting.

Obviously I didnt quit and I`m so happy that I didnt, the amount of confidence I gained from doing my final week long course was huge. I know where I went wrong and have learned and had time to practice planning and taking lessons and had my lessons critiqued by my peers and regular soldiers.

One of my work colleagues from the store I work in saw some of the photographs which were taken while I was on my course and told me today that I looked so comfortable and at home when I was in the field, soaking wet and tired and that this was definitely my calling.

When all is said and done, now that my training has finished, the work has only just begun and boy and I looking forward to it. 

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Keeping Warm Outdoors In Winter

As I type this my hands are freezing cold after walking my daughter to school, it is about -6°c and because we were in a bit of a rush I didn't put my gloves on, I know, rooky mistake.. At the moment my hands are so cold, I am finding it difficult to even hit the keys on my computer.
I can't help thinking that it is just as well that all I am doing is trying to write a blog post and not something important like light a fire, repair a shelter or something where I need to be able to have full control over what ever is in my hand.

Imagine if I was trying to feather a stick or clean an animal, and I couldn't hold my knife properly because my hands were so cold.
I am taking this moment as a lesson learned as to why it is important to keep your hands warm when you are out and about in the winter months, even doing the simplest of things can become almost impossible if you cant even hold the tool or hit the right key, but it's not just your hands, what if you start to shiver?

Shivering is a natural action that your body does when you get too cold, it is designed to raise your body temperature through movement. The problems start when your shivering becomes so strong that you can no longer control it, even simple things like holding a cup of tea becomes a huge challenge, and if holding a cup of tea steady is challenging you have no chance of being able to do a task which requires more concentration and a steady hand.

Layering your clothes is key to avoiding the above problems, thermal underwear and woollen jumpers are a must, wool is an excellent insulator as it traps body heat and helps stop the cold getting through to you. When I go out in the cold I usually wear at least two tee-shirts, a woollen jumper (I love thick chunky jumpers, and would wear them all year round given the chance) a fleece hoody, a body warmer and a waterproof outer coat.

You should also consider thick woollen socks as a minimum, preferably two pair, and two pair of gloves, the first pair would be thin thermal gloves with fingers and an outer pair of mittens. Mittens are ideal because they trap the warmth between your fingers. If you can get a pair of mittens where the mitt part can be removed or folded back you will be able to do any jobs where your individual fingers need to be free, without taking your mitts off, as in the "shooter mitts".
Of course a hat and scarf should also be worn to keep your head, neck and if needed your face out of the cold. Your outer coat and trousers should be waterproof so you can stay dry, remember that if any of your cloths get wet, even with sweat you should get changed into dry cloths as soon as you can, wet cloths will make you feel colder and can freeze on you if you are out in the dead of winter and you do not want that to happen.

Note: If you are planning to go out in the cold and wet DO NOT wear denim, I dont care how good they look or how comfortable they are, just dont! Denim will hold on to water, it takes for ever to dry naturally and if you are in sub zero conditions it will freeze while youre wearing it, not only that but the weight of your nice trendy trousers will almost double in weight.

Finally, if you are out and about dont sit down and do not stop until you are in a warmer area, the heat generated by your movement is what is being trapped in all those layers youre wearing, that is what is keeping you all toasty warm, if you stop for even a minute or two you will feel the cold start to seep into you. Once you are indoors or by an established fire only then can you start to remove those layers and stop.

If you are planning on camping out overnight remember to remove those layers before you get into your sleeping bag, yes it will be cold but once you are in your bag you will soon start to warm up. The last thing you want is to wake up in the morning, climb out of your nice warm bag and feel the cold hit you, only to find that you have no layers to put on because you went to bed in them and your spare cloths are wet.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Plans For 2019

It's coming to the end of the 3rd week of January already and I'm wondering how many of us are still going strong with our New Year Resolutions, or have they kind of fallen by the way side a little bit?

I didn't make any resolutions this year, I haven't for a few years now, I think that to call something a "resolution" can set you up for a fail from the start. Instead I set some goals, things I want to achieve this year.

Getting my sergeant stripes and becoming a cadet instructor is way up there but, after a meeting with the company commander and the other instructors of A coy ACF I plan to be trained as an expedition instructor helping to teach army cadets wilderness survival and bushcrafting skills, I would honestly love to do this.

First things first though, I need to get past an interview with the company 2IC and finish my instructors training before I start on my Ex-ped training, as far as I am aware I should finish my instructors training by October this year.

Not My Detachment.

In the mean time I plan to work on my fitness, I need to build up my stamina and strength so that I can walk for longer while carrying everything I need for, say a week in the wilderness. I have no plans on joining a gym, instead I want to work on my fitness the old fashioned way by putting on a backpack and getting out there and just doing it. No fancy running trainers, just a pair of ild 1980`s army issue jungle boots, my thinking is.. I almost always wear boots so if something were to happen where I had to run, I am not going to be able to just pop my trainers on and start running, so being used to running in boots seems to be a no brainer.

I also plan to work on my bushcrafting and wilderness survival skills, including tree identification, wild foods, shelter construction and much more. I also want to become a dead shot with my slingshot, not for hunting. I still go by the rules that if I dont need to eat it as a matter of survival I will not kill it, so targets it is.

A couple of years ago my lifestyle and the things I did was impacted by my health, I am determined not to let that happen this year, I want to spend as much time as I can out doors practising my survival skills, saying that, at the moment everything is kind of stalled because of family things which are going on, which are stopping me from doing much of what I want to do. These things do happen..

Finally, I plan to turn part of my garden into a veg patch and start growing basic veggies, potatoes, carrots and the like.

Friday, 5 October 2018

4 Ways to Purify Water

Whether you have gone out for a good hike in the mountains, on a camping trip or have had to bug out during a SHTF situation, one key skill everyone should know is how to purify water.

Remember the Rule of 3's? You can only live 3 days without water, with this in mind, what ever your reason for taking to the hills, you should always know where you can get water and how to clean it.
Yeah, that fresh water stream might seem crystal clear and clean but you never know what's just up stream. There could be a sewerage outlet, a dead animal or a cow having a long wee just round the corner.

You should never assume that water is clean, even if the water looks clean, you should purify it anyway. It's better to be safe than sorry.

There are a number of ways that you can purify water, the easiest by far is to boil it.


The idea that the water should boil for 5-10 minutes to be sure is not true, if anything you're wasting water by boiling it away. As soon as the water is boiling happily, it is safe to drink though you might want to wait until it has cooled down again before you drink it, or throw anyway bag in.

Water purification Tablets.

You can buy water purification Tablets almost anywhere these days, on line, in a chemist, camping and outdoor shops. All you need to do is drop a tablet in your water bottle and shake it, let it stand for about half an hour and your good to go.

If you're using iodine tables or crystals it is said that you should hold your bottle upside down with the lid slightly unscrewed to let the iodine flow out.

Using iodine tablets, crystals or water purification tablet's do kill bacteria and viruses.  The down side to the tables are, they should not be used if you are pregnant and they can leave an aftertaste.

Bleach is easy to get hold of and can be carried in small containers so not to take up too much weight.
Use one to two drops per litre of water, leave for around half an hour. Once the smell of the bleach has gone the water is purified, making sure not to use too many drops as you can run the risk of poisoning yourself.

Filter systems.
There are lots of water filtration systems on the market these days. Some are hand operated, where you pump the water from a stream or even a puddle and the water is filtered into a container ready to drink.
Other filters such as the life straw pictured below, filter are a lot quicker, simply put one end in your mouth, with the other end in your water source and suck.

Now for the cons.
Boiling water does kill most of the bacteria present but it does not kill all bacteria. Boiling water does not get rid of chemical pollutants. It also does not get rid of the bad smell some water might have.
Any bits of debris, twigs, grit and anything else will still be there, so will require further filtering through a cloth or the like.

OK technically, if you use bleach to purify water, you are not purifying it, youre disinfecting it, keep in mind that any pathogen cryptosporium could be resistant to any halogen(In the case of bleach, chlorine) Source. Either way, if you follow the the guide above you will be able to make water safe to drink.
Again, if you have any bits and bobs floating round in your water, they will still be there once the water is disinfected.

Filter Systems.
The only real con to filtering your water in my opinion is expense and space taken up in your backpack (depending on the filter system you choose).
Most filter systems these days can filter out most pollutants and small bits of debris. Some, such as the life straw and other similar products can filter water right from source to your mouth, meaning you dont have to wait for any chemical reaction to take place or for the water to cool down.

To end, there are many more ways to purify and filter water, it is down to you which ones you choose to take with you, after a bit of research.
Me? At the moment I go for the boiling and purification tablet method, but thats only because I dont have the money to buy a couple of life straws.

Take care

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