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“Without the context, it’s just arts and crafts.” — Steve Watts (1947-2016)
In life, if we do anything for long enough, we begin to question our motivation for doing it, and bushcraft is certainly no exception. Why do we spend so much of our precious time learning skills that 21st-century technology has rendered practically obsolete? What’s the point in spending hours, days, even weeks braintanning buckskin, or perfecting our friction fire lighting technique, in a world where all our basic needs can be met with a swipe of a credit card? There are of course no simple answers to these questions. For some the focus is primarily on wilderness survival and the development of practical skills for adventure far away from civilisation. To others it’s about reconnecting with our ancestral past through the practise of primitive technology and experiential archaeology. Whatever our motivations, the one common denominator is context.
Keeping skills in context was at the very core of the Global Bushcraft Symposium in Alberta, Canada, which we attended in June. This incredible event was the first of its kind since the international Survival Instructors Symposium in 1995, and saw a return of some of the leading figures from the world of bushcraft and survival, including Mors Kohanski, Lars Fält and Andre Francois Bourbeau. Also in attendance were a host of instructors from around the globe including Dave Wescott , David Holliday, Les Stroud and of course our own Paul Kirtley and Dr Lisa Fenton. A full review of this momentous event will be featured in a future episode of the magazine.
In this issue Ed Stafford will be exploring the law of attraction, looking at the benefits of just following your instincts for navigation, as well as finding the things you need in life (all magazine content detail on page 4). Mr friction fire himself, Dave Watson, makes a return in our new Bushcraft Basics series, with a look at the Bow Drill, and Ian Nairn will be showing us how to make a budget tinder box. Paul Donovan considers that all important subject of hygiene in the outdoors, while Laura Stafford discusses anxiety and how to deal with it. Megan Hine writes about expecting the unexpected, and how to prepare mentally and practically for time in the wild.
Lofty Wiseman recounts his experiences of setting up his survival school after leaving the army, and Torbjörn Selin looks at basic first aid skills. In his 80:20 Rule of Sustainability article, Rich Harpham looks at ways each of us can minimise our impact, while Tim Gent completes the account of Noonmark’s return to the water.
Miranda Gent introduces us to the Peg loom, while Marc Cox reconstructs the past in part 1 of Building a Saxon Dwelling. And if you’ve ever wondered about Cyber Tracking, John Rhyder explains. Finally, Steve Evison introduces his Nearly Wild Camping scheme.