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What is bushcraft?

What is Bushcraft? Dave Watson of Woodland Survival Crafts explains the term, the ethos and the skills involved.

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The term bushcraft originally referred to the skills of living/surviving in the Australian or African Bush. In the UK we have taken hold of the word and adapted it, widening its use to encompass the many special aspects of the subject.

For me, it brings together some key/magical ingredients: adventure, creativity, inspiration, survival skills, which are all-in-all good for wellbeing.

At the heart of good bushcraft is a philosophy that focuses on “working with our environment,” rather than a focus on disaster survival where you do whatever you need to in order to survive the immediate situation. For me bushcraft should also challenge people's perceptions/the way they see their environment.

What does bushcraft involve?

using nettle cordage & a bow saw to start a fire

The sort of skills that bushcraft includes are: effective shelter building, responsible fire lighting, campfire gadgets & cooking, identifying and gathering wild foods, string making, tracking, whittling, flint knapping.

There are a lot more things we could mention but perhaps it is a good idea to get to understand what is at the heart of bushcraft: one of the key elements is that it will heighten your understanding of your surroundings.

Who can get involved?

It really can be for anyone - at the age of 2 my daughter spent a night in a cave with me. She loved it so much we spent 4 nights in it that year.

Benefits of participation

“The practice of Bushcraft shows many unexpected results. The five senses are sharpened, and consequently the joy of being alive is greater. The individual’s ability to adapt, improvise is developed to a remarkable degree. This in turn leads to increased self confidence. Self confidence and the ability to adapt to a changing environment and to overcome difficulties is followed by a rapid improvement in the individual’s daily work. This in turn leads to advancement and promotion. Bushcraft, by developing adaptability, provides a broadening influence, a necessary counter to offset the narrowing influence of modern specialism. The practice of Bushcraft conserves and does not destroy wildlife.”
In the 1970s Richard Graves wrote a book called Bushcraft. In his opening paragraph he wrote this quite prophetic statement.

Where can we go to do bushcraft?

There are a good number of companies who run courses ranging from a family fun session to a full week for adults. Each year many new companies emerge offering exciting looking packages. Some will be excellent, some mediocre and some poor or even dangerous.

Questions to ask: who is the main person behind the business? What is their background? Have they a real passion for what they do or is it just a business venture?

Local Wildlife Trusts and National Parks often offer simple daytime packages or sessions that might include shelter building and fire lighting."

See also

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Bow Drills

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Using a bow drill is an advanced fire lighting technique that requires practice. This Bow Drill kit is designed and made by Woodcraft Survival Crafts, a company that provides bushcraft courses. The kit includes a bow, drill, base board and double bearing ...

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