Fort Vancouver survival class schools students in firemaking skills

first_imgBrett Roth, a park guide at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, shifted back on his heels and took a deep breath.“There’s a reason we’re doing this,” he said, a bow drill lying before him after he failed, yet again, to start a fire with it.“It’s because it’s horrible,” he said.It was a good reminder of how far we’ve come in fire-starting technology. That was what Roth was demonstrating to a small crowd at Fort Vancouver’s kickoff to “Survive and Thrive: Lifeways of the Fur Trade,” a series of classes that will teach participants outdoor survival techniques, both historical and modern. Participants in the course Saturday learned hands-on techniques for starting fires — most of them easier than using a bow drill, Roth noted. Later classes will cover building shelters, tying knots and using tools.Saturday’s class was small. The few who attended built their own small fire-starter kits and practiced using them. They also tested more modern methods aided by 9-volt batteries and gum wrappers, or, that old standby, a lighter.Most authentic, however, were those fires started with the aforementioned bow drill and a metal fire striker with flint. Students also created char-cloth kits: cotton fibers slowly burned to pure charcoal in the fort’s replica forge.“We’re looking at it as a way of giving people a tangible connection to history,” said Roth, who launched the class series last year.last_img

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