Steve Watts Bow Drill (1985 video)

As our great friend Steve Watts says, “…without the context, it’s just arts and crafts.”

To briefly put into context, the video below was shot in 1985, almost 30 years ago. That was BEFORE the internet. You remember, that time in our history when people actually shared outdoor living skills in person because they didn’t have a choice.

In reality though, it wasn’t that long ago that folks like Steve, Larry Dean Olsen, David Wescott, Errett Callahan, David Holladay, and others were rediscovering these skills… skills that so many people are proficient at nowadays because of the internet.

Seton_Bow_DrillAs a reminder, the book Outdoor Living Skills written by Olsen was published in 1967. It was around this time people became interested in outdoor skills again. I say again, because I believe the first time was during the Golden Age of Camping (1880 – 1930) of which Watts is so fond. A time when folks like Ernest Thompson Seton taught these skills to his Woodcraft Indians (which eventually became the BSA) and was reintroducing primitive skills to Native Americans like in the picture to the right. Interestingly, the Indians originally from the area which is now the lower 48 states pretty much used the hand drill.

To me, this video is a late snap-shot of that recent history to be treasured for what these men and women contributed to our knowledge of practicing primitive, both the skills and the context.   Thank you to you all!

About Christian Noble

Chris Noble is the founder of and Woodsmoke Camping Company. A Master Naturalist, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and has worked as a Registered Forester and Certified Burn Manager in several states. Chris is also a Wilderness First Responder and since the late 90’s has been “practicing primitive” skills and taking lessons from numerous Master Woodsmen throughout North America. An advocate for Conservation, teacher of Wilderness Living Skills, and happily married, he enjoys passing what he has learned thus far to others, especially his 2 children, Emerson and Duncan.

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4 Responses to Steve Watts Bow Drill (1985 video)

    Tom Ray March 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    This was so amazing to watch, because as long as I have known Steve, I have never seen it! I think it is important to respect tradition because of all the trails blazed by those that have gone before us. Steve is a trailblazer, doing this stuff when there weren’t too many out there that knew how. He is still teaching and making hard stuff look easy! We stand on the shoulders of giants. Respect tradition. Know and appreciate your teachers, and their teachers. You’ll learn more that way. The Internet is a great tool, but it will never replace one human being helping another to grow by teaching them something they didn’t know they could do.

    • Chris March 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

      Couldn’t agree more Tom!

    JC March 28, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    Have known of Steve Watts for a long time, his skills and knowledge and teachings are for most part legendary well to me and a group of others he is. To see this long before the internet flash and glamour totally sheds a refreshing light on skills and knowledge!! I truly thank you Mr. Watts for your time, talent and dedication to the skills that elude most of us, as most sit in wonder and amassment watching the internet gurus on you tube, they totally miss the entire context of the one to one teachings!! It is people like Steve and the others who have put together this web site that put the Human back in Humanity!!! My best to you all……

  3. Chris May 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Thank you JC!

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