Bow Drill Method: Fire Building Skills

Aside from water, fire is also one of the elements that is essential to our lives. It may sound so primitive but trying to learn a basic fire building technique by the use of a friction can be a great help for your own survival. It is an excellent emergency practice whenever you are in an outdoor activity.

On this blog I will show you a method on how to build fire using the bow drill method. Of all the friction fire building techniques, this method is most efficient at maintaining the speed and pressure needed to produce a coal, and also the easiest to master.


  • The hearth board is pinned to the ground by your foot to stop it moving. The bearing block is held against your shin to keep the drill from wobbling.
  • The drill is twisted into the string. Ideally with the loop on the outside of the bow.
  • Before you start drilling, you need to make a slight depression in the hearth board where the base of your drill will initially sit. Make the depression with the tip of your knife.
  • Now take up position and begin to bow until you have burnt a nice circle the width of the drill.
  • Now before you proceed you will need to cut out a notch into the center of this circle. The notch should be 1/8th of the circle.
  • Place the ember pan under the notch. Now you can start bow drilling again, but this time for longer.
  • Apply pressure from the top with the bearing block and bow smoothly and quickly. Once you get a good rhythm going try to maintain it.
  • If your technique is good, and all the conditions were right, then you’ll most likely get an ember.
  • If there is an ember, the pile of black dust on your ember pan will continue to produce smoke by itself.
  • Peel back the hearth board away from the ember. Now you’re ready to transfer it to the finest part of your prepared tinder.
  • Once you have the ember on your tinder, fold the tinder around it gently.
  • Now hold the bundle and begin to blow. With more and more air the ember will grow stronger and the tinder will begin to burn, then eventually burst into flames!

Always remember building fire by yourself using the primitive method needs a lot of practice because it’s not easy as it sounds. But once you’ve mastered it, there’s nothing to worry about if you’re trapped in an island without any fire producing tool.

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