Tip of the Week: Field-Improvised Tools:

Discussion in 'Vintage Topic Archive (Sept - 2009)' started by Jag, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. Jag

    Jag Member

    Hey, guys! Sorry about not posting anything here on the survival board in a bit. I’ve been plenty busy with college courses and job-searching (trying to find something decent, not your run-of-the-mill, work-your-butt-off-for-pennies, time-intensive, thankless minimum wage position—which, if you have any suggestions about where one might find such work [like where to look for the good jobs aside from your average advertising sources, like the newspaper classifieds or the local state/county/municipal job center], feel free to PM me with some thoughts, if you have the time). Anyway, here’s an entry for the Tip-of-the-Week on the Survival board.

    For this post, I thought I’d touch on a subject that rarely gets discussed to any length in any of the sources of survival info out there on the web and in print: improvised, hand-fashioned tools/weapons, specifically those that can be made out of natural materials in a wilderness area coupled with whatever you might have on your person to facilitate the construction of said tools. To keep this post reasonably short (compared to my other posts…), I will narrow the topic down to a single thought: improvised weapons. Here’s the scenario:

    You have at your disposal a good knife, a good multi-tool, a fire, the natural materials that you’d be able to acquire in the wilderness (wood, stone, vegetation, animal parts, etc.), basic knowledge of mechanics/natural materials/construction techniques, and a small survival kit in a daypack. There are a few needs that compel you to spend your valuable time constructing such weapons (a hungry predator in the area, food-gathering, etc.). Here’s the challenge: you have a limited amount of time to construct these devices, so they must be as simple in design as possible, quick to make, effective enough for their required function, and durable enough so that they do not break on their first couple of uses (so you don’t end up wasting your effort). What kind of weapons (simple things like spears, bow, clubs, etc.) would you construct, and how would you do it?

    Here’s my analysis on this idea. Many survival books will cover building a bow and arrow or other “simple†ranged projectile weapon from scratch as an improvised field weapon. Here’s the truth on such a matter: if you have no experience in constructing a bow beforehand, DON’T TRY TO BUILD ONE IN A REAL SURVIVAL SITUATION WHERE TIME AND ENERGY ARE LIMITED! To properly construct a reasonably powerful bow, it takes a lot of testing, time, and materials to get it right from scratch. However, there are three alternatives to the bow that make for good weapons for such a situation: the spear, the Apache throwing star, and the throwing stick. Each of these devices can be constructed with nothing more than a knife, a well-selected piece(s) of wood (gauged for straightness, thickness, strength, and age), a fire, some cord, and a little TLC. By doing nothing more than sharpening the point of your piece of wood (thick stick) and carbon-hardening the point in a campfire, you can create a reliable thrusting spear that you could use to fend off close-range attacks from predators (etc.). For a ranged weapon that gives you more distance without putting yourself at risk from a point-blank attack, the Apache throwing star can be made with two short, stout lengths of wood. By sharpening the ends of this sticks/small logs, fire-hardening the tips, and lashing them together in a perpendicular crosshair-like structure, one can create a “throwing star†that can be hurled at distances up to thirty-forty yards with lethal force. For small game/threats, a throwing stick can be readily constructed. By choosing the proper length, weight, and dimensions of a suitable stick, carving off any wood that affects the flight of the stick, trimming it to the right length/thickness, and practicing a little with it, a throwing stick can be chucked at twenty-thirty yards with accuracy and force (although it is more suited for small-game hunting than large threat defense).

    All of the aforementioned weapons can be readily made with a minimum of time and effort, which could be life-saving should you need to construct such tools in a real situation. While a bow or other more-complicated weapon might be a viable choice if you have more time/energy available, bear in mind that these types of projectile weapons are harder to construct successfully. And this whole discussion may be a mute point if you already have a modern firearm/bow/other weapon with you.

    Well, weigh in with your own thoughts on this topic. I hope I have been able to give you guys something of value in the information here that you can put to use in practice or, heaven forbid, in a real situation. I look forward to your replies!


    Jag 8)
  2. Kyu

    Kyu Senior Member Member

    A spear with an atlatl is by far the best weapons to build with limited time.