The Official Newsletter of Way of the Raven
WHY I TEACH PRIMITIVE, SURVIVAL AND WILDERNESS LIVING SKILLS
By Benjamin ‘Raven’ Pressley
I teach primitive, survival and wilderness living skills for fun and for a living. I have been teaching these skills since 1986 and have been practicing it even longer. These skills are of interest and of use to many people for many different reasons. Some are interested in how ancient peoples lived from day to day. Outdoors enthusiasts are interested because these skills are also skills that would apply if thrust into a survival situation with the loss of modern gear. All find that learning and practicing these skills give them an appreciation and enhances their enjoyment for what nature and the outdoors has to offer.
Why practice the skills of ancient man? Each time we breathe in the smoke of a fire created by rubbing one stick against another, we breathe in the air of the dawn of all time. Each time we crack two stones together, we rejoin the brotherhood of man and a past that unites us all. Learning is ever on the increase, yet all we learn swirls together as it joins into and affects time forever. What we do with that which we have learned can bless or curse future generations. Everything our hands do imprints upon time forever. There are those in the past who knew this...perhaps, it is time we took the hand of time gone by to learn what we have forgotten.
In its most simple and most literal definition these are stone age skills. If you go back into anyone's past far enough, no matter where your ancestry lies, your ancestors practiced stone age skills. Stone age skills has nothing to do with evolution. There was a time all our ancestors used stone, bone and wood tools. So, in a sense, it is the past that unites us all. The Stone Age was an age of technology just like there was a Bronze Age and Iron age and now a Digital Age. All technology began when that first stone was thrown, that first edge was produced, that first coal was produced by friction. We do not have the claws and teeth of the forest creatures that is why we developed hunting weapons and tools. The blade by your side is your teeth. The blowgun, atlatl and the arrow are your wings to swoop down upon your prey. The sling and the throwing stick give you strength to strike down prey larger and stronger than you. Your traps and snares are your stealth and ability to strike without being seen.
This is one of the things I love the most about primitive skills and getting into the woods with this focus. When I go on a 3-4 day encampment with nothing but the clothes on my back or some minimal amount of gear like a stone knife or some handmade cordage it connects me in a way like nothing else can. As the loud noises of modern civilization fade away and I get tuned to the tiny noises of a squirrel or bird moving about senses come alive like most will never experience. A connection happens and a sensitivity is achieved in a way that no other activity can. I often remember coming out of the woods after such an encampment and it was like walking into a room with flashing lights and alarm bells ringing because my senses were so tuned to the tiny sounds of nature. Things happen to you when you apply yourself in this matter intentionally. There have even been studies that have proven that a week of camping can cure most sleeping problems because it resets those circadian rhythms, that biological clock, that is so damaged from the pressure cooker civilization has become.
I do many other outdoor activities like cycling, camping, tubing, canoeing, hiking and hunting but nothing compares to the peace I receive when applying primitive skills and stepping back into a pseudo stone age. Nothing challenges you and connects and builds new neurons like the problem solving skills you have to apply and find solutions to in an encampment like this. I have participated in such encampments with as many as nine people and sometimes just by myself. I recommend it to anyone who has the skills to do so. Please do not endanger yourself or others if you don’t have the skills to do so. I recommend that anyone who is new to this and wants to try it to go with someone experienced until you practice and hone your skills to the point you know you can survive and enjoy an encampment such as this. One way to approach this kind of activity after getting trained in the skills needed is to pitch a modern camp and then branch out a ways from it and set up a primitive camp. That way you have the modern camp to fall back on if needed. Or try taking a bow and drill fire set with you on regular camping and use it rather than matches and other devices, maybe fish with homemade cordage and a bone hook, build a debris shelter and sleep in it instead of your tent; challenge yourself a little at a time. I hate when a so-called primitive or survival skills teacher declares their students to be experts after a week long course. Never endanger yourself or others. Always have a back-up plan. Inform someone you know of your intentions and provide maps for them where your entry point and exit point are and where you will be camping that way if something goes wrong they will know where to search for you.
Read books, take classes, find good mentors to teach you. Don’t focus on only one skill learn as many different skills as you can. And practice, practice, practice! It will be worth it on so many different levels.
How your Body Loses Heat
By Benjamin ‘Raven’ Pressley
Exposure refers to problems caused by temperature. Exposure is not an injury but leads to injuries. Let’s discuss ways the body loses heat. Heat loss occurs in five ways:
RESPIRATION: This is the least preventable. Cold air inhaled into the lungs uses body heat to warm it. Heat is carried away when exhaled accounting for significant heat loss. You can reduce it to some degree by regulating physical activity that causes you to pant and inhale large quantities of cold air. I have found that something as simple as a bandanna worn over the nose and mouth helps warm the air somewhat that is going into your body and coming out of your body.
RADIATION: Blood vessels are constantly transporting heat from the central body to the skin where it radiates into the air. Heat loss through radiation is particularly rapid in the hands, feet, groin, armpits and head where blood vessels lie close to the surface. Adequate clothing and shelter preserves radiated heat.
EVAPORATION: Moisture evaporating from the skin draws heat from the body. Perspiration is the natural process for this. It is very necessary during hot weather but can be deadly during cold weather. Getting wet by other methods such as rain or falling into the water can be even more deadly, but all water has the same effect. Water draws heat away quicker than air. The only preventative is to stay dry. Moisture not only accelerates cooling through evaporation but also destroys the insulative ability of most clothing. Layer your clothing and strip off layers as you heat up or put on as you cool down. Perspiration is moisture. You don’t want to get soaked with perspiration if it can be avoided.
CONVECTION: Body heat can be lost by a breeze blowing across the body. This is a convection current. It quickly sweeps away warmth and chills the body. Windproof clothing and shelter helps prevent this heat loss method. Get out of the wind. Something as simple as digging an impression in snow, insulating the floor of the pit and, if possible, covering overhead to get you out of the wind could save your life. You’ve probably heard of the wind chill factor. For example on a 40 degree F day temperatures may seem comfortable, but couple that with a 20 mph wind and the chill factor is equal to that of a 20 degree F calm air day due to the heat loss created by the wind.
CONDUCTION: This is transfer of heat from one substance to another. Some things conduct heat more rapidly than other things. Metal, water and stone are some of these conductors. Insulation from good heat conductors prevents heat loss from conduction. Immersion in cold water is a very critical danger. 50 degree F air temperature may be comfortable to a person but if a person becomes immersed in only 50 degree F water he will die from loss of body heat in less than 3 hours. In 32 degree F water only 1-1/2 hours! It does take at least one hour, however, for a person’s core temperature to drop below 80 degrees F when a person’s heart stops, even in the coldest water. A person cannot die of hypothermia in 5-10 minutes as some believe. In cases cited where this claim has been made it has usually been from other complications: shock responses, such as hyperventilating, passing out and inhaling water and drowning or becoming stiff and unable to hold on to any life preserving object and drowning. So, at all costs, remain calm and still as possible if you fall into water. Swimming or other physical exertion increases the cooling rate by 35%. (Source: John S. Hayward Ph.D. in biology, U. of Victoria, B.C., Canada)
Warrior Scout Series
By Benjamin ‘Raven’ Pressley & Fernan David Vargas
I am really excited about this joint effort with my friend Fernan. He is a martial arts instructor that has written many books himself. He knows self defense! When he approached me about this project I immediately got excited. In a world of conflict we offer the first in this series to prepare anyone for the many scenarios of life. It is the right blend of self defense, survival skills and positive philosophy. Order your copy today!
ORDER BOOK NOW!
“Pressley and Vargas have provided an excellent tool for getting back to our basics, for re-discovering the complexity and totality of survival. In Volume One of the Warrior Scout series, they address all the basic skills that everyone should know — water, food, navigation, etc.
But they do so in the context of the awareness that civilizations rise and fall. Why did they fall, and what can we do about it today?
These authors have provided the tools for a larger understanding, that you must have a purpose, and you must have a belief in a higher power, if you are to break out of mere mundanity. In Volume 1, they provide many keys for re-embracing our tribal roots, including protecting our own tribes, as everyone automatically did at one time. Basics of fighting and defense skills are presented — such as the Lucky Seven,– and how to use your walking stick as the tool it is.
Pressley is one of the old-timers in this field, and is highly respected for his experience, and his original thinking on key elements of survival training. Volume 1 of Warrior Scout is strongly recommended for your tribe’s training.”
Survival Instructor Since 1974
School of Self Reliance