New Native Nation Bow Drill Firemaking

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Guest Essay

How to Start a Fire With a Bow Drill

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Imagine you're lost in the woods on a camping trip. You have no matches or lighters and it is becoming dark. Using a bow drill, a fire can be made with relatively easy to find materials.


  1. Find a bow shaped stick that is about 12-15 inches long from tip to tip.
  2. Find a string next that is slightly longer than the bow. A good string to use is your shoelace or some part of your clothing cut into a long strip.
  3. Find a piece of wood that is strong and suitable for drilling. It should be something you can hold down with your foot while kneeling. This will be what you drill into to make the ember that will start the fire. Make a small notch in the piece of wood where your drill piece can go.
  4. Use a 12-15in stick that is almost perfectly straight for the drill piece. Taking the bark off is better, but leaving it on is OK, if you lack a knife.
  5. Get something to hold down the drill while you are spinning it with the bow. This can be something from a gloved hand to a piece of wood with a notch in it.
  6. Loosely put the string on the bow. Make sure it is not tight.
  7. Put the string around the drill. This should make the string much tighter. Finally, to make the ember, vigorously spin the drill on the piece of wood by moving the bow back and forth. Use another piece of wood to hold down the drill and keep it in place.
  8. Continue doing this until you see a small glowing ember in the wood. If it starts to smoke, do not stop. It will smoke before an ember is created.


  • You will get more of a feel how to use it when you make it yourself. And remember, if you are a person who goes in the outdoors a lot, practice beforehand. The bow drill is a great primitive skill that can be made practically anywhere where there is wood.
  • For the ember to create a fire, you will need tinder. Find out how to make tinder by looking in the Related wikiHow article.


  • Make sure you are careful with the fire, always put stones around it and keep it contained.
  • Do not light thing on fire without permission
  • Fire is dangerous. dont "play" with it.

Things You'll Need

  • A bow shaped stick.
  • A wooden drill.
  • A string.
  • A piece of wood to drill into.
  • A piece of wood to hold the drill down.

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Start a Fire With a Bow Drill. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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