Fire Starting Method Using a Bow and Drill

This post was last updated on July 1st, 2021 at 08:35 am

When you are freezing cold and need a fire, there a few ways to make one. This is just another example of a relatively easy way to make a fire. A bow and drill can be made in just about any type of forest habitat. During survival, the ability to use this method could mean life or death!

The first thing you will need to find is a softwood log. This one was quite dead, and standing right on the side of the trail. It had been picked at by woodpeckers for quite some time it looked like.  As you can see I split the log in half and made a couple of holes in it for the drill to set into. This should be pretty easy to do with just a couple minutes and any knife. The core of this log was still quite hard, which is what you want.

making a fire with bow and drill 1
Note how the top piece has a flat edge. This is to hold it down easily with your foot. I have also dug out a little channel to the left side of the drill hole. This is for your tinder to sit, and is where your fire will begin. You want this channel to allow air to reach your tinder. So all the way through your piece of wood is ideal.

Here you can see the bow I have made out of tag alder. Any type of flexible wood will work for this.

The bow string is not very tight. If you have the string too tight it will be too much pressure and your drill won’t turn. The stick on the bottom of this picture is the drill. This has to be a harder wood than your base wood. Mine is oak, so we should have no problems there. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a very straight drill stick. Even the slightest curve will make this process very difficult. You will need to make the ends of your drill stick somewhat rounded, this way it will spin easily in its designated spot.making a fire with bow and drill 2

Foot rested on my base I begin to do some drilling

You should have some tinder placed into your base piece. Here I have used the chips and dust from the holes I carved into my parts. I also added some shredded birch bark. You don’t have to push downward hard. Its all about consistent pressure and speed. Make sure you use good cordage for this project. I used fairly cheap string and the outer layer frayed badly. Fortunately the inner core was much stronger.making a fire with bow and drill 3

making a fire with bow and drill 4
Bingo! Be sure to have your fire building materials ready for when the embers start to burn. You wont have long to get your fire lit!

Practice makes perfect when you are learning to make a fire with the bow and drill. One of the most delicate parts of this process is transferring the hot coal into your birds nest or bundle of dried grass etc. I can’t express enough how important it is to make sure you have dry easily lit material ready before starting to drill. Once the hot ember is in contact with your dry material you will have to blow very carefully to expand the fire. You will have trouble with this at first, but keep at it. Learning how to make a bow and drill is a great way to keep you alive if you ever get into trouble.