Fire by friction history was made by ‘World Champion Fire Starter’ Eagle Scout Dudley Winn Smith from Independence, Missouri who held the record for starting a fire using a bow and drill. The 1937 book Games and Recreational Methods for Clubs, Camps and Scouts, C.F. Smith, records his winning method. I have tried this out and it works!
“When the starter said ‘Go’ I drew my bow back and forth with long complete strokes. In about three seconds a little pile of smoking black charcoal issued from the pit. Then I stopped rubbing, picked up both the board and the tinder and blew directly onto the smoking pile, which immediately turned into a red ember. In 7 1/5 seconds after I drew the first stroke the tinder burst into flame. Luckily for me the three timers all agreed. The suggestions below are given in hopes that they will help you make fire rapidly. I worked a long time before I was able to produce a blaze in less than a minute. Do not get discouraged if you fail at first; keep trying and you are sure to succeed. “
The full instructions and illustrations are in this PDF.
Building a fire by friction takes some practice but it can be done. The right materials are all -important to success. I use eastern red cedar for the drill and hearth, cedar bark for the tinder. It’s great fun for both adults and Scouts.
Games and Recreational Methods for Clubs, Camps and Scouts is a interesting, encyclopedic, collection of program ideas and games. Naturally some of the material is dated, but there’s plenty there to be adapted for today’s Scouts. The book is long our of print but copies are regularly available on Amazon and eBay.