It may appear I am a blood thirsty “wanna be” warrior who longs for the days of castle sieges and viscous invasions. I assure you nothing could be further from the truth, as I have seen more than enough pain and suffering in my lifetime. However, I am a realist, choosing to face facts rather than ignore them and hope they go away. Seems the “Golden Opportunity” quickly slips away, but the bad luck & scams linger forever. (Maybe just my imagination.)
In any event, whether lost in the wilderness, caught up in the apocalypse, or simply trying to live off grid, you will need weapons, if nothing else in order to chase away curious critters, like a raccoon which can be highly destructive. We are going to assume we were caught off guard by whatever catastrophe we’re in, it can happen no matter how prepared you think you are, and have absolutely no weapons with you… not even a pocket knife. What are you going to do?
Rocks – Natures basic ammo
Having piles of throwing size rocks strategically placed around your campsite can afford a quick defense against an unwanted guest. A well placed, or lucky strike, in a person’s vulnerable place, face or head, will send an attacker into quick retreat or possibly even kill or maim them. Most animals will scurry if thrown at even if they’re not hit, as they are smarter than humans and want to avoid the risk of being hit by a second throw. ***Depending on the animal don’t automatically start throwing rocks at it. A predator, bear, bobcat, cougar may attack if provoked instead of moving away after checking you out. Don’t provoke a skunk. I’ll let you figure out why.
You’ll also want to remember what you throw at them, they can return throw at you.
The kid rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones….” is quite true. A proper sized stick can become a formidable weapon, either by swinging it or throwing it. If you decide to add sticks to your camp arsenal, exactly like your rocks, strategically place them for easy access, and have an adequate supply. Once you throw a stick…its gone. Again, be wary of throwing a stick at a large animal, such as a bear, wolf or cougar, as it’ll probably just piss them off and provoke an attack.
Sling – ancient killing weapon
You may have heard the story of David and Goliath. Whether you believe the biblical version or not doesn’t matter. It’s a true scenario of historical fact concerning the killing power of the sling.
A sling, in the hands of a trained person, can be a very deadly weapon. Ancient herders required a weapon cable of killing, or at least discouraging prey animals from killing their flocks of sheep and goats, their source of wealth and basic living needs. Obviously herders were poor people who could not afford to purchase modern day weapons, like a spear or sword, so they improvised. A leather strap with a pocket, a proper sized stone and the skill to hit what you throw at, and you have an incredibly deadly weapon which were inducted into military use.
Shoestrings and a piece of leather, cloth or other somewhat sturdy material, can be used to construct a primitive sling.
Primitive Weapon Modern Store Bought Weapon
Depending on your age you may have had this weapon, either homemade or store-bought when you were a kid. (I did). In the hands of a novice the sling shot offers much more accuracy with a whole lot less practice than the original sling.
The concept and construction are quite simple. A forked end of a sturdy branch, a pouch to hold the stone, leather or otherwise stout material, but …. now comes the issue. You must have two pieces of elastic material that will store energy in which to launch the stone.
Look for a thick rubber band, first aid kits may contain an elastic cord for applying a tourniquet, an old bicycle inner tube which could be cut to size. It may not be easy to locate a suitable piece of elastic material, but it will be well worth the effort if successful as it can quickly become a deadly weapon even for a beginner.
Indigenous Amazons coat their darts with poison from Frogs
Blow guns are essentially a hollow tube made of such material as, reed, bamboo, PVC pipe and comes in various lengths. The idea is to shoot a projectile (dart) through the tube by blowing a puff of air into it, sending the dart hurling through the air and striking the target. Although associated mainly with indigenous people of the jungles in Africa and South America, American Indians were known to use blowguns to hunt small prey.
Improvise when creating darts. Use a nail, toothpick, sharpened straight twig or splinter of wood. Wrap a piece of paper, aluminum foil, leaf or other material around the dart in order to create a funnel to catch your puff of breath and project it forward from the tube.
For all practical purposes, unless you have a manufactured blowgun and darts, it’s nearly fruitless to attempt to construct and use a primitive model. However, desperate conditions require desperate actions.
Since the beginning of time the spear has been used as a weapon, for offense and defense. Military use created spears with specific usages in mind making it a much more complex weapon that it may first appear to be. However, we’re stuck in the woods with no Target store around so we must make our own.
- Choose a stout stick, we don’t want it to break the first time we stab something, between 5 to 7 feet long, any more than that it becomes more difficult to maneuver, but if you’re strong … the longer the better. You must be able to wrap your hands entirely around the girth of the stick for control.
- Find a rock, sandstone or other material which can be easily chipped into the basic shape of an arrow or spear head. Fine tune this head to as sharp as you can possibly make. Jagged doesn’t matter, it may even be beneficial, but sharpness is a must.
- You must now split the stick end to allow the spear head to nest inside. Find rocks that are as sharp as possible, you may have to make some by chipping, then use a stick to pound the sharpened rock into the end of the stick, splitting it apart.
- Insert the spear head into the split end, then tie it securely with shoelaces, string, vines anything you can tie taunt.
Spear Head Gig/spear
Let’s assume there are no rocks available that are suitable for shaping into a spear head. We then revert to plan B, which is construct a spear/gig combination weapon. With the same basic tools, a stick, jagged rock or other sharp material and something to tie around the spear head, we will split the end of the stick, just like we did for the spear head to insert into, but instead of one split .. we will make several, at least two splits which will create four prongs. Sharpen each prong as much as possible. Securely tie shoelace, or whatever, around the stick at the ends of the split. That will keep the spear from splitting further down the handle which you don’t want to happen.
Stuck in the Sahara desert where rocks are few and far between. Use whatever you have to sharpen the end of the stick. For example, a file can be adapted into a spear making machine. Bottom line: use your imagination.
“What is a bola?” you may ask. That’s not an unusual question because bolas are traditionally used in South America by gauchos. South American cowboys, in place of the lasso used by Western cowboys.
The bola is a combination of weapons, a sling, thrown rocks, a spear, but with a totally different intent. Instead of being thrown at the target’s head or upper torso, the bola is designed for throwing at the target’s legs, knees and below, in order to tangle the legs and causing the prey to fall.
Construction is relatively easy, the better available material the better quality bola of course, but primitive will suffice. Gather three lengths of material, shoe strings, leather string, para-cord, anything you can tie a knot in. Tie all three cords together at one end. Tie each end of the individual cord around a rock, pouch of pebbles, whatever you can devise.
Rotating Overhead For Speed
In order to throw the bola, begin by rotating it over your head, picking up speed in order to maximize distance it will travel, impact on the prey and the speed it will wrap around the prey’s legs. Your intent is to quickly and securely tangle the fleeing target’s legs causing it to fall and not be able to escape.
Tomahawk / Club
Repeating the construction process on each weapon is becoming a bit monotonous as it is essentially the same for every weapon. The differences which need to be incorporated are based on personal needs, strengths and abilities. For instance the ax/club pictured above would most likely be easily wielded by a man or a strong woman, due to its size and weight. Yet would be cumbersome and awkward for a woman or small framed man to wield in a “fight” scenario.
Tomahawk / knife combo
Let’s change gears. We’ve explored the making of primitive weapons should we be caught in a survival situation unprepared or unable to reach your bug-out equipment… don’t scoff. How many people take their survival equipment with them to the office everyday? Its more likely to happen than not.
A massive weapon that we do carry with us is our Brain. Blogs like this, books, videos etc are great for teaching the basics for surviving in the wilderness, but to know everything would require a book 3 feet thick with small print and no pictures.
In my opinion the key is to be creative, improvise, use logic and never pass up an opportunity to acquire something that will help insure your survival. For instance, as you are stealthily skirting the edge of the woods along the perimeter of a field, you spot an old dilapidated shed, might even be an outhouse, in the distance. Your first instinct may be to get far away because it’s a sign of people and encounters with people are not always good.
Cache of possible weapons
The possibility of finding a treasure trove of old farm implements which could be transformed into weapons should never be underestimated. It’s the typical risk vs reward equation … does the risk of possibly encountering people outweigh the risk of discovering essential material for weapon making. It’s an individual case by case determination. Again…use your brain.