Fire Rubbing Stick Contest




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bulletSpectacular for shows and exhibitions Individual contest
bulletRequires much patient practice
bulletGood fire-making equipment essential

The day a Scout produces a flame by rubbing two sticks is a big "Red Letter Day" in his life. And so, Mr. Scoutmaster, here's where we roll up our sleeves and help him to have that day to treasure.

The Contest

In this novel contest a rope and two Scouts replace the usual bow. One member of the Patrol holds down the fire-board with his feet and the drill socket (thunder bird) with both hands, while two others pull the rope. Otherwise, the flame is produced as described in the Handbook for Boys, under the heading "Fire by Friction."

All the apparatus is laid out neatly in Patrol piles at one end of the room or field, and the contestants run and get it in relay fashion, as follows:

bulletNo. 1 gets the drill.
bulletNo. 2 gets the rope, and upon his return, wraps it around the drill.
bulletNo. 3 gets the fire-board in which the hole has been drilled out in advance.
bulletNo. 4 gets the tinder, which was prepared in advance, and placed in a waxed envelope or paper to keep it dry. Returning with it, he takes out the tinder and places the wad under the hole in the fire-board.
bulletNo. 5 (the most important member of the team) gets the thunder bird and takes his position.
bulletNos. 6 and 7 pull the end of the rope back and forth, starting slowly and increasing speed as directed by No. 5. When No. 5 thinks he has a live ember, he instructs them to stop. He then picks up the tinder with the board and blows the red ember into a blaze.
bulletNo. 8, the Patrol Leader, organizes and coaches his men in advance, directing them during the contest.


Scouts fail to produce a blaze because they do not take time to prepare the tinder properly. It takes an hour or more to prepare a sufficient wad of tinder. To ignite easily the tinder must be very fine. Dry it in a hot iron frying pan, and then keep it in waxed paper in a dry place until ready to use.

Ream a hole in the middle of the fire-board about 3/4" from the edge for the fire-hole.

It is not generally known that a spark can be produced more easily by putting a little very fine sand (a dozen grains are sufficient) in the fire-hole. Also, the flames will come quicker if dried milkweed silk is placed in the center of the tinder ball.

Of all tinders native to the United States red cedar is the best.

If you are interested in making your own fire-boards and drills, try yucca. Other good woods include American elm, red elm, balsam fir, dried willow root, cypress, basswood and cottonwood.

Fire by Flint and Steel Contest

You will find it easier to start a fire with flint and steel than with rubbing sticks if you follow directions in Handbook for Boys.

A contest similar to the Rubbing Stick Contest involving team work and running will prove equally interesting.

Boy Scout Games






Additional Information:

Peer- Level Topic Links:
Fuzz-Stick Whittling Contest ] Contact Wood-Splitting Contest ] String Burning Contest ] Water Boiling Contest ] [ Fire Rubbing Stick Contest ]

Parent- Level Topic Links:
How to Use This Book ] Scout Ways ] Tenderfoot Requirements ] Scout Knots ] 2nd Class Knife Axe Fire ] 2nd Class Wildlife ] Compass Treasure Hunts ] First Class Wood Love ] First Aid Games ] Signaling Games ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.