I have done this kind of fire a few times for practice, but never before because I was actually hurt. This last Saturday in a haste to get out the door to work with a cohort on wild foods in our area to eat, I took a tumble-down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs sits a metal Elk. Only about 12 inches tall, it is heavy steel and armed with sharp antlers.
Somehow my boot caught on the carpet of the second stair from the top and I shot forward head first. I know I saw the Elk at the bottom of the stairs and I covered my head and neck with my arms to protect it. What followed was a crash and immediate pain. My shoulder and back felt like it was being pulled off my body, my fingers burned and my ears were ringing. I fought to stay alert.
My wife and daughter quickly found that I was bleeding badly and went for pressure points to stop the blood. I had impaled my self on the metal Elk we have at the bottom of the stairs. Two powder-coated antlers gauged through my arm, barely missing the main artery and nerves. Fortunately, I brought my arm up to cover my face/neck area! Which would have had harsher implications. My shoulder felt like it was torn and I knew I was pretty banged up. In moments we were out the door and headed for the ER.
In the ER they got me on Norco right away to help manage pain…it didn’t manage me and I guess I dropped my normal quiet and shy disposition and became chatty….making friends with anyone who stopped by.
A few hours later after multiple x-rays, testing, cleaning, stitching, and an arm sling we headed out the door….but not before giving a lecture to those in the waiting room on survival psychology. Tessa Smith can attest to this…
Along with being chatty on Norco, I felt the need to be productive. So after getting home and against the wishes of wife and daughter, I proceeded to build a one arm fire.
Fire is the hallmark skill and being able to do it in any condition is essential. So why not build one when one is truly hurt.
I began by gathering tinder in the backyard. This included an abandoned finch nest, cattail collection, and dried red grass. Next, I made a small bundle of shavings by propping my MoraKniv up on a 2″ block of wood, holding it steady with my foot, and working the wood across it.
Next I split wood using hatchet and MoraKniv. This seemed to take forever. Placing the tinder on a thick chunk of Cottonwood, I used my foot and brace again to hold my Mora in place. Using my ferro rod, a Light My Fire, I was able to spark the tinder on the first try.
Within moments I had good flame and began adding wood splits to bring the flame to full life. The Light My Fire is by far the most reliable item in my combustion kit, and its exercises like this is why I use it.
So try to do a one-handed fire at some point and if you need a greater challenge, do it with your weak hand.