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I was also taught how to safely hand an open knife to another. However, my SPL who was teaching T'n'C (an Eagle!!!) observed that most of the time the knife could simply be laid down for the recipient to pick up, advice I never saw in official BSA literature but practical nevertheless.


Today, as the Supply Division continues to sell fixed-blade knives, there is no advice regarding them in official literature. I suppose ignoring an issue is one way to deal with it. Sorta.

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"Paul Bunyan Woodsman"

Study the Boy Scout Handbook and the Camping merit badge pamphlet, and demonstrate to your Scoutmaster or other qualified person the following:


1. Show that you have earned the Totin' Chip.

2. Help a Scout or patrol earn the Totin' Chip, and demonstrate to him (them) the value of proper woods-tools use on a troop camping trip.

3. With official approval and supervision, do one of the following:

* Clear trails or fire lanes for two hours.

* Trim a downed tree, cut into four-foot lengths, and stack; make a brush with branches.

* Build a natural retaining wall or irrigation way to aid in a planned conservation effort. "

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You know, this topic has gotten me thinking. Perhaps my ship should do some knife safety training. The other weekend I came across a couple crew members. They were sitting there dropping two knives point down to see who could get the second one to stick closer to the first. Think vertical darts, but with knives.

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Wow, I never would have thought of doing that. Of course other people wouldn't have thought of having races to see who could get to the top of their laser mast before the boat flips over. I guess it all depends on what you grow up with.

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JoeBob, it wasn't "castrated", it was simply put in line with reality. How many Troops have double-bit axes and crosscut saws in their kits? In reality, there isn't any field craft a Scout needs to do that can't be done with a bow saw or hand axe. Why not turn it into a service project?


That being said, just because a troop doesn't "need" 3/4 or full-size axes, doesn't mean they need to be banned as troops and councils have gleefully done to sheath/fixed blade knives (which I think is silly and ignorant). Skill in safe handling of an axe still needs to be taught.



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I posted this in another thread, but here seems a more appropriate place to post it.


I must admit that I have often been accused of over using logic, but here goes.


"Avoid large sheath knives. They are heavy and awkward to carry, and unnecessary for most camp chores except for cleaning fish."


It clearly indicates that there are legitimate Scouting uses for sheath knives. It says "Avoid" them not 'Don't Carry them'. The Boy Scout Motto says "Be Prepared". How else can a Scout be prepared unless he has it with him when it is needed?


"We believe we have a duty to instill in our members, youth and adult, the knowledge of how to use, handle, and store legally owned knives with the highest concern for safety and responsibility."


If we have a "duty" to teach "how to use, handle and store legally owned knives", How can we fulfill that duty if a Scout is not allowed to carry one? And just as importantly, how can a Scout ever become proficient in these things if he does not practice? How many of us have seen Scouts "pass off" a requirement for advancement and then never practice it, only to forget how to do it 6 months later. Becoming proficient is one of the most important parts of "concern for safety and responsibility".


My Troop does not have a written policy banning sheath knives, and most of our boys don't carry one. But it is frustrating when our Council (and other) camps do ban them. And quite often they don't even know why they do, (this was stated to me by more than one camp director) but the policy just keeps showing up in leaders guides event after event because someone thinks it is BSA policy. And so far we have not hit on the right way to go about getting it permanently removed from their policies.


As for my Troop, we are fulfilling our Duty.



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Hello DAD,



I'll repeat an anecdote I told earlier in this thread.


I have a KA-Bar knife stamped "USMC." I dote on it for two reasons:


1) It's a part of American history because it's a type of American Bowie Knife that was developed in the United States and fought at the Alamo and because it was the most famous combat knife of American troops (and the Marine Corp in particular) during WWII, Korea and later.


2) It's the best and safest tool to split kindling that I know of.


So I take it in to explain the history and purpose I have for the knife to Bear or Webelos Scouts. They get to hold it and I might let them try splitting kindling with it.


But my personal knife is a Swiss Army folding knife with just a few gadgets.


What knife do I want to ENCOURAGE Cub Scouts to carry once they have their whitling chip? Answer: a folding pocket knife with a 3" blade or a pocket knife which will lock the blade open.


If Scouts are permitted or encouraged to wear a sheath knife, some will, and others will want to get a bigger knife to display.


So unless there were a reason, I would discourage wearing a sheath knife. I would encourage Scouts to carry a practical pocket knife with a 3" blade.


I would have carving and chef's knives available for use while cooking, and other specialty knives as needed. I wouldn't bring my KA-BAR knife for Scouts to use to split kindling because it would be a too attractive nuisance that might be misused.


And there is one other issue. The KA-BAR knife has a 7" blade and is about an inch wide. The clipped upper part of the blade and its size makes it a deadly stabbing knife. I'd just rather not have that weapon available for someone to grab if they get angry.


By contrast, a folding pocket knife with a 3" blade has a myriad of uses but is a lousy combat weapon.


Also, if someone wants to split kindling with a knife, you can use a pocket knife like my Swiss Army knife and pound the blade through the kindling with a stick of wood. The KA-BAR is the superior knife for that task, but a regular pocket knife does OK.


To be candid, I'd simply prefer that boys not carry a knife that is an effective man-killing weapon when the 3" pocket knife is a better choice to carry.


And when Scouts look at me to see what their Cubmaster or Scoutmaster carries routinely as a knife, they see the same folding pocket knife they are encouraged to carry. (USA Infantry Motto: "Follow Me!")


So at least for me, the BSA policy of discouraging the carrying of sheath knives makes sense and conforms with my own biases.


(This message has been edited by seattlepioneer)

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I was just skimming back over this and noticed that there seems to be a common thread amongst what everyone is saying. Even the BSA literature that keeps being quoted seems to agree.


"Use the right tool for the job."


It is no different than when using all the different types of wrenches out there. Each one was created for a certain task, or type of task, and though others may work, it is best to use the right tool for the job. Just as when you need a 3/4" socket with a 6" extension, and a breaker bar, you don't grab the adjustable wrench; you don't grab a swiss army knife or a leatherman when you need to fillet a fish.



"Use the right tool for the job."

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Paul Bunyan was about wood cutting skills.

Recognize how to use use the physics of a bladed tool and it's momentum against the grain of large pieces of wood.

I admit that most places scouts go today are not swamped with sapling poplars and 4" sweetgums that need clearing. (And make for dandy pioneering bridges!)

LNT makes it anathema to break a green twig, so felling a tree is certainly grounds for excommunication.

What are you going to do when a 20" tree blows down on your road home? Use your cell phone to call a tree service with chain saws? How are you going to free your pinched bow-saw if you're not skilled with a blade?

There are still plenty of applications for woodcutting in the southeast, where we have trees. But I suspect that the lawyers have decided that axe handling was too dangerous to teach.

If you're going to turn Paul Bunyan into 'Whittlin Chip with a service project', call it that.

Admit that you no longer teach 'Woodsman' skills.


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