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Time to Cause some trouble..sheath knives

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They are not banned on our council. I get comments when I do wear one and often have to explain the actual rules. It also gives me the chance to educate as to when a fixed blade knife may be the better choice. Last time was when I carried a small sheath knife while working at day camp. ( I was building fires, opening boxes, etc so I needed a knife.) I explain that last year when I used my folding knife, the place the camp is located at is so sandy that I ended up having to disassemble it to clean it when the week was up. I have no problem cleaning the fixed blade knife.

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From what I've gathered from reading different sources is that the danger of a sheath knife is that if you fall while wearing one, there is a chance of it cutting through the sheath and causing major damage to arteries in the thighs. In one of the sources it mentioned to always wear a sheath knife either over the hip, or behind your torso, and to never wear one in front of the hip.

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sheath knives - as long as they don't have ballistic blades, then no problem.

We do require a Totin Chip and Second Class rank. The Second class imposition is to get them to finish the requirements for 2nd. Knives do remain in the pack until we actually get to camp, and the tents & flies are erected.

Old time sailors (when ships were wood, and men were iron) all carried sheath knives for personal safety. Get a hand or foot ensnarled in a line ---> knife could be drawn & used with one hand

I remember having troop safety lectures on not carrying your sheath knife in front or at the side. The knife belongs behind you & in a good sheath attached to your belt. The bottom of the sheath goes into your back pocket. I've carried mine this way for years; never a problem.

As to the dull knives in the cookbox - time for another demo on knife sharpening. A sharp knife is safer than a dull knife

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Even on a forum like this, with folks who know a great deal about Scouting, it remains hard to get an accurate statement of BSA policy on knives.


"A sharp pocketknife with a can opener on it is an invaluable backcountry tool. Keep it clean, sharp, and handy. Avoid large sheath knives. They are heavy and awkward to carry, and unnecessary for most camp chores except for cleaning fish. Since its inception, Boy Scouting has relied heavily on an outdoor program to achieve its objectives. This program meets more of the purposes of Scouting than any other single feature. 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." G2SS 2011


Note that the B.S.A. does not discourage, much less ban, the use of sheath knives or fixed-blade knives in general. It is the "large" sheath knife (whatever that means) that draws the word "avoid" -- except for cleaning fish. (Apparently a "large sheath knife" becomes better when cleaning fish.)


That BSA policy is well since the BSA continues to sell fixed-blade knives and they are used routinely in summer camp programs like wood-carving and fishing (i.e., hunting for, killing, dressing, and consuming fish.)


And how can we "instill ... the knowledge of how to use, handle, and store" sheath and other fixed-blade knives - including for cooking -- if we ban them AND IF WE OMIT ALL MENTION OF THEM FROM THE BSHB?


Neither the BSA policy nor the contrary bans of fixed-blade knives are about safety. BSA does not mention safety as a consideration. If safety were a consideration, axes and slip-joint knives (non-locking folders) would be banned long before reasonable fixed-blade knives. It is about image, political correctness, and safety theater.


This is also not about applying judgment because there is no effort by banners to distinguish between a knife optimized as a weapon (a "dagger,"or a "tanto" for examples) and the purely utility patterns.


Finally, it is not about knowledge or experience because the banners have little knowledge of knives or experience in their use OR misuse. Knowledgeable persons know that far more knives intended as weapons are locking folders rather than fixed-blade knives and that, by far, the most common woods tool accident is "closed knife on finger(s)."


It is true that most of the chores in camp can be accomplished with a frail a tool as the BSA "Scout" pattern slip-joint.


In wilderness, "backcountry" areas, however, the fixed-blade knife comes into its own, which is why the two official BSA books on Wilderness Survival both suggest the carrying of very large knives such as khukuris or bolos. (By "book" I exclude the awful Wilderness Survival Merit badge pamphlet.) The fixed-blade knife is simply more capable of processing wood than even a good folder, and in the wilderness the ability to make a fire from wood that may be wet on the outside could be, and has been, critical.


As a side-note, when I learned two years ago that a certain council camp totally banned all fixed-blade knives from the camp property, I called the authorities, explained that we were coming to camp, and asked if that ban truly extended to "kitchen" knives and my wood-carving set. That led to an amicable discussion in which the camp director confessed he had no idea what the ban meant or why it was imposed. He also volunteered that, as I expected, the camp "trading post" sold sheath knives (specifically for fishing MB candidates) and manifestly fixed-blade "kitchen" knives. In the end, he said we should bring whatever knives we wished, but asked that we not have "Scouts going around camp with big, honkin' sheath knives flopping from their belts." THAT, friends, would be someone exercising judgment.



"Trust should be the basis of all our moral training."

Baden Powell


"The entire thrust of 'Zero Tolerance' is to exercise no judgment, that is to be arbitrary."



"Say what you mean, and mean what you say."



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I dont see this post as causing trouble. I carried a fixed blade knife as a youth member until my council passed a rule against it. Why carry one, good question? The cool factor undoubtedly played into for me, mine was a Buck Pathfinder, with the black fold over sheaf. Are sheaf knives more useful, not for most tasks. Are sheaf knives less useful, this is often the case based on size, not the fixed blade. Are sheaf knives more dangerous, not by design. Sheaf knives cant fold up on you, but can come out of the sheaf and cause injury; these pretty well balance out.


The sheaf knifes bad rap is a product of all the uses a young mans imagination can come up with. Many scouts are responsible, some just cant resist taking out the horde of ninjas, orcs, and, all around bad guys they see in every tree, wall, or anything else the knife can be thrown at, or jabbed into. Yea, I took out a few phantom desperados in my day, poor trees. Has anyone ever tried throwing a scout pocket knife; it works better closed, lol


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"The problem with using a folding rigging knife is you need two hands to operate it. If one hand is holding onto the rigging to keep you from swinging circles around the mast while the vessel rocks in the swell, that could be a problem."


This really depends on the knife. I have several rigging knives that I can open with one hand quite easily. Also, I have yet to meet someone who would go up a mast without a way to tie themselves in. I'm not saying that a fixed bladed knife has no place on a boat, I just wouldn't normally take one up a mast with me.

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"The francisca (or francesca) is a throwing axe used as a weapon during the Early Middle Ages by the Franks, among whom it was a characteristic national weapon at the time of the Merovingians from about 500 to 750 AD and is known to have been used during the reign of Charlemagne (768 - 814).[1] Although generally associated with the Franks, it was also used by other Germanic peoples of the period including the Anglo-Saxons, and several examples have been found in England."

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Venturing females learning to throw axes with deadly accuracy ... it's enough to make any guy think twice. (Just sayin', dads ...)


Back to topic ...


I forgot to toss clippers or small penknife in my tackle box this week. It was a hassle trying to use the sheath knife for cutting monofilament line. The tool was too big for a small job. But, I'm glad it wasn't banned.

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"I use a 4inch sheath knife for hunting, sounds you guys are using swords."




Which guys? The authors of the Official BSA wilderness survival books? Them, heck yes. BIG blades! 12" blades and more. Can't be "sheath" anything because they come in scabbards. (No mention in G2SS about swords, spears, halberds, or maces.)


All my favorite Scouting fixed-blades have blades of 4" or less. Don't need a chopper because I have a folding saw. 4" is just . . . handy.


I think BSA issued one 5" fixed-blade by Union Cutlery (later Ka-Bar Cutlery) and several 4"+ models during the fifty years of BSA sheath knives.


In my troop as a Scout, lots had surplus MK. II's -- 7" blade. Others had different surplus issue knives, mostly Mk I's and Q225's, with 4-5" blades. Military did a study after the War ("the War" = WWII) and found the overwhelming use of the various sheath knives issued was opening cans of food. Can openers being cheaper, issue of sheath knives was sharply curtailed.


BSA sells a lock-blade with a 4" blade, which when locked works a lot like a 4" sheath knife, except more prone to failure.

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A machete is a wonderful tool, too, for certain situations.


The first scout troop I joined was in Panama (Canal Zone). Each scout had a machete, either mil issue or civilian working class model. No horseplay, no accidents. Scouts will live up to, and often exceed, the training and expectations we set. And the opposite is true too.

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So basically, a sheath knife is ( in this situation) just a very broad name for "fixed blade knives" ?


GRanted, I am a CM, but I bring not one, but two sheath knives with me when we go camping.


One is a 5 3/4 inch Rapala fillet knife. The other is a 71/2 Rapala fillet knife. Both are very sharp and even come with their own specific blade sharpening stone set to a specific angle to keep them VERY SHARP!


REmember the movie Rambo where the sheriffs deputy was testing how sharp Rambo's knife was by cutting a sheet of paper with no effort at all? My knives are twice as sharp as that!


But I only use them for when I am cooking some meals. Whch means only on the first nite of CUB PACK camping when everybody is respomcible for their own meal anyways.


Matter of fact, when I use the knives for actually filleting fish, I only use about 1" of the tip end for all my cutting anyways. When cutting up beef, pork or other meats or veggies, I might use up to 3 inches of the blade starting at the tip end.


But it's the length that allows the knife to be laid flat on it's side so I can slide along side the fish's bones athat allows the most meast and least amount of waste when cutting fillets from fish.


Anyways, anybody who is trained in how to PROPERLY HANDLE and WHEN to use any knife will not have any issues , wether it is a machete, sheath knife, or K-bar.


A knife is only dangerous when untrained hands get ahold of it.

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