This Steve Watts demonstration of how to make a bow drill fire showcases the expertise he held in his field.

Those of us interested in primitive skills live in a pretty cool time. I remember being a kid and being interested in things like friction fire and bows and arrows, but there  didn’t seem to be anywhere to go with that interest. Nobody in the community knew much about primitive skills. I never saw any books on the subject. It was just something that seemed an interesting aspect of the past.

Fast forward 20 years. We all realize how much social media and the Internet changed all of that. Now Youtube has become flooded with people showing off their skills and trying to help others. I, for one, think it’s awesome that people are keeping ancient skills alive. Even if their skills aren’t expert level, their enthusiasm for primitive living is encouraging others to learn more about history and the world.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that in the days of my youth there actually were people carrying on ancient traditions. They weren’t as well known, and their videos weren’t as widely viewed. However, they were still there keeping the flames of the past alive. One such torch bearer was Steve Watts.

Steve Watts was bushcraft before it was cool and he mastered the subject. He not only had an academic background in prehistory, but tremendous skills as well. In a time before Youtube, Watts was still trying to show people the romance of the woods. Fortunately, at least one demonstration video he made has found its way to Youtube. If you haven’t already seen it, you may enjoy watching Watts demonstrate how to make a Stone Age bow drill set from scratch.

What an excellent video. It reminds me of the Primitive Technology channel on Youtube that is so popular today. No words. No fluff. Just the simplicity and beauty of the skill in total focus.

This video sort of drives home to me the importance of practicing these skills. They are the skills we all hold in common. They bind all groups across the world together and show us the common history we all share. Steve put it like this:

“The learning and practice of aboriginal skills can help us all get in touch with our own roots, no matter what our particular heritage may be. If we go back far enough into our own pasts, we discover that we are all aboriginal peoples at some time in some place. The Stone Age is the great common denominator of humanness. ‘Primitive’ (‘first’) skills are our shared heritage”

If people don’t actually keep practicing these ancient skills they will surely drop away into the past. If you are part of that unbroken chain you can feel good about your efforts. Your efforts contribute to the preservation of knowledge. Whether you make a video, dedicate your life to the study like Watts did, or just do your own backyard projects, you help to breath the past into life. Who knows, you may also reach a kid who is having trouble channeling their interest in primitive skills.


Thanks for taking the time to read this article, and watch this video showcasing Steve Watts skills. If you like the content, I’d encourage you to follow the blog by clicking the Follow button near the bottom of this page. You may also enjoy this article I wrote about Why To Start a Bow Drill Fire.

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Watch Legendary Steve Watts Make a Bow Drill From Scratch in this Classic Video

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