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How to Make Plastic Cordage

To make Plastic Cordage you will need:

  • A knife or similar cutting tool. eg. A razor would be sufficient.
  • A plastic soda bottle.

Cut off the bottom end of the bottle, and then make a small cut into the plastic at a 90 degree angle. Then cut from that point onwards creating a spiral strip of plastic until most of the bottle has been used, including using the funnel section of the bottle near the bottle cap. Cut the bottle cap section off when you have successfully turned most of the bottle into cordage.

If you need the cordage to be stronger, just make it a bit thicker.

If you need the cordage to be more flexible and are not worried so much about strength, cut it to be thinner.

DIY Plastic Cordage Cutting Tool

The video below shows how to make a cutting tool for making plastic cordage faster, although you really can accomplish the same thing with just a regular knife. Having such a tool is handy and faster, but unnecessary.

Weekend Archery Lessons in Toronto

For over 8 years now I have been offering archery lessons in Toronto on weekdays and weekends, but last year following the birth of my son I decided to retire from teaching archery lessons at the end of August 2017.

Well, semi-retire.

I finished teaching any outstanding lessons in September and October on the weekends, taking care of my son on weekdays while my wife worked on finishing her degree.

Leaving teaching behind for me has been sad because it means I don't get to shoot as much as I used to. One of the things I loved about my job for 8 years was that I got to do archery 5 days a week and my skill with the bow and knowledge of archery, archery lore and history expanded from my constant interactions with other archers.

This year, as of April, will mark my 29th year of doing archery - ever since I was 10 years old.

However there is a big difference. This year I am only teaching on weekends, as I will again be spending my weekdays with my infant son.

Below: My son sleeping on the floor. I had fun taking this photo.

So to anyone in Toronto looking for archery lessons on weekends, if you want someone who is experienced at teaching for 8 years (soon to be 9 years) and has been doing archery for 29 years - and will be teaching my son how to shoot as soon as he is old enough to behave responsibly with it - then look no further.

Email cardiotrek@gmail.com to learn more.

Archery equipment is provided by the instructor.
Archery students must be at least 16 years old. (Rare exceptions.)
Weekend lessons start at $90. Lessons are 90 minutes long.

Discounts for 3 or more lessons.

Discounts for Seniors - I really enjoy teaching seniors.

Rates for couples or 3 friends at http://www.cardiotrek.ca/p/archery-lessons.html

Have a nice day!

How to Build an Earthen Oven

You will need:
  • Clay
  • Dirt
  • Straw
  • Water
  • Plastic Tarp (not a necessity, but helpful)
  • Bricks (not a necessity, but helpful)
The video below breaks down all the steps you need to do in order to make your own earthen oven for baking bread and other goodies in.

Mmm... pie... mmm... cookies... mmm... more pie...

How to Build a Primitive Shelter with Wood

Below are several videos on this subject of "How to Build a Primitive Shelter".

If possible you will want to have:

  • An axe or similar tool for cutting wood. eg. A saw or bow saw.
  • A knife or similar cutting tool.
  • Cordage, such as twine or something similar which makes a strong cord - eg. Cutting a plastic bottom into a long length of plastic cord is possible if you have a knife handy.
  • Other tools would be potentially be handy, like a hand drill.
There are literally hundreds of ways to build a primitive shelter, but today we will focus on several methods using wood. (In the future I may add other posts about making shelters using clay, sod, stones, snow/ice and other materials.)

Method #1. Branches, Bark and an Air Vent

Older Version, similar video.

Method #2. The Log Hut

Method #3. A Winter Shelter with a Heat Reflecting Wall

Method #4. A Root Cordage Primitive Shelter

Compounds Bows Vs Recurve Bows, which is Better?

And it depends.

It depends on what your goals and your criteria are for what you consider to be "better":

  • Ease of Use
  • Learning Curve
  • Short Term Accuracy for a Beginner
  • Long Term Accuracy for an Expert Archer
  • Easy to Carry / Transport
  • Faster draw and aiming cycle
  • Faster arrows / more kinetic energy
  • Durability
  • Easy to Repair
  • Hunting or Fishing

And other criteria that I didn't manage to think of just now.

So for example compound bow are technically easier to use - after you figure out how to tune the sights. So there is a learning curve there, and it is a bit of a bell curve wherein the archer starts off clueless and has to learn how to adjust the sights in order to get the arrow on target - and once they learn that skill they basically plateau for a good while unless they also learn form aspects that improve their accuracy - which means they will still require hundreds of hours of shooting to get really good with it.

Takedown recurves are definitely easier to transport than a compound bow is. Transporting a non takedown recurve or a longbow is roughly about equally hard as transporting a compound, with pros and cons for both. Yes, the longbow is longer - but it is also lightweight and easier to carry. The compound bow meanwhile comes with a bulky case and is heavy. Like I said, pros and cons.

Recurve Bows are faster to draw, aim and shoot. It can be done so fast in a speed shooting competition they are the clear winner.

Compound bows you need to pull back, adjust the peep sight, line up the sight, check the level, relax, possibly go through several other steps such as controlling your breathing, and then shoot. Hopefully in less than 10 seconds, because after 10 seconds compound archers tend to start shaking.

Meanwhile the recurve archer has already shot 3 or more times in 10 seconds.

Compound bows do have an advantage in that they transfer more kinetic energy to the arrow, more efficiently. This results in the arrows flying at a faster feet-per-second (fps) speed, which does increase accuracy (depending on the archer's skill), and is handy for hunting.

Compound bows break easily. Surprisingly so in some cases and then require repairs from someone skilled at repairing compound bows. (Cough cough. Someone like me, who does compound bow repairs.)

In contrast if a recurve bow gets damaged it is easier to repair it, or replace the broken part. As someone who buys old compound bows just for their parts, I can tell you it is really difficult to find replacement parts for broken compound bows.

People have been hunting with bows (all types) for tens of thousands of years. Probably fishing with them for the same time too. (Perhaps they were originally for fishing, for all we know.) So when it comes to hunting and fishing, I don't think there is a clear "this one is better". Yes, the compound bow provides more kinetic energy and works well in the hands of a beginner, but recurves are faster on the draw and an experienced archer doesn't need sights to be super accurate.

Note - I do not agree with everything in the video below. 'Survival Lilly' is a decent shot, but you will notice in her archery videos that she makes a number of form mistakes that hurt her accuracy.

The Toronto Tool Library

Nobody paid me to post this. I just happen to like the idea.

The Toronto Tool Library is just like what it sounds like. See https://torontotoollibrary.com/ to learn more about it.

You go to one of the locations, pick up any tools you need just like you would library books, and then return the tools after using them.

Using "tool libraries" saves people money.

An example shown on their website is as follows:

"One of our most popular tools – cordless nail gun – has been borrowed a remarkable 108 times. By sharing this single tool, which retails at $299.00, our members have saved over $32,000!"

The premise is so simple it is amazing it hasn't been done until now.

Years ago I came up with an idea for a Tool Workshop which worked like a gym membership. People pay a monthly membership fee and then can use the tools in the workshop. Instructors in the workshop are available (sort of like personal trainers) to help people to safely use the tools. There is a problem however, my idea called for people transporting whatever project they were working on to the workshop and storing it in a locker and taking it home with them eventually. Transportation could be an issue, depending on the size of the project.

The Toronto Tool Library takes it a step further, allowing people to borrow the tools and take them home for working on whatever project they need the tools for. That solves the problem of project storage, and also providing the space for people to work in.

They also have a number of other services.


The Toronto Tool Library also hosts events, listed on their website at http://torontotoollibrary.com/workshops/ which includes training programs, free community nights, and community projects.

3D Printing and 2D Laser Cutting

Youth Programs

And more...a

Now there is of course a membership fee, just like my workshop gym membership fee idea. The basic membership starts at $55.

Archery Craft Toronto Recurve Bow - How much is it worth?

"Hello sir,

My father owns this bow and would like to sell it, we would like to know its value approximately.

Its a 32/19 and 59 longer, Archery Craft Toronto.

Thank you very much
Carole L."

Hello Carole!

Okay so when trying to sell a bow you need to supply at lot of photos showing the following parts of the bow:

  • Front and back of the top tips.
  • Front and back of the bottom tips.
  • Left and right profile of the top limb.
  • Left and right profile of the bottom limb.
  • Front, back, left and right profiles of the riser.
  • 4 photos of the full bow shot from different angles.

So at least 16 photos and they should all be high resolution photographs.

Send me those and I will give you a more accurate estimate.

The reason potential buyers need that is because we need to know if the tips, limbs or riser are damaged, cracked or twisted. It is strongly recommended that collectors don't buy any bow that doesn't have all the necessary photos showing its condition - and a person looking to sell needs to please the collectors, because they are the people who are willing to bid more on them in an auction.

Also helps to know the poundage, model and year of the bow.

Judging by that photo it could be worth $50 or it could be worth $200. Or more depending on its age / model rarity. Impossible to tell without seeing all of it in more detail.

Charles Moffat

"Ok I understand, thank you very much for your response :)

Carole L."

Orienteering, the Lost Art

An Orienteering Compass
The Lost Art of Orienteering

Guest Post by R. W. - January 19th 2018.

Orienteering is not only a fun and rewarding hobby, it’s also a crucial survival skill that could one day save your life.

But orienteering is different from other ‘survival skills’ in that it is something that can be beneficial to almost all of us in practical situations. Let’s be honest, many survival skills are things that we are unlikely to ever need. A lot of survival enthusiasts operate on a ‘what if’ basis. What if I got stranded on an island? What if there was a zombie apocalypse?

But getting lost without GPS is something that still happens to most of us from time to time. And being completely helpful in these situations makes us feel just that: helpless.

So, learn orienteering and be a little less dependent on your phone. Not only could it get you out of a pickle, but it will also hone and train valuable skills.

How Orienteering Works

Orienteering is more than just navigation, it is actual practiced as a sport. It is possible to find ‘orienteering events’ which include courses for beginners and experts. To start, you will pick a special map with a course of your choice printed in red. You’ll see a start point (a triangle) and an end point (a large double circle) and you’ll be required to visit a number of specific points along the way, known as ‘control sites’. When you reach the control sites, you’ll see a stake with a triangular red and white nylon flag. There will be an electronic timing device here, which is used to record your time and to prevent cheating. You’ll also carry a small block called a ‘dibber’ which will record your time and download to a computer when you’re finished.

This sport is great for testing your skills with a compass, honing your natural sense of direction and also getting some fresh air and exercise (not to be underrated!).

Engineering Compass

Whether you’re taking part in an event or just trying to improve your navigational abilities, you’ll need to be able to use a map and a compass. Orienteering is all about reading and understanding maps drawn at large scale. These will often be 1:10,000 scale.

One tip for this is to keep the map set to match the view. This means you’ll need to constantly turn the map as you go, in order to know what sites you’re looking for. Of course you also need to know which direction you should be heading in, and this is where using a compass helps. That said, the best navigator or orienteer will be able to use the sun, stars and even vegetation to help learn the direction they need to head in.

Another skill that needs to be developed is the ability to judge distance. Interestingly, most people will walk at a rather even length pace and if you can count how many paces it takes you to cover 100m, then this can be used to ascertain how far you’ve walked in a given direction.

But to really master the art of orienteering, you need practice. Over time, you’ll find that you learn to intuitively estimate distance, direction and more much more easily. You’ll become better at looking out for useful landmarks and orienting your map.

Once you manage this, you’ll find you become inherently more aware of your surroundings in daily life. You’ll be more mindful and engaged with the world around you, with more of an idea of which way you came and where you need to go. And so if you ever do get lost, you should be able to quickly and efficiently correct your course!

See Also

The Barkley Marathon, a marathon for people who are into orienteering / survivalism.

Ship's Compass

The Best Exercises when Living Off the Grid

Happy New Year!

So you are living off the grid in the wilderness somewhere - in our case that would be northern Ontario - and you want to stay physically fit.

So how do you do it? Well, here is a list of 20 ways to exercise off the grid which won't require any electricity.

#1. Chopping firewood and stacking the wood in piles.

#2. Snowshoeing.

#3. Skiing.

#4. Shoveling snow out of the driveway.

#5. Go outside and build something.

#6. Take the dog for a walk.

#7. Cycling.

#8. Swimming (probably best to do this in the summer).

#9. Build your own exercise equipment (the building process alone is exercise).

 #10. Weightlifting.

#11. Hiking.

#12. Gardening / Landscaping.

#13. Birdwatching / Outdoor Photography - which oddly enough involves a lot of walking and hiking.

#14. Exploration.

#15. Spelunking / Cave Exploration.

#16. Rock Climbing / Tree Climbing.

#17. Build a Zip Line between two high points. (You should really research how to build Zip Lines properly before attempting and get someone with more experience with building Zip Lines to help.)

#18. Garbage cleanup - just go around your property and clean up the place. Sometimes debris builds up over time.

#19. Build a stone wall or staircase for your property.

#20. Horseback riding / Equestrian archery. My personal favourite.

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Sign up for archery lessons in Toronto by visiting CardioTrek.ca

Learn more about archery in Toronto by visiting the Toronto Public Archery Range Facebook page
or by joining the Canadian Toxophilite Society.