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Preparedness

The quarterstaff – a multipurpose survival tool

A simple walking stick may not immediately say “survival tool” to you but the fact is it can be very beneficial to have one that is sized to fit you.

A full-length walking or hiking stick i.e. one that is about chin height on you, is sometimes referred to as a quarter-staff. It has been in use for thousands of years and has a multitude of uses beyond just that as a weapon.

Typically they area 1 1/2-2″ in diameter and about 6 feet long with a smooth surface. They may have a metal tip and with a metal ball at the other end to add to the weapon side of the things. If you are small in stature than having a stick that is about chin height and that fits comfortably in your hand is the size that you need.

Hiking: A staff or walking stick can help you maintain your balance on rough terrain. It allows you to test depths of boggy areas or to look for sound footing in those areas.

If you are hiking through snake country you can allow the stick to hit the ground with a bit of a thump that will send vibrations out to warn small creatures like snakes that you are coming and they should move out of the way.

You can also use it to keep threatening non-apex predators at bay. This would include untrained dogs and small wild animals.

First Aid: A walking staff can be used as a crutch or brace in case of a severe sprain or broken bone.

Shelter building: Your walking stick can be used as a pole to keep a portion of your tarp or other covering propped up. Some people deliberately notch their sticks to make it simple to slide a ridgeline loop over it for shelter building.

Food gathering: A staff can be used to knock down fruit that is out of reach. It can be kitted out with some fishing line and used as a fishing pole, or if you add a slingshot and do a lot of practicing you can take small game with it. Add a sharp point and it can become a spear.

Stealth weapon: A walking stick can be used most any place especially if you are old and frail or just wish to appear old and frail to unsuspecting people up to no good.

Self-defense: Fighting with the quarterstaff was once so popular that it was included in the Boy Scout Handbook, but it has since fallen out of fashion. While some consider it primarily as a defensive weapon it can be used on the offense as well.

Keeping a stick between you and your opponent is better than keeping nothing between you, especially when getting poked with that stick can crush your trachea.

Strike early, strike often. Use thrusts and other low-movement lateral strikes. Being on the offensive means you don’t have to worry about defending as much. Remember that offense is often the best defense.

What type of staff?

Staves come in all types of materials, but the most common is some form of metal or wood. Some metal staves that screw together in sections will be hollowed out and have various auxiliary pieces hidden inside those sections. These can include small saws, blades, fishing tackle and spear points. However, metal staves can not be taken into as many places as the humble wooden walking stick.

While most walking sticks are typically handcrafted, some people choose to use wooden dowels or the handles of various tools such as mops or shovels. And some folks like to take a walk in the woods, select their hardwood of choice and handcraft a stick that is balanced and sized to fit them exactly.

This Scottish gentleman has several videos on the practical uses of staves and how to make one for yourself.

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