Cheating at firemaking, Rattlesnakes, & a Dry Fire Drill

Today, I’ve got 3 quickies for you…The first is how to cheat at primitive firemaking with a tool that you’ve had on you 24/7 since the day you were born.

If you saw the Mythbusters episode where they collected a pile of earwax and tried to burn it, you might have the mistaken belief that earwax won’t help you make fire in a survival situation.  That, my friends, is poppycock, and I’ll tell you the proper way to use earwax to make a fire.

Bow Drill From FM 21-76

While it’s true that earwax is not flammable, it IS very useful for making fire.

In short, when you make fire with a bow drill, you want as little friction as possible at the top of your drill, where it touches the socket, and as much heat from friction as possible where the drill hits the fire board.  Two easy things to put in the cup of your socket to reduce friction are oil from the side of your nose and behind your hear and ear wax.

If you don’t know, I love primitive fire making in general and the bow drill in particular.  I spend a lot of time in isolated areas and carry a lighter and/or a sparking device with me year round, but it’s comforting to know that I can always fall back on my primitive fire making skills if all else fails.

Second, today is a dry fire drill to help you with cornering and switching hands.

This drill combines strength, stretching, and firearms fundamentals–not everyone will be able to do the advanced version of the drill, but almost everyone will be able to do some version of it.

What you want to do is find a chair or piece of furniture that you can pretend is cover…that it will stop incoming bullets…that is as wide or half again as wide as your shoulders.

For optimal safety, use an inert training platform like the SIRT or a blue gun and make sure that you remove all “real” firearms and ammo from your training area.

Let’s assume that you have a desk, kitchen cabinet, or couch-like chair that has the right dimensions for you.

Start by standing an arm’s length away from the cover with your feet spread out ALMOST as wide as the cover is.  So, if the item that you’re using as cover is 30″ wide, stand so that the outside of your feet are 26″-28″ apart.  You don’t need to measure this.  What you want is to have your feet as wide as possible for the exercise and stretching component of the drill and you want your feet as far inside of the cover as possible for the tactical component of the drill.  These are competing goals and you’ll have to decide what your priorities are.

Next, hold your inert weapon in a right handed grip, lean so that roughly 80% of your weight is over your right foot, and engage an imaginary target around the cover while exposing as little of your body as possible.

Pull your weapon in and transfer your weapon from a right handed grip to a left handed grip as you transfer your weight from your right foot to your left foot.  Now, engage an imaginary target around the left side of the cover while exposing as little of your body as possible.

What I do to make this drill harder is to transfer my weight back and forth while squatting and keeping my butt as close to the ground as possible instead of standing up.  Only widen your stance as far as you comfortably can and only drop your weight as far as you comfortably and safely can, but once you know how far you can go, you can start moving in “box” and “x” patterns.

To make this drill even harder, add in a flashlight or a tactical reload as you’re switching from one side to the other.

For more high-speed dry fire drills that will transform “spray and pray” shooters into precision speed-shooters, go to by clicking >HERE<

And the third is a quick note on rattlesnakes and terrorists that my mom sent me.  I liked it so much that I decided to share it with you today.

After the Boston bombing the news media has spent days and weeks
trying to determine why these men did what they did. They want to know what
America did to make these brothers so angry with us. They want to know why
these men were not arrested before they did something so terrible. The media
is in a tizzy about this new era of home grown radicals, and about why they
could live among us and still hate us.

A friend of mine from Texas explained it all to me:

“Here in west Texas I have rattlesnakes on my place, living among us.
I have killed a rattlesnake on the front porch. I have killed a
rattlesnake on the back porch. I have killed rattlesnakes in the barn, in
the shop and on the driveway. In fact, I kill every rattlesnake I encounter

I kill rattlesnakes because I know a rattlesnake will bite me and
inject me with poison. I don’t stop to wonder why a rattlesnake will bite me;
I know: It will bite me because it’s a rattlesnake and that’s what rattle-
snakes do. I don’t try to reason with a rattlesnake…I just kill it.
I don’t try to get to know the rattlesnake better so I can find a way to
live with the rattlesnakes and convince them not to bite me…I just kill
them. I don’t quiz a rattlesnake to see if I can find out where the other
snakes are, because (a) it won’t tell me, and (b) I already know they live
on my place. So, I just kill the rattlesnake and move on to the next one.

I don’t look for ways I might be able to change the rattlesnake to a
non-poisonous rat snake…I just kill it. Oh, and on occasion, I
accidentally kill a rat snake because I thought it was a rattlesnake at the
time. Also, I know, for every rattlesnake I kill, two more are lurking out
there in the brush. In my lifetime I will never be able to rid my place of
rattlesnakes. Do I fear them? No! Do I respect what they can do to me?
Yes! And because of that respect I give them the fair justice they deserve
…I kill them…”

(Now this certainly isn’t a 100% correlation, simply because America wasn’t built on charging, convicting, and sentencing people for thought-crimes or pre-crimes.  That being said, it is a good illustration that venomous pit vipers will be venomous pit vipers regardless of how much we understand them, “send good thoughts” their way, or go out of our way to appease them.

Co-existing in close proximity with an un-caged venomous pit viper that is willing to strike and kill you if you annoy it is simply not an option.  You’ve got to either cage it, relocate it, decide that it’s life is worth more than yours and leave, or decide that your life is worth defending and act accordingly.)

Thoughts?  Questions?  Let us know by commenting below:

David Morris


About David Morris

David Morris is the creator of the Survive In Place Urban Survival Course, the Fastest Way To Prepare Course, Urban Survival Playing Cards, Tactical Firearms Training Secrets, and other books, courses, and articles on preparedness, survival, firearms, and other tactical topics. He lives with his wife, 2 boys, and 2 dogs.


  1. thomas conger says:

    thoroughly enjoyed this article

  2. Now, on this other topic of terrorists. i hope to never be in a situation of having to defend myself, but i am preparing, just in case. ‘Nuff said.

  3. I really enjoy reading all your topics and the comments are informative, as well as, thought provoking! Thank you, David, for what you do and who you are in caring. In this particular topic, I do have a story concerning rattlers. I lived with them in the woods, but they were the small Pacifica Rattlers and still spooked me. I have had some coil up on me, but always had an “out” either by stepping behind something or over something. I never was really in danger, or so I felt. Anyway, sidewinders would be another story!

  4. We need to do to Muslims what you do to snakes Kill them

    • davidmobile says:

      On terrorists and others who engage in war with us, I agree with you.

      But on Muslims, I tend to pray for God to strengthen the resolve and influence of peaceful Muslims to turn the hearts of those Muslims who believe in Sharia and outward jihad against others (us).

      Not all (many would say most) Muslims don’t agree with the later, more violent teachings of Mohammad. In particular, most don’t agree that the only 3 options for dealing with non-believers are to convert, tax, or kill. They believe in a 4th option of peaceful co-existence and I believe we should encourage the practice and spread of this 4th option where possible.

      To further complicate matters this 4th option is not what the modern Muslim Brotherhood or the Muslim Student’s association believe in…they only believe in using it as a tool to get the political clout necessary to do the first 3 without retribution.

      But, in short, to categorically throw ALL Muslims under the bus–regardless of whether they are cultural Muslims, devout peaceful Muslims who want to live at peace with their neighbors without ulterior motives, or bat poop crazy jihadists bent on killing Christians and Jews and who think they’ll go to heaven if they can convince their children to be martyrs–is the very definition of bigotry.

      • I think there are 3 kinds of Muslims:

        • That kind of broad generalization doesn’t help anyone. There are more than 2 BILLION Muslims in the world and it’s not only impossible, but DEconstructive to make a statement like that.

          There are MILLIONS, if not more than a billion, Muslims who just want to practice the peaceful parts of the Koran and be left alone. The extremists of their religion want to persecute them for not being “true” Muslims and many non-Muslims want to take the easy route and bunch them in with the nut jobs.

          It IS easy to make those generalizations when the majority of the slave trade, genocide, and wars in the world are being instigated by Muslims, but MOST Muslims don’t support slave trade, genocide, and war any more than you or I do.

    • I agree. We ALL need to take the Japanese approach and not let them by property or live in the US.

      Incidentally, why are we not planning to counter the “Million Muslim March” scheduled to take place on Sept 11thg in DC????

      This is the biggest insult !!!!

      Muslims destroyed NYC on this date in 2001, remember?

      Are we going to tolerate this crap? I pray NOT. It will certainly send the message that we approve it if we do nothing.

  5. AmericanJoe says:

    Thanks, Ronnie.. you’re about the only one who “gets it”.. While all the stories about Rattlesnakes are fun to read.. It was not the point being made.. The parallel between “Dealing with Terrorists and Dealing with Rattlesnakes” was the intended topic.. But at the end of the day it was fun reading..

    • Yup…it’s hard for me to understand why we treat people who are at war with us like criminals. The Boston bombers weren’t committing a crime, they were engaging in warfare. Same with the Benghazi embassy attack–that was an act of war, not a crime. So what do we do? We use a bunch of legal BS to “go after” the Benghazi attackers and send drones into Yemen for attacks that didn’t happen. Ugh.

  6. I was trying to free a baby duck who had run into a roll of old fence wire. I messed with it for 15 minutes or so, and then notice my hand was within INCHES of a big fat rattler. He had eaten so many baby ducks, he just looked at me like “Lady, I’m trying to sleep.”

    I have a Great Pyrenees that somehow digs rattlesnakes out of their holes, throws them in the air repeatedly (snapping their necks???) and then munches them dead. I also had an amazing pig that dug them up, and ate them. Snakes skins all over his pen. Also had a small kitty who would drag long rattlesnakes around the yard for hours.
    Had, twice, baby rattlesnakes in the house. Matched my carpet. And a big fat one that lived in the under parts of the washing machine.
    The baby one was aggressive. There was a mouse (that he could never have eaten) in the bath tub. I was cheating him of his prey, I think. I put a bowl and a strainer over him, he got his head under the outer one, and I had my secretary cut him in half with scissors. (She was terrified of snakes. I asked her which was scarier, cutting him in two or wondering where he was on the carpet.
    I also encountered a rare summer sight: A hoard of rattlers in a mating orgy, jumping into the air and wrapping around one another. I walked by them in shorts and sandles. (They were not there when I returned.)
    I am told I played with a rattler when I was a toddler in my crib outdoors in the south Florida summer, picking it up and dropping it, laughing. No harm done. Maybe it was attracted to the milk in my bottle?
    The Western rattler is far less aggressive than elsewhere.
    Yes, rattlers are more numerous the year after mice are numerous. I also notice you seldom see a snake where the geese live.

    • Hipockets says:

      God’ I hate to even look at a snake’ Makes me sick to my stomach’ Not afraid of them,but mean little boys when I was 6 threw one at me and it wrapped around my neck. I’ve heard horrror stories about snakes. If I even see a picture of one,I start to vomit’ Thank God I live in Montana where I don’t have any kind of snake in my area’Bless you for putting up with them’ You are a trooper’

  7. There is a spray that you can put on a field that will (slowly) rid it of snakes. (It makes rattlesnakes skinny and crazy aggressive – and I mean crazy!) A nearby wealthy ranch does this and the snakes come to my ranch. (It is a thousand acres, I am half that size.) I don’t know what they use.
    However, there is something out of Australia that I used to kill mites on my peafowl. It warned on the bottle not to spray it on snakes or reptiles, that it would kill them. It is called Avian Liquidator. The price kept going up, and years ago I spent $50 a can for less than a quart of it. (You dilute it 1 ounce to 20 ounces of water.) I never sprayed it on snakes, but I suspect what the ranch across the street uses may be similar. I also suspect the way it works is, somehow it keeps them from eating – because the snakes are deflated, skinny when they are crazy aggressive.

  8. Watched a news story about a man in South Georgia quail hunting by himself about a year ago that was struck by a large rattler. Snake didn’t give the warning rattle – just struck high on the side of the man’s leg. Fella said it was as if someone swung a sledge hammer full force against his leg! He had a kit (maybe Sawyer? not sure) and was able to use it before he could walk back to his truck. The emergency Dr. basically said the kit saved his life. Based on his situation, the size of the snake and venom injected he would not have made it back to his truck much less anywhere to get help. Something to consider when planning outdoor adventures with similar potential snake encounters.

  9. Your “exercise” about fire-drilling is perfectly mud. what the hell are you talking about? Why not just post a video! It would do all us imaginitively hobbled readers so much good.

    • davidmobile says:

      The tip was for the benefit of people who know how to use a bow drill.

      It would take a LONG video and a hungry student to effectively teach the successful use of the bow drill.

      Besides that, I’ve got readers from ALL ends of several spectrums who subscribe to my stuff…When I write, I know that I’m writing to newbie preppers, people who have been homesteading for decades, people on ss disability, 2 billionaires that I know of, current Tier I operators and people who have never fired a weapon. You may have thought it was as clear as mud, but others would have skipped over it and missed it if I would have been too basic.

  10. For all the folks who have this irrational fear of rattlesnakes, here’s something to think about — Hanta Virus. It’s a lot more dangerous than any rattlesnake you’ll meet. And it happens when the snake population is overly reduced (usually through human depredation), allowing deer mice to overpopulate.

    Rattlesnakes rarely bite humans unless roughly handled, and when they do, they only inject venom about 50% of the time — and it’s venom, not poison. There’s a difference, which anyone interested in survival would be well advised to learn about. In cases where envenomation does occur, about 1/3 of the time, there’s insufficient venom delivered to require medical treatment. Fatalities from rattlesnake venom are almost unheard of, but can happen in an elderly or otherwise compromised individual. With the exception of the Mojave, and some Southern Pacifics, the venom does not contain a neurotoxin. It can do severe tissue damage, so it’s not to be taken lightly, but it’s not likely to kill you.

    As far as rattlesnakes biting just because you get close to them , it’s just not true. I’m on rattlesnake dens all the time, and I’ve never had a rattlesnake so much as threaten to bite me. One of my mentors, a herpetologist, has been studying them in the wild for 30 years, and also has never been threatened or bitten. Can you be bitten under the wrong circumstances? Sure. Just like you can turn an ankle on a set of stairs under the right circumstances. But this fear-mongering about rattlesnakes really does no one any good, and while a lot of guys think “Kill ’em all, by God!” is the big he-man approach, but it’s really just irrational fear because rattlesnakes are scary on TV.

    Yes, respect their space and be aware that if you step on them, or handle them roughly they can hurt you. So can any other animal in the woods, including a deer. But if you want to be afraid — be afraid of Hanta Virus. You won’t see that one coming.

    • Excuse me i believe you people miss the parable , the point of this comparison is these people come for reason to do one thing , There believe is we are infidels and they have distorted interpretation of the cor ran and will go to any length to kill any , especially American whom don’t agree with what they believe ! Bottom line is this people want to come here and live fine , but once they commit a terrorist act , which they already proven they will do !Then they should pay for their crime and a old fashions hanging , would take the venom from their bit and save tax payers a lot of money ! These people only believe in one thing , and won’t stop killing until they have become marts and well here in the USA and the world are emanated ! So find the nearest tree and a good rope and that will solve that problem ” END OF STORY “

      • Hipockets says:

        I mihgt add,PIGS BLOOD would solve a lot of the problem’ Just start pouring it on the dead ones, the ones left will think twice about messing with us “INFIDELS”

  11. Juan Cabano says:

    Only good rattlesnake is a dead rattlesnake!

  12. David mentioned using the oils from the side of the nose to reduce friction on the fire making bow …. I was taught as a child to rub the tip of each section of a fishing rod against the side of the nose before inserting the pieces together …. it helps keep them from getting stuck together and makes it easier to take it apart later. Just place that part that slips inside the other section(s) against the crease where your nose and cheek come together and rotate the rod section around a little before putting the rod pieces together.

    • Thanks, Mike…I had never heard or thought of that! It’s amazing how I will sometimes have a solution to a problem and be completely blind to the applications of that solution in other areas.

    • When I was in 7th grade in 1952, I joined the fishing club at my junior high, and one of the things I will always remember from that was when the club sponsor…..Mr. Seitz…..told us about using the oil from the side of our noses to lubricate the ferrules of our take-down fishing rods. It did make assembly and disassembly much easier that without the oil. As a firearms enthusiast, I have also used that same source of oil to lightly lubricate the rails of my pistols, if I am someplace where I do not have a tube of LSA.

  13. Nothing against snakes per se, but here in Texas I have rattlesnakes, water mocassins, copperheads (all venemous) and rat snakes (non-venomous). I kill them all, the venomous ones for obvious reasons, and the rat snakes because they eat all my chicken eggs and any chicks small enough for them to swallow. My barn cats keep the mice and rats under control, and so killing the snakes doesn’t leave the rodent population unchecked.

  14. I also have another question which I’m unsure if it is known. What is a method to use once someone has already been bitten by a snake or something poisonous? And there is no medical help within a weeks walk. So a situation here is stuck out in the wild with no help of technology- only you can solve this problem.

    • Mitchell,

      SO much of what you need to do about snakebites depends on your situation. Your response is different depending on whether the snake is poisonous or not, whether it envenomated you or not, how young or mature the snake is, what the current social condition is (normal or collapse), how old the victim is, where the bite occurred, the condition of the victim, and how far you are from help.

      In general, (From memory)

      1. Keep the person as calm as possible and their heart rate as low as possible.
      2. Don’t suck with your mouth, but if you have a Sawyer extractor or any type of suction device, put a partial vacuum on the bite area. Don’t cut the skin at all, but you may need to shave body hair to get the suction tool to work.
      3. Keep the bite below the heart.

      Every other potential treatment is somewhat dictated by the situation.

    • This is quite odd but I believe an old issue of Outdoor Life says you should TASE or electroshock the snake-bite immediately (cattle prod.) The high voltage apparently moleculary depolarizes the venom and makes it harmless. You would want to do this before the venom moves too far in and does too much tissue damage.

  15. Johnathan says:

    Rattlesnakes are basically predictable. Terrorists most often are not. They have the ability to THINK and Choose. In the early days 1993 going forward to 1999 I Prayed and hoped that we were only seeing fringes of misguided religion gone astray. I asked a friend once what is the difference between Islam and a Muslim, I had no idea. I felt it was not my concern and would not present itself for me to care about in my lifetime. I live in Texas, Rattlesnakes are a common thing we care about, Terrorists have now become like that. I know what they are, where they come from and how to react if I see one. I too believe we must just act accordingly. If only our government would act accordingly as well. I believed that we once were on the path to dealing with and eventually eradicating the world of them but knowing and seeing their ambition for destruction of the world and having read the terrorist manifesto now I too have come to a final conclusion, it is them or us hands down. I fully expect that one day in my life, whats left of it I may well be confronted with a choice to kill one of the Terrorists or be killed myself. It is the same logic that drives the decision to kill the snake, it just has to be that way now in this world. Once again it looks like it is them or us. I won’t lie down and let them take my life without a fight. Remember the Alamo……………………. That is why I feel there is such a real need to to possess a weapon with me at all times now. Concealed carry is the only way to survive. Texas has passed enough laws and stands behind them so the law abiding citizen can protect themselves and their families 24/7. Sure I hope I never have to shot another living person but if the decision is them or me I won’t have a hard time choosing. DON’T think just react accordingly. Those that read this understand, we don’t have to worry much about he others, they don’t go where we go. Or believe what we believe.

    • Curt Winterstein says:

      It took some real studying, however, I found out that some / all these terrorists that are muslim do NOT want peace! It all goes to the Koran. It’s quite simple really. The Koran says that when the world is full of hate and murder and all sorts of war and bloodshed then the 13th Imam (who never died…) will show up and judge the world. There’s a whole lot more to this that I won’t go into here, but I still think the whole thing about rattlesnakes, cockroaches, etc is right…

    • Hipockets says:

      AMEN’ GO TEXAS” My feelings exactly and I’m Montana’

  16. Okay a bit off topic but two thoughfs came from this one.
    First what do you do out in the woods when you’ve woken up to find a rattlesnake sleeping right next to you because you’re warm. (Guess you could pet if? 😉 ) I say this because they like to bite and yet any slight movements can cause them to attack/bite.

    Second what is a primitive way to protect against the very common threat of insects/spiders?
    (I know one which involves rubbing urine all over your body- this works for most of them from what I’ve heard). But I’m looking for others as well.

  17. Two years ago, one of my hounds got badly bit by a rattlesnake. Before we went to the vet, I killed it. The next year that same hound got badly bit again and I killed the snake and subsequently killed two more. Then I went on a rattlesnake hunt and killed every rattlesnake that I could.

    I then realized that I had created an ecosystem by having the bird feeders so near to the house. I relocated them. This June, I still had to kill two rattlesnakes near the house.

    So, I guess I have to agree with grandma and your friend from Texas, that the only way to co-exist with these guys is to take them out before they take you out. And that goes for home grown terrorists as well.

    • That’s where the rattlesnake illustration starts to fail…with rattlesnakes, there are no “moderate” rattlesnakes. There are just rattlesnakes, and it’s easier to have a blanket response. “Home grown terrorists” are a little more complicated because of all of the grey area before they actually commit a violent act AND the definition of what a home grown terrorist is. Heck, if you take the basic preparation steps that FEMA tells you to take for natural disasters, it will give you some of the attributes that DHS thinks are indicators that someone is a potential terrorist!

      • David – If they do turn their attention to US when through with Syria, we will have little choice but to have a “blanket response”. I would have pity on the “moderates” eliminated, but a war of survival is messy.

      • Desert Fox says:

        Just wanted to ask if you ate the rattles you killed? As many as you seem to have killed, you should have a freezer-full of rattler meat! It tastes like chicken!

        • Hello Desert Fox,

          Could you help me understand what you’re asking? Was there somewhere where you thought I implied that I had killed a freezer-full of rattlesnakes?

          If you’re referring to the article that my mom sent me that I quoted, that was the author of the article talking…not me.

      • It’s not hard to find the radical Muslims at all because they go to mosques every week where the imams openly teach the need to overthrow the existing legal frameworks (e.g. the constitution) and replace it with sharia law; that Jews and infidels should be forced to convert or be killed etc. They don’t try to hide their hatred for western values. In some cases this is blatant criminal conspiracy, in others just free speech. For the former, they should be prosecuted. For the latter, they should be offered emigration (or deported if not citizens).

    • Regarding the hounds, if you live and let them run where there are a lot of rattlesnakes, you might want to talk with your vet about getting them vaccinated. Hounds are curious by nature and bound to stick their noses where they maybe shouldn’t. Not all vets have the vaccine, but most can get it. It’s a series, like puppy vaccines. It doesn’t mean the dog will have no reaction to snake venom, but generally it’s a much milder reaction that doesn’t leave serious damage. Even a vaccinated dog should see a vet if he’s bitten, of course!

  18. samnjoeysgrama says:

    Do you remember the song by Al Wilson: The Snake? A pretty woman finds a snake nearly frozen to death. She takes it in and nurses it back to health and it bites her. She is about to die and cries to the snake “Why?” The snake, with no remorse replies: “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.” So life imitates art. I’m shooting all the rattle snakes on my place.

  19. Sivispace says:

    I’ll take a rattle snake to a Muslim fundamentalist any day. The rattlesnake bites you once. You get antivenin and get better. A Muslim fundamentalist will continue to kill until he or she gets a bullet in the head. I’ll save my bullets for terrorists and give the rattlesnakes a wide birth. Who knows when a home grown rattler may bite a terrorist after all?

  20. Mary Alice says:

    I was born in Texas and my grandmother wore out many garden hoes in the dispatching of rattlesnakes. If they weren’t killing chicken and literally devouring eggs they were lurking around the well in shallow weeds. She taught all the grandchildren what she called ‘rat thinking’ – don’t stop to think, just kill it.

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