Knots like the bowline or the tautline hitch are iconic for scouting. In fact, on the official list there are 6.
- Square Knot
- Sheet Bend
- Clove Hitch
- Two Half Hitches
- Tautline Hitch
These aren’t just random knots. Each has its purpose and a scout setting up camp will have occasion to use each of them at some point. In fact, most of us will have need for them if we’re honest, but without them we will sheepishly tie overhand after overhand knot hoping it will hold. If only we knew just 2 or 3 (or maybe 6) useful knots.
It’s important that Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts (or those doing similar activities) learn the key knots, not just to pass a test, but so well that they’re second nature. The best way to do that is through repetition and the best way to facilitate repetition is to make it convenient. That is why I put together a knot practice kit for our local Cub Scout den and why I often carry the kit in my pocket and challenge my sons to tie knots at random times.
Here is what you need for the kit:
- Two 8 inch pieces of paracord in two different colors
- One ring
- One clip
- One knot instruction sheet (like this one) or smart phone app (like this one)
- Knife or scissors
- Lighter or match
First cut the lengths of paracord and burn the ends so they don’t fray.
Next put the ring into the clip and tie the two pieces of paracord to the ring. You can use any knot, but I use a bowline for one and a tautline hitch for the other. This just provides a good example of both of these knots for future reference.
You now have a small, convenient setup to practice tying knots. It can be carried in your shirt pocket, your jeans or in a purse or bag. While standing in line, waiting for an ad to play or during any other downtime you simply pull out your knot sheet (or app) and tie your knots.
Keep at it for a few months and you’ll know the knots for life and can share them with others as well. The scout motto is “Be Prepared”. It’s something we all could do a little better – starting with a knowledge of some basic knots.
Help some scouts make their own kits. Make a kit for yourself and a friend and tackle that next situation where you need a knot with a little more confidence.
What’s your favorite knot and what do you use it for? Please comment down below.