Making a fire by rubbing two pieces of wood truly is a magical experience. Much has been written on primitive fire-making... some good some bad. After much encouragement from friends, I have decided to write about the hand-drill.

What qualifies me to write about the hand-drill, you ask? Well, at the time, quite a few years ago, according to many people, I held the world record for getting a coal with the hand-drill--six and a half seconds-- and I was featured in an article in the last issue of American Survival Guide. In many people's eyes, that qualified me as an expert.

When I finally decided to write the manual, I took a different approach; different than many of the how-to books out there. I wanted to share with everyone how I use the hand-drill and how I consistently get coals within 8 to 15 seconds. Yes, I cover the basics such as wood selection and making the notch, but I also cover other things which have never been covered before...things that will improve your chance of success. You will learn why doing the hand-drill certain ways is not necessarily the best way. I have even given a clear explanation on the esoteric skill of floating. I am sure you will find this information like no other information on this subject.

A few years after the writing of the book, someone else, who I consider a friend, beat my record and produced a coal in five seconds. Not one to take a backseat, I managed to comeback and produce a coal in four seconds. This friendly back and forth competition ultimately led us to each produce a coal in 3.5 seconds.


At approximately 2pm pacific standard time on 7/12/08 in front of seven witnesses and using a stop watch. I got a coal in 2 seconds.

I was giving a handdrill class and Gary, one of the regulars, gives me a piece of sotol he picked up. During the class, I noticed I was getting some quick coals, and I turned to Gary and said there's something special about this wood. Now, I've gotten a 3.5 second coal before, and that was something, but it felt different. I told Gary, "today's the day, I feel it".

One of the other regulars, Don, pulls out his stop watch, and I instruct him to count out the seconds as they sweep so i know when to stop. I started out by getting 2 "three second" coals. the second three second coal was timed with two stop watches. After fruitlessly trying for two second coals I was ready to give up. I was getting smoke but when he called out two seconds and I would stop I'd have smoke but no coal. this went on for what seemed an hour of trying. Finally after several new holes and notches, at about 2pm I nailed a two second coal.


During this time, I've also traveled parts of the country giving personal instruction on firemaking and teaching basic outdoor survival.

I'm a field editor for "Wilderness Way" magazine, an emergency response team member for Los Angeles County CERT, and along with Dude Mclean and Christopher Nyerges, I am part of

As a certified instructor and authorized provider for the American Red Cross, I certify students in Wilderness First aid, basic first aid, and Cpr.

I get many emails requesting help or better understanding with the handdrill and other techniques. I find that personal instruction can not be replaced with anything. So, in an effort to provide that personal instruction, I am now offering classes to those who would like to take them. I'm based out of Southern California, so the majority of the classes will be in and around my area of operation. I will, however, also include dates and locations to where I'll be teaching when I'm out of town.

Alan Halcon

Copyright 2007

this is the booklet that started it all. An informative, instructional book that will help increase your success rate using the handdrill.... Reviews

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