Posted by Larry Catt on October 13, 2014
"I wanted to take some time to reflect on my recent experience with The Pathfinder School LLC's Advanced Class before I posted anything about it. I needed time to mull over the events and trials completely to do it justice.
I'll begin by saying, Dave Canterbury and his staff are some of the most down to earth and genuine people I've ever met. I count Jamie L. Burleigh and Brian Manning as personal friends and mentors of mine, and I believe I've added a few more the roster. Aside from being good people, they are extremely knowledgeable and have a passion for bushcraft and wood lore. It's incredible.
Regarding the Advanced Class, I'd say the challenge actually trumps Marine Corps Boot Camp. It was literally the most difficult challenge I've ever faced. Never in my life have I ever doubted my fortitude or questioned my will as much. I'm an eight year Marine Veteran with two combat tours to Iraq under my belt, so I know adversity.
Friends who know me, know I am an experienced woodsman with countless hours of dirt time. I've mastered primitive fire, am now an experienced knapper, a budding bowyer, an accomplished marksman, and a general lover of all things regarding self-reliance. Let me be the first to let you know, NONE OF IT MATTERS AT THE ADVANCED COURSE!
Dehydration, food deprivation, and sleep deprivation have a funny way of clouding the mind and making one forget core principles easily remembered while not under duress. The whole purpose of the Advanced Course is to place you in the mindset of an actual wilderness survival situation, while maintaining enough control of the situation to allow for evaluation and safety.
During the course, the weather varied from sunny and 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and snowing. Deliverables came at a blinding speed, and the intensity ALWAYS increased.
The crux of the post is this: No matter how good you think you are, you can always learn more. The new and old knowledge must be tested. The best place to test yourself is at The Pathfinder School LLC. My experience was both extremely humbling and highly informative. My advice to anyone wishing to attend is to ensure you are very physically fit, and you know how to improvise."
Semper Fi and Stay Dirty,
"I would like to take the time to write about the Pathfinder Advanced Class I just recently completed.
As an Australian and due to my work, I am very fortunate to have been able to travel to many different countries and have the opportunity to visit and attend various survival/bushcraft schools and courses worldwide.
I had already completed a Pathfinder Primitive Skills Course and the Basic Survival Class and was impressed with the school's emphasis on putting newly learnt skills under pressure through the implementation of timed deliverables (tasks).
The Advanced class was a continuation of the basic skills of survival/bushcraft, utilizing these timed deliverables except at a more advanced level and at a faster pace, combined with food and sleep deprivation.
The 5 day course saw a huge range in temperature from 68 F (20 C) down to 20 F (-6C) which is bloody cold for an Aussie who just stepped off the plane from Hawaii.
The first day of the course was revision of core skills through demonstration; bow drill fire, navigation (PAUL method), natural containers and cordage, bow making and using trash as useful resources.
Sun up on the second day saw the beginning of the 4 day test phase, commencing with a shake down and stripping of any equipment not on the kit list, no water & no food, then it was go go go.
After a long navigation exercise in our two man teams and arrival at our first base camp, the deliverables (tasks) began and they came at a continuous pace. New tasks were added all the time, regardless of whether or not the last one was completed in time. An 80% pass rate was needed to pass the 40 plus deliverables assigned. One by one the 5 C's (cutting tool, combustion device, container, covering, cordage) were taken away and substitutes had to be found from around us. Groups who did not succeed at friction fire at first were not able to purify/boil water to drink, have fire for warmth or complete other deliverables that fire was needed for.
That’s how it was for the 4 days, with no food or sleep except in 2 hour pickets to man the fire.
The last night was particularly cold and on the last day it snowed, a novel experience for an Aussie.
The course was grueling at times and the lack of sleep and food really took their toll on energy levels and by the 3rd day we were all knackered and the simplest things became a chore.
Every team had their own instructor to aid and guide them through the course. All the instructors (Chris, Darin, Brian, Jimmy and Jamie) were great and worked patiently and tirelessly with all teams.
I learnt a lot on the course and a lot about myself. The course and its timed deliverables really did put our already learned skills under pressure and to the test which is exactly what would happen in a real scenario. These timed deliverables from my experience are unique to the Pathfinder School. I would strongly recommend any of the Pathfinder School courses to anyone wishing to learn reliable, retainable and practical survival and self reliance skills."
Good work Dave to you and all your team!
Gordon Dedman, Australia
"Just went thru the course in April and all I can say is wow!! It surpassed my expectations by far. Kudos to Dave and his Crew. Keep up the great work"