In the month of May of 2010, a friend of mine Chance Sanders and his wife Laura asked me to attend some training with Madison Parker in north Florida. I’m always looking to learn something new and I had heard good things about Madison before from some other folks in the outdoor adventure industry so I decided to join them. Plus Chance and I had some blades to review so we thought this would be a good opportunity to get together and test them.
To describe a little about Madison Parker, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy from 1969 to 1981 with Special Warfare Group One, SEAL Team One. He also received basic Underwater Demolition/Seals (BUDS) training; Jungle environmental Survival training (JEST); UDT/Combat Swimmer training; Army ranger training in Winter Warfare/Survival; Army Airborne; Jungle Survival - Panama Canal; and training in SERE School. Currently he trains special warfare groups for the Department of Defense and also teaches private classes to civilians. More can be read about him on his website at http://www.primitivesupply.com/home.html
It was almost a nine hour drive from my home to Madison Parker’s property in Marianna, Florida. Once there, I met with my friends and they introduced me to Madison. I also met a SEAL team member that Madison advised would be receiving training with us. Then we headed out to another portion of his property where Madison built a quonset hut for his SOG students. This is where we would live for the next four days. As we settled in for the evening we scouted out the training area and had fun back at the quonset hut watching a rodent trying to catch a spider that was the size of my outstretched hand. It was really neat when the spider won.
The first morning we went to a shack located along a river back at Madison’s house to begin our training. Let me start by explaining that Madison conducts his training a little different than many other outdoor wilderness schools. He tries to teach his students in a controlled and relaxed environment. The logic being that he wants his students to be able to learn and practice skills without having to deal with stressors that way the student can concentrate on the proper techniques. Then he takes his students out to practice the skills in the wilderness. Now, a problem many of my outdoor adventure friends and I have is that we don’t know where to begin when it comes training with someone new. I always say, "I don’t know what it is that I don’t know." So, we asked Madison to skip past all of the basic stuff and to start with advanced skills. Madison decided to begin with plant fiber techniques. We went out to gather some materials and made cordage from natural fibers like leaves from yucca plants. Once Madison taught us a couple of different techniques to make cordage, he showed us how to weave the cordage to create different things like containers, backpacks, sandals, hats, and just about anything else that came to mind. This took up about half our day and then we took a break for lunch. When we got back to training, Madison decided to test our primitive fire making skills. He showed us different types of wood from the area that were good for making bow drill sets and then we made a few sets using 550 cord and natural cordage. Of course we had to test out the bow drill sets and Madison had some great tidbits.
The next day, we asked Madison to show us some different types of traps, snares, and triggers. He was a wealth of knowledge. Madison said that he normally only teaches his students a few types at a time because it’s hard for his students to retain all of the information, but we pressed him to show us more and more. We spent almost the entire day drawing diagrams, taking pictures, and making videos of everything he showed us and we practiced some of the things ourselves. We learned a lot, but Madison was right about not being able to retain so much information at one time. Chance, Laura, and I still have to refer to our notes on what Madison taught us.
On the morning of the last day, we made some vicious wood frame sling shots that we used to shoot .45 caliber ball bearings. After practicing our aim for a while, we decided to only train for the first half of the day and then we did a little bit of show and tell with our gear. Madison showed us a few Osage wood bows and forged spears that he had made which convinced us we had to come back for more training to learn his techniques for making those tools ourselves.
To anyone that asks me about Madison Parker, I would defiantly recommend to anyone that if they have a chance to train with him, they should jump at the opportunity. He has courses gears towards teaching basic skills to newcomers and is knowledgeable enough to even teach an experienced outdoors adventurer a thing or two.
Coming up next: PWYP X