the "What Qualifications do you have?" question has always been an interesting one in Bushcraft, since no formally recognised qualifications for the subject exist and there is no nationally recognised standard.
The number of informal qualifications (by this I mean non-nationally recognised) that a person has rarely gives any indication of a person’s competence in the bushcraft skills.
For example many of the people who have visited this site have become familiar with Jack and his often amusing rants (sorry jack :-D)
Jack who makes his living as a hurdle maker has no formal qualifications in bushcraft at all, but he has lived and worked in the woodlands all his life. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to spend some time with him know that every morning jack feeds livestock and milks his goats (and makes nice rugs out of them :shock: ) before setting off into ancient coppiced woodland to start a days work making hurdles just the way his ancestors have for hundreds of years.
Jack makes his living from the woodlands, He is by this very definition a Woodsman.
Yet he holds no qualifications as a woodsman and to argue that someone who has done some 'courses' is a better and more competent woodsman is absurd and ridiculous.
In the time that it takes for a person who has done all the 'courses' with the best schools to build a debris shelter, Jack could build a wattle hut! and would probably be busy converting some goats into rugs to decorate it :-D
After all what qualifications do people like Ray Mears, Mors Kochanski etc have? Yet no one would argue that they are not qualified
And remember that having all the knowledge and experience does not make you a good teacher, many of the best woodsmen in the world have great trouble teaching others, and in the same respect being a good teacher does not mean that you have the knowledge to pass on
Those that have the knowledge and the ability to teach it will earn the respect they deserve
Another problem is that bushcraft does not have any clear boundaries it is an endless learning curve with millions of different disciplines, the tracker, the falconer, the hurdler, and the botanist all have there place in bushcraft yet rarely could one do the job of the other.
As someone once said to me: It all depends on who you use as a benchmark, Ray Mears is an extremely competent woodsman yet the Evenk reindeer herders of Siberia make him look like he still has paint on
And I know that when Ray reads this he will not be offended, anyone who has watched his time with them on TV will have seen his immense respect for them and their abilities.
After all everyone learns from someone!
The simple point that I am trying to make in a very long-winded way is that not having qualifications does not mean you do not have more experience than a course could ever provide
Remember that next time you ask, "What courses have you done?"
As for me, I have only ever done one bushcraft course and all my experience of living outdoors comes from 6 years in Saudi Arabia
All I have learnt comes from watching the bedu nomads whose knowledge of desert survival holds me in wonder.
All my experience is of the deserts of the Middle East, I have little or no experience or knowledge of the temperate north, but I'm Learning
As are we all
Success is not measured by what you have, but by what you can do without.