Pioneering Program Curriculum III: Square Knot & Roundturn With Two Half Hitches

This is the third post in a series that will eventually comprise an activity-based, unit pioneering program curriculum.

SUPPORTING VIDEOS: How to Always Tie a Square Knot Right / How to Tie a Roundturn With Two Half Hitches

III A. In the BSA, the square knot is commonly referred to as a joining knot and tying it is a requirement to earn the Scout rank. However, the square knot (reef knot) is first and foremost a binding knot. For our purposes, its primary use will be to complete a Mark II Square Lashing.

III B. A roundturn with two half hitches is one of the basic knots that is very reliable for a number of uses in pioneering work. It is easy to tie and untie and does not reduce the strength of the rope due to sharp turns when under a hard pull.

OBJECTIVES

  • Scouts will show they understand the square knot is used as a binding knot and will demonstrate they can always tie it (instead of a granny knot) by relying solely on the appearance of the first overhand knot. Refer to Foolproof Way to ALWAYS Tie a Square Knot Right.
  • Scouts will demonstrate how a roundturn can be used to temporarily hold the strain on a rope.
  • Scouts will demonstrate they can tie two half hitches around the standing part of a rope and draw them up tight against a roundturn.

MATERIALS

  • 3-foot length of 3/16 or 1/4-inch braided nylon or polyester cord for each Scout
  • Length of  1/2-inch nylon or polyester cord and a vertical pole or tree, to serve as a large visual aid
  • Sturdy horizontal pole, lashed between two trees or anchored uprights about 3-1/2 feet  off the ground
  • One 15-foot x 1/4-inch  manila lashing rope for every two Scouts

PROCEDURE A

Standing End on Top, Standing End on Bottom
Standing End on Top, Standing End on Bottom
  1. Utilizing the 1/2-inch cord and vertical pole or tree, the instructor demonstrates how a square knot is used to secure a line or rope directly around an object.
  2. While tying an overhand knot (half knot) around the pole, the instructor explains how it’s always possible to know how to tie the second overhand knot just by looking at the first. This can be illustrated by positioning the two running ends so they are perpendicular to the standing part wrapped around the pole, (see Illustration 1) It’s pointed out that one running end is on the bottom and the other is on the top. When bringing the ends together to tie the second overhand knot, the end on the bottom should stay on the bottom and the end on top should stay on the top, and then the second overhand knot can be tied to form the square knot correctly 100% of the time. This is demonstrated by the instructor!
  3. Using their 3-foot cord, Scouts tie an overhand knot around their thigh, and then position the two ends so they lie at right angles to the part wrapped around their thigh. They then practice carrying the bottom and top ends together to form a square knot.
  4. Scouts bring their 3-foot cords to the horizontal pole(s) and each ties an overhand knot around the pole. When all the overhand knots are in place, they back away and change places with another Scout. The “new” overhand knot is interpreted, and relying only on its appearance, Scouts complete the square knot.
Finishing a Square Knot from an Overhand Knot with the Left Running End on the Bottom and the Right Running End on Top
Finishing a Square Knot By Relying Solely on the Appearance of the First Overhand Knot

5. Alternating the position of the running ends of overhand knots tied around the horizontal pole, races are run between individuals to determine that the ability to rely only on the appearance of the initial overhand knot has been mastered. Reviews are conducted as necessary.

Finishing a Square Knot from an Overhand Knot with the Left Running End on Top and the Right Running End on the Bottom
Finishing a Square Knot By Relying Solely on the Appearance of the First Overhand Knot

PROCEDURE B

1. The instructor wraps the 1/2-inch cord around the horizontal pole forming a roundturn. He explains that a roundturn goes around the pole twice, and when maintaining a grip on                                                                 the running end, a good deal of stress can be held because of the friction around the pole created by the roundturn.

Holding the strain on the standing part in the left hand, and with the running end, starting a roundturn around the pole, continuing to hold the strain on the standing part while forming a complete roundturn around the pole, and letting go of the standing part continuing to hold the strain with only the running end.
Applying a Roundturn to a Horizontal Pole

2. The instructor ties a  half hitch around the standing part of the rope and cinches it up to the roundturn on the pole.
3. The instructor ties a second half hitch around the standing part and cinches that up to the first. He explains that these two half hitches have formed a clove hitch around the standing part and the knot is often called two half hitches. He further explains that when two half hitches are tied like this after a roundturn, the knot is called a roundturn with two half hitches and, as will be seen later, is often used on guy lines and anchor points when building a pioneering structure.

Tying the first half hitch around the standing part, cinching the first half hitch up to the roundturn and tying the second half hitch around the standing part, you get a completed roundturn with two half hitches.
Adding Two Half Hitches to the Roundturn

4. The class is divided into twos. The first Scout holds the end of the 15-foot rope and stands about 12 feet away from the horizontal pole. The second Scout goes to the pole and with the other end of the rope applies a roundturn, while the first gives the rope some tension with a slight, steady pull. When the roundturn is completed, the second Scout lets go of the standing part and with one hand grabbing the running end, he holds the strain still applied by the first Scout. He then adds two half hitches. When the roundturn with two half hitches is tied, the second Scout lets go of the rope entirely. The two Scouts switch so that everyone in the class can demonstrate they are comfortable tying the knot.

INTERPATROL ACTIVITY: Flagpole Race

PIONEERING CURRICULUM: MAIN PAGE

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