Pioneering Merit Badge Guide

Pioneering Merit Badge Guide

A pioneering merit badge is an achievement badge that discusses knowledge of ropes, knots, and splices along with the ability to build rustic structures by lashing together poles and spars are among the oldest and most honored of Scouting’s skills.

Practicing rope use and completing projects with lashings also allow Scouts to connect with past generations, ancestors who used many of these skills as they sailed the open seas and lived in America’s forests and prairies.

Knots, splices, and lashings are formed today the same ways they have been done for a long time.

Whether built as models or full-sized structures in the field, the pioneering projects you complete will look very much as they would have at any time in Scouting’s history. Of course, there are a few differences.

One important change that is pioneering is Scouting’s deep commitment to the principles of Leave No Trace. Where pioneering projects are built can be every bit as important today as to how they are built.

Protecting the environment, using appropriate materials, and removing all evidence of your activities after an event lie at the heart of responsible Scouting and pioneering in the 21st century.

Pioneering Merit Badge Requirements

1. Do the following:
(a) Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you might encounter while participating in pioneering activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards.

(b) Discuss the prevention of, and first-aid treatment for, injuries and conditions that could occur while working on pioneering projects, including rope splinters, rope burns, cuts, scratches, insect bites and stings, hypothermia, dehydration, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, sunburn, and falls.
2. Do the following:
(a) Demonstrate the West Country method of whipping a rope.

(b) Demonstrate how to tie a rope tackle and the following knots: clove hitch formed as two half hitches, clove hitch on a bight, butterfly knot, roundturn with two half hitches, and rolling hitch.

(c) Demonstrate and explain when to use the following lashings: square, diagonal, round, shear, tripod, and floor lashing.
3. Do the following:
(a) Using square and tripod lashings from requirement 2c, build a Tripod Wash Station (or with your counselor’s permission, another camp gadget of your own design).

(b) Using rolling hitches or roundturns with two half hitches, and round lashings from requirements 2b and 2c, build a 15-foot Scout Stave Flagpole (or with your counselor’s permission, another camp gadget of your own design).

(c) Using shear, square, and floor lashings, clove hitches on a bight, and rope tackles from requirements 2b and 2c, build a Simple Camp Table (or with your counselor’s permission, another camp gadget of your own design).
4. Explain the differences between synthetic ropes and natural-fiber ropes. Discuss which types of rope are suitable for pioneering work and why. Include the following in your discussion: breaking strength, safe working loads, and the care and storage of rope.
5. Explain the uses for the back splice, eye splice, and short splice. View a demonstration on forming each splice.
6. Using a rope-making device or machine, make a rope at least 6 feet long consisting of three strands, each having three yarns. Whip the ends.
7. Explain the importance of effectively anchoring a pioneering project. Describe to your counselor the 3-2-1 anchoring system and the log-and-stake anchoring system.
8. Describe the lashings that are used when building a trestle, how the poles are positioned, and how X braces contribute to the overall structural integrity of a pioneering project.
9. Working in a group, (or individually with the help of your counselor) build a full size pioneering structure, using one of the following designs in the merit badge pamphlet:
– Double A-Frame Monkey Bridge
– Single A-Frame Bridge
– Single Trestle Bridge
– Single Lock Bridge
– 4×4 Square Climbing Tower
– Four Flag Gateway Tower
– Double Tripod Chippewa Kitchen
– Another type of structure approved in advance by your counselor

Carefully plan the project, assembling and organizing all the materials, referring to the points under Safe Pioneering, and complying with the height restrictions in the Guide to Safe Scouting.

To ensure you’re well-equipped to meet the requirements of the Pioneering Merit Badge, we encourage you to explore our comprehensive guide, “Pioneering Merit Badge Answers“. This companion piece offers detailed insights and answers to common questions, allowing you to navigate the merit badge process with confidence. Turn to this resource to enrich your understanding and enhance your pioneering skills.

Pioneering Safety Guidelines

Building a scale model of a pioneering project involves few risks. However, constructing full-sized towers and bridges requires a keen eye toward safety.

Manage risk during pioneering projects by being alert to your surroundings and by taking action whenever you notice a potential hazard. Doing so will help prevent accidents, avert emergencies, and ensure a fun, safe time.

Follow these guidelines whenever building and using pioneering structures.

  • Dress for the weather. When necessary, wear gloves to protect your hands.
  • Use ropes and materials that are in good condition and appropriate for the project.
  • Coil and store ropes when they are not in use.
  • Avoid wrapping a rope around your arm or waist when dragging or lifting a load.
  • Do pioneering work only when it is nice outside, never during rainy weather or in wet conditions that can make ropes and spars slippery.
  • Practice good body mechanics when lifting and hauling. Lift no more weight than you can handle safely.
  • Use flagging tape to mark anchor lines, ropes stretched between trees, hanging loops of rope, and cords or ropes that could trip or entangle someone.
  • Stand clear of any weight suspended by a rope.
  • Stay off to the side of a rope that is tensioned (under strain from a load). A tensioned rope may snap back if it breaks, a knot comes loose, or an anchor gives way.

First-Aid Preparedness

Pioneering calls for knowledge of first aid. Make it a point to know how to respond in an emergency. Being prepared helps ensure that you and your pioneering friends will have glitch-free fun.

1. Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops so low that it can no longer keep warm. Hypothermia can happen in relatively mild weather, but cool, windy, and rainy weather are particularly dangerous.

Prevent hypothermia by staying warm and dry and eating plenty of energy foods (nuts, dried fruits, peanut butter). Do not push yourself to a dangerous point of fatigue. Early signs of hypothermia include bluish lips and shivering.

As the victim becomes colder, the shivering will stop. Other symptoms may include fatigue, irritability, and disorientation. Begin treatment for hypothermia by removing damp clothing and warming the person.

Prevent further heat loss; move the victim to shelter and cover the head for warmth. If the victim is able to swallow, offer hot drinks and food. Severe hypothermia requires immediate medical attention.

If you suspect hypothermia because someone is acting strangely, challenge the person to walk, heel to toe, a 30-foot line scratched on the ground.

If the person shows unsteadiness, loss of balance, or other signs of disorientation, take immediate action to get the victim warm and dry.

2. Dehydration

Dehydration, or lack of water in the body, can occur at any temperature if a person is sweating profusely and/or not drinking enough liquids.

Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids and eating enough throughout the day. Do not wait to drink until you feel thirsty.

If someone in your group becomes weary or confused or develops a headache or body aches, have the person rest in the shade and sip water until the symptoms subside.

3. Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is one result of dehydration. The body becomes overheated because its cooling methods fail.

Watch for these signs:

  • Elevated body temperature (between 98.6 and 102 degrees).
  • Pale, clammy skin even cool to the touch.
  • Heavy sweating.
  • Nausea, dizziness, and fainting.
  • Pronounced weakness and tiredness.
  • Headache.
  • muscle cramps.

To treat heat exhaustion, have the victim lie down in a shady, cool spot with the feet raised. Loosen the clothing. Apply cool, damp cloths to the skin, or use a fan. Have the victim sip water.

4. Heatstroke

Heatstroke (sunstroke) is far more serious than heat exhaustion.

Watch for these signs:

  • Body temperature above 102 degrees (often above 105 degrees).
  • Red, hot, and dry skin.
  • No sweating.
  • Extremely rapid pulse.
  • Confusion or disorientation.
  • Fainting or unconsciousness.
  • Convulsions.

The skyrocketing body temperature of heatstroke is life-threatening. Cool the victim immediately. Place the person in a cool, shaded spot face-up with head and shoulders raised.

Remove outer clothing, sponge the bare skin with cold water, and soak underclothing with cool water. Apply cold packs, use a fan, or place the victim in a tub of cold water.

Dry the skin after the body temperature drops to 101 degrees. Obtain medical help immediately.

5. Sunburn

Sunburn is a common but potentially serious result of overexposure to the sun. Long-term exposure can result in skin damage and skin cancer.

To prevent sunburn, limit your exposure to the sun, wear loose-fitting clothing that covers the arms and legs, and wear a broad-brimmed hat to shade the neck and face.

To protect exposed skin, apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Reapply sunscreen often and as needed.

6. Minor Cuts and Abrasions

Minor cuts and abrasions usually require only cleaning and disinfecting with soap and water. Leave them to heal in the air, or cover lightly with a dry, sterile dressing or bandage to help prevent infection.

Unless a cut is serious, bleeding probably will stop on its own or with slight pressure on the wound. If a wound is so severe that it does not stop bleeding readily, apply direct and firm pressure using a sterile dressing or compress.

It may help to raise the injured limb (if no bones are broken) above the heart level. Apply pressure to the local artery. If the bleeding is prolonged, treat for shock and seek medical attention immediately.

7. Rope Burns

Rope burns, or friction burns, can happen when a rope slides too quickly through your hands or when any part of the body encounters a fast-moving rope. A rope burn leaves skin raw, red, and sometimes blistered.

The best protection against rope burns on the hands is, of course, to wear protective gloves. If a burn does occur, clean the area with mild soap and water to help prevent infection.

8. Blisters

Blisters form when the skin is irritated, usually by friction or heat. A hot spot signals the beginning of a blister. Stop immediately and protect the tender area by cutting a piece of moleskin or mole foam and covering the affected area.

If a blister forms, build up several layers of moleskin or molefoam, as needed, to take off the pressure. Blisters are best left unbroken. Treat a broken blister as you would a minor cut.

Remove splinters with tweezers. Encourage the wound to bleed to flush out foreign matter. Then wash with soap and water, and apply antiseptic. Cover with an adhesive bandage.

A sprain from twisting or wrenching a joint is usually quite painful and may swell. To treat a sprain, raise the injured area, apply cold compresses, and keep the victim still. For severe or persistent pain, seek medical attention.

Stings and Bites

No matter how much insect repellent you apply, insects will sting and bite, so pay attention where you walk and stand. Treat ordinary insect stings by scraping the stinger out with the blade of a knife.

Do not try to squeeze it out; that will force more venom into the skin. Raise the affected part, gently wash the area, and apply hydrocortisone cream if available.

1. Fire Ant

Fire ant stings can be extremely painful and in some cases cause a severe allergic reaction. You can spot fire ants by their distinctive loose mounds of dirt.

When disturbed, these aggressive ants will swarm and attack as a group and sting repeatedly.

Their stings from tiny blisters; take care not to break the blisters. Wash the injured area well with antiseptic or soap and water, then cover with a sterile bandage.

2. Common Scorpion

The stings of the common scorpion usually are not as dangerous as bee stings. The stings often cause severe, sharp pain, swelling, and discoloration, but generally leave no lasting ill effects.

To relieve itching and pain from a common scorpion sting, apply ice packs or a cold compress if you have it. An over-the-counter antihistamine also can be given.

If the victim has a history of allergic reactions to insect stings or shows signs of illness (persistent pain and swelling, numbness, breathing difficulties), and does not respond to the prescribed antidote, get medical help as soon as possible.

3. Venomous Spider

Rarely, you might encounter a venomous spider or scorpion. Of particular concern are the bites of the black widow spider (identified by a red hourglass on the underside of its abdomen) and the brown recluse spider (recognizable by the fiddle-shaped mark on its back).

Less common are stings from the venomous scorpions found in the desert areas of Arizona, California, and New Mexico. To treat a bite or a sting from one of these creatures, ice the area. Have the victim lie still and, if possible, keep the area lower than the heart.

Tie a constricting band (loose enough to slip a finger between it and the skin) between the bite or sting and the heart. Treat for shock, and watch for the difficulty in breathing; give rescue breathing if required. Seek immediate medical attention.

4. Tick

Ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Remove a tick as soon as it is discovered by grasping its head as close to the skin as possible with tweezers or gloved fingertips; gently tease the creature from the wound.

Don’t squeeze, twist, or jerk the tick; that could break off the mouthparts, leaving them in the skin.

Wash the wound area carefully with soap and water or an alcohol swab, and apply antiseptic. After handling a tick, wash your hands thoroughly.

5. Snakebite

If you are bitten by a snake, assume that it is venomous unless it can be positively identified. Learn to recognize venomous varieties to know when there’s danger and what action to take.

Two types of venomous snakes are found in the United States. Pit vipers (rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths) have triangular-shaped heads with pits on each side in front of the eyes.

Coral snakes have black snouts and bands of red and yellow separated by bands of black. Coral snakes inject a powerful venom that works on the victim’s nervous system; pit viper venom affects the circulatory system.

Suspect a pit viper bite if there are puncture marks, pain and swelling (possibly severe), skin discoloration, nausea and vomiting, shallow breathing, blurred vision, and shock.

A coral snake bite is marked by a slowing of physical and mental reactions, sleepiness, nausea, shortness of breath, convulsions, shock, and coma.

Get immediate medical help for the snakebite victim. While doing so, it is important to limit the spread of the venom and to maintain vital signs. Keep the victim still and the wound below the level of the heart.

Tie a broad constricting band an inch or wider between the bite and the victim’s heart (2 to 4 inches above the bite). Do not use constriction bands on fingers, toes, the head, the neck, or the trunk.

Swelling may cause watchbands, rings, clothing, and shoes to restrict circulation; remove these items from the bite area. Treat for shock. Do not apply ice or give alcohol, sedatives, or aspirin.

The following information to answer the fourth requirement of the Pioneering merit badge.


Rope is among our oldest tools. Ancient peoples made useful lines by twisting or braiding roots, reeds, plant fibers, or strips of leather and used them to haul loads and harness animals.

With rope, they could lash together tools, fishing nets, and shelters. Rope is still important for work and for play. Without it, pioneering projects would be impossible.

When choosing a rope for a pioneering task, consider how strong it is, how much it stretches, how easily it handles, and how well it resists mildew, rot, and exposure to sunlight.

You will also want to note whether it is made of natural fibers or of synthetics.

Natural Fiber Rope

Ropemakers have settled on a handful of plants as the best producers of natural fibers for manufacturing ropes. Each has its advantages. The fibers most often used are manila, sisal, cotton, and coir.

1. Manila

Manila rope is made of fibers harvested from the leaf stems of the abaca plant (Musa textilis), a native of the Philippines. It takes its name from the city of Manila, the Philippine capital.

Fibers can grow 10 feet long, making them ideal for constructing rope. Manila rope is easy to handle and, when new, has a smooth, silky feel.

It is strong, does not stretch much, and is fairly resistant to the damaging effects of sunlight. For tying knots and making splices and lashings, the quarter-inch manila rope is a good choice.

2. Sisal

Sisal fiber comes from a plant in the cactus family, Agave sisalana, found in arid regions of East Africa, Central America, and Mexico. (The name sisal comes from a small town in the fiber-growing region of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.)

Because the fibers are shorter than those of manila rope, sisal rope has only about two-thirds the strength of manila. Sisal fibers also have a tendency to splinter.

This rope is not as flexible as manila and so is not as practical for lashings and for practicing knots. If knots in sisal rope become wet, kinks may remain in the rope after the knots are untied.

3. Cotton

The same cotton plant fibers used to make clothing can also be twisted or braided to form rope. Cotton rope is not very strong, but it is soft and easy to handle.

It is ideal for clotheslines, tying up packages, and other uses that don’t require it to bear much weight. Cotton rope is not useful for pioneering structures.

4. Coir

Originating in the islands of the Pacific, coir rope is made of fibers taken from coconut husks. It is a coarse rope, light in weight, that will float and is not harmed by salt water.

The chief disadvantage of coir rope and it is a big one is that its very short fibers make it the weakest of major natural-fiber ropes.

It is not recommended for use in pioneering projects, especially those that will bear weight.

Synthetic Rope

Synthetic rope is manufactured by twisting or braiding together fibers made from synthetic (mainly petroleum-based) materials, giving a variety of rope types that can be produced in almost any color and matched to many uses.

Some synthetic ropes can be more vulnerable to sunlight than natural-fiber ropes. However, they generally resist rot and mildew better than natural-fiber ropes and, in many cases, are stronger.

1. Polyester

Polyester rope usually is found in braided, rather than twisted, form. This strong, durable rope handles well and doesn’t stretch much. It is less affected by sunlight than most other synthetic fibers.

Polyester rope is excellent for practicing knot tying and for use in pioneering work.

2. Nylon

Modern nylon rope is more than twice as strong as manila rope of the same diameter. It is available in braided form and twisted strands.

Nylon rope has more stretch than other synthetic or natural-fiber ropes, but it recovers its original shape after tension from a load has been released.

Nylon rope a quarter-inch in diameter works well for practicing knot tying and making lashings.

3. Parachute cord

A core of nylon strands covered with a braided nylon sheath, this cord takes its name from the role it plays with parachute rigging.

It has a thousand uses around camp, from tent guylines to tying gear onto packs to hoisting food bags into trees as bear hangs.

However, for pioneering projects, the parachute cord can be used only for small projects (camp table, a rack for drying clothes).

The relatively low breaking strength of parachute cord (generally 200 to 500 pounds) means it should never be used for full-sized towers, bridges, or other weight-bearing pioneering projects.

4. Polypropylene

Polypropylene rope will float, making it a good rope for waterfront activities and in wet conditions.

Polypropylene rope handles well, but its slippery finish makes it unreliable for holding knots or forming secure lashings, especially when the rope is new.

While polypropylene has about twice the strength of manila rope of equal diameter, it also stretches more.

This rope can be used in pioneering projects as a line for pulling towers into position, as guy ropes anchoring structures in place, and as hand lines for monkey bridges.

Its strength makes it suitable for anchoring systems and for any uses involving heavy strain. Its slippery surface reduces the friction of rope tackle systems.

5. Polyethylene

Polyethylene is an inexpensive braided rope. Knots and lashings will leave kinks in polyethylene rope that has been under tension, which makes it unsuitable for most pioneering projects.

Polyethylene (also known as Dacron®) does float, giving it limited use at waterfronts, for example as towropes for water-skiers.

6. Kernmantle

Today, the only rope approved for BSA climbing and rappelling activities is nylon kernmantle rope. This strong rope has a core of parallel or braided nylon strands (the kern) surrounded by a woven nylon sheath (the mantle).

Breaking Strength and Safe Working Loads

New rope will have breaking strength and safe working load information printed on its packaging or included with the rope as a tag or pamphlet.

The breaking strength of a rope indicates how many pounds of strain it will take before failing.

The working load strength of a rope, usually less than 20 percent of its breaking strength, indicates the load the manufacturer recommends should not be exceeded.

A typical comparison of safe working loads and breaking strengths for new ropes of various kinds in this case, ropes of 3⁄8-inch diameter looks like this.

3⁄8-Inch RopeApproximate Safe Working Load*Approximate Breaking Strength
Manila122 Pounds1,220 Pounds
Sisal108 Pounds1,080 Pounds
Cotton90 Pounds900 Pounds
Coir65 Pounds337 Pounds
Polyester334 Pounds3,340 Pounds
Nylon278 Pounds3,349 Pounds
Polypropylene340 Pounds2,440 Pounds
Polyethylene410 Pounds3,725 Pounds
Typical Comparison

A rope’s safe working load will diminish as it is used. Tension placed on the rope, exposure to the elements, and the effects of knots, lashings, and drop loading (using a rope to suddenly stop a moving weight) can all reduce rope strength.


Most knots used today have been around for centuries. They have endured because the way they’re formed their architecture has proven to be ideal for certain uses.

1. Knots and Rope Strength

Tying knots in a rope causes bends and loops that place uneven strain on the fibers. That can reduce the strength of the rope and decrease its breaking strength.

Also, the effects that knots and splices have on a rope vary according to the condition of the rope and the nature of the knot or splice.

For instance, knots such as the square knot that create tight bends weaken a rope more than knots with wide bends such as the timber hitch and bowline.

This list shows the approximate percentage of strength left in a rope tied or spliced in certain ways.

Full strength of dry rope100 percent
Eye splice90 percent
Short splice80 percent
Timber hitch, roundturn, half hitch65 percent
Bowline, slip knot, clove hitch60 percent
Square knot, sheet bend50 percent
Overhand knot45 percent
Knots and Rope Strength

2. The Language of Knots

A little terminology can help you learn how to tie knots and understand their advantages.

Running end. The end of the rope is used to tie a knot. This end is also called the working end.
Standing part. All of a rope that is not the running end.
Overhand loop. Formed when a loop is made so that the running end of the rope is on top of the standing part.
Underhand loop. Formed when the running end of the rope is placed under the standing part of the rope.
Bight. Formed by doubling back a length of the rope against itself to form a U. The running end of the rope does not cross the standing part. (If that happens, the shape it forms is a loop, not a bight.)
Turn. To take a turn, wrap the rope once around a spar or a stake. The friction created by the turn can help you control a line that has tension on it, especially if you are letting out a line or taking it in.
Round turn. Make a round-turn by wrapping the rope once around a spar or stake and then halfway around again so that the running end of the rope is going back toward the standing part. A round turn creates additional friction for controlling a line under strain.
Hitch. A knot that secures a rope to a spar or other stationary object.
Dress a knot. To adjust a new knot so that everything is in its place. Dressing a knot ensures that the knot will perform as expected.
The Language of Knots

3. Basic Knots

The knots listed here are important basic knots for use in pioneering and other Scouting activities. These are the knots important to rank advancement.

A Scout earning the Pioneering merit badge should be able to tie each of these knots quickly and well.

The square knot is used to tie together the ends of two lines of the same diameter. It is not a reliable knot when used with larger ropes, but is ideal when tying a package with cord or for finishing some lashings and whippings.
The bowline makes a fixed loop that will not slip. It is easy to untie.
The clove hitch can be tied with the end of the rope or tied along the standing part of the rope and slipped over a spar. It is used to start several lashings.
The sheet bend is used for tying the ends of different sized ropes together. The bend of the sheet bend is formed in the larger of the two ropes.
The timber hitch is used for dragging a log and for starting a diagonal lashing. As tension is put on the rope, the timber hitch gets tighter but is always easy to untie.
Basic Knots

4. Useful Pioneering Knots

For pioneering projects, you will need to add these additional knots to your repertoire.

Round turn With Two Half Hitches

Round turn With Two Half Hitches. Use the round-turn with two half hitches to secure the ends of foot ropes and hand ropes for a monkey bridge, and to tie off guylines.

If desired, you can secure the running ends with safety knots. This knot is especially useful because it is secure and is easy to tie and untie when adjustments are needed.

To make a round turn, take the running end of the rope around a spar. That will allow you to hold tension on a line while you complete the two half hitches.


Use the sheepshank to temporarily shorten a rope’s length or to bypass a weak spot in the rope. To begin, take up the slack to shorten the line.

  1. This forms two long bights next to each other.
  2. Secure one bight by forming an overhand loop in the standing part of the rope ahead of the bight and slip it over the end of the bight.
  3. Form another overhand loop ahead of the second bight and use it to hold that bight in place.

Read the information below to help you answer the 2b requirement of the Pioneering merit badge.

5. More Pioneering Knots

The following knots are useful in many pioneering projects. Although you do not need to know how to tie them all to meet the requirements for this merit badge, it is a good idea to become familiar with each of them.

Knowing these knots will enhance your skill, increase your knowledge, and provide plenty of enjoyment and satisfaction.

Figure Eight on a Bight. Forming a bight (a bend) in a rope and then tying a figure-eight knot with it results in a loop that will not slip or come loose. When this knot is tied at the end of a rope, back it up with a safety knot.

figure eight

Figure Eight FollowThrough. This is the same knot as the figure eight on a bight, except when it is made, it can be tied around a tree or stake or through an anchor ring.

Begin by tying a simple figure-eight knot in a rope.

  • Run the end of the rope around an anchor or through the ring to which you want to attach it.
  • Then trace the end of the rope back through the figure-eight knot (the “follow-through”).
  • Back it up with a safety knot.
Rolling Hitch

Rolling Hitch. The rolling hitch has many uses, such as tying a rope to a stake or a spar or forming a hand or shoulder loop to pull a spar. Essentially it is a clove hitch tied around a spar with an extra turn.

Pull can be exerted on a rolling hitch either perpendicular to or parallel with the spar. It will untie easily. When you need extra gripping power, make additional turns as you tie the hitch.

butterfly knot

Butterfly Knot. This knot creates a fixed loop anywhere along the standing part of a rope. The butterfly is secure, easy to untie, and can withstand tension from any direction.

When using a rope to pull a heavy object (such as a log), tie a series of butterfly knots to form loops for each person’s hand or shoulder.

When climbing a rope, tie a series of knots to form loops for your hands and feet. This knot also is used when forming a trucker’s hitch.

Water Knot. Use this knot to tie together the ends of a piece of rope (such as a flagpole rope) or nylon webbing to make a sling for use with anchoring systems.

The water knot won’t slip once it has been tightened and is almost impossible to untie a good thing when used with anchor slings. Back up the water knot with safety knots.

Carrick bend

Carrick Bend. Use this knot for tying together two large-diameter ropes, especially if there will be a heavy strain on the rope. The knot will tighten under strain but won’t slip and is usually easy to untie.

It works well with wet or slippery ropes. The carrick bend looks symmetrical as it is being tied, but pulling it tight greatly changes its appearance.

For more about knots, you can visit or by reading the pamphlet that I have shared. Here is information to answer the fifth requirement of the pioneering merit badge

Splicing Rope

Splicing is a means of weaving the strands of any natural-fiber or synthetic three-strand rope to protect a rope end from unraveling, to form a secure loop in a rope end, or to join together two rope ends.

Though splices can take longer to form than knots, they have several advantages. They are permanent, reliable, and less bulky than knots, and they reduce a rope’s strength much less than knots that serve the same purpose.

Splicing takes practice. It is easiest to learn if you can sit down with someone who can help you master each step of weaving the strands together.

Three-strand manila rope with a 1⁄4-inch diameter works well for learning to splice.

1. Back Splice

The back splice permanently prevents the end of a rope from unraveling. Because splicing increases the diameter of a rope end more than whipping does, tying knots in the back-spliced rope can be more awkward than when using rope protected with whipping.

Back splice step 1

Step 1 – Unlay rope strands about five twists. Bend strand A back between strands B and C and hold it against the standing part of the rope. Allow the bend in strand A to extend upward about an inch.

Back splice step 2

Step 2 – Wrap strand B around the base of the loop formed by strand A.

back splice 3

Step 3 – Bring strand C through the loop formed by strand A.
Step 4 – Tighten the strands, gently tugging on them to snug them neatly against one another. Doing so makes the crown knot symmetrical, with all three strands identically positioned.

Step 5 – Pass one strand over the strand directly below it and then tuck it under the strand alongside that one. (You will need to twist open the lay of the rope to make the tuck.)

Step 6 – Continue bypassing each strand in turn over the strand directly below it, then tucking it under the strand alongside that one. Repeat this process two more times, going in order with the strands.

After making three tucks with all the strands, cut away half the fibers of each strand. Make the fourth tuck with the reduced strands to taper the splice. Trim the remaining fibers.

2. Eye Splice

The eye splice creates a fixed loop at the end of the rope. Use this splice to make a fixed loop in the end of a guyline or to splice a rope into the grommet of a tent or dining fly, or to splice eyes into the ends of a rope to be used as an anchor sling.

eye splice

Step 1 – Use a square knot to tie a piece of whipping cord around the rope about 6 inches from the end. Unlay strands A, B, and C back to the cord and spread them apart. Bend the rope to form an eye of the size you want.

Step 2 – Twist open the lay of the rope and tuck center strand B under a strand on the standing part of the rope.

Step 3 – Pass strand A over that strand, then tuck strand A under the strand beside it.

Step 4 – Turn the eye over.

Step 5 – Find the strand next to the one with strand A tucked under it. Twist open the lay of the rope and tuck the end of strand C beneath that strand. At this point, the eye will be formed and the three-strand ends will be symmetrical.

Step 6 – Complete the splice as you would a back splice:

  • Pass strand A over the strand directly below it and then tuck it under the strand alongside that one.
  • Pass strand B over the strand directly below it, then tuck it under the strand alongside that one.
  • Do the same with strand C, going over the strand directly below it and then under the next one.
  • Repeat the process twice more, going in order with strands A, B, and then C.
  • For a tapered finish, reduce the diameter of the strands and make a fourth tuck.

3. Short Splice

A short splice is used to join two rope ends together. It can be used to join several shorter ropes to form a longer line, or to rejoin a rope that has been cut to remove a damaged section.

It may also be used to splice the ends of a short length of rope to form a fixed loop that can be used as an anchor sling (also known as a grommet or a strop) for anchoring pioneering projects.

short splice

Step 1 – Unlay the two rope ends 5 to 6 inches. Interlace the strands of one rope end with those of the other. Use the whipping cord to secure the strands in place at the point where they meet.

Step 2 – Pass strand A over the strand directly below it and then tuck it under the strand alongside that one. (To make the tuck, the first twist open the lay of the rope.)

Step 3 – Roll the splice toward you. Pass strand B over the strand directly below it, then tuck it under the strand alongside that one. (Strand B will be tucked under the strand lying next to the strand with A tucked under it.)

Step 4 – Again roll the splice toward you. Pass strand C over the strand directly below it and then under the next one. (Strand C will be tucked under the strand lying next to the strand with B tucked under it.)

Step 5 – Continue the splice as you would complete a back splice or an eye splice.

  • Pass strand A over the strand directly below it and then tuck it under the strand alongside that one.
  • Pass strand B over the strand directly below it, then tuck it under the strand alongside that one.
  • Do the same with strand C, going over the strand directly below it and then under the next one.
  • Repeat the process twice more, going in order with strands A, B, and then C.
  • For a tapered finish, reduce the diameter of the strands and make a fourth tuck.

Step 6 – Remove the whipping cord from the splice. With the remaining three strands, complete the splice on the other side by following steps 2 through 5.

That’s a wrap on our Pioneering Merit Badge journey! But don’t hang up your ropes and spars just yet. To fully embrace the pioneering spirit and complete your badge requirements, mosey on over to our “Pioneering Merit Badge Answers” article. Let’s continue this adventure together, one knot at a time. Happy pioneering, Scouts!

I'm a Mechanical Engineer and lifelong Eagle Scout. My passion for scouting guides my writing, aiming to inspire fellow Scouts on their path. Thanks for reading, and best wishes on your journey to Eagle!