There are ten knots that Paoli 1 scouts are expected to know by the time they are 1st Class and it is these ten knots that are tested in the Knot Relay at the Birthday. They are: Square, Two Half-hitches, Taughtline hitch, Clove Hitch, Timber Hitch, Slipknot, Figure Eight, Bowline, Fisherman's, and Sheepshank.

In addition to these ten, the Sheet Bend is a useful knot that scouts are encouraged to learn. All scouts must also know how to lash.

Stopper KnotsEdit

Square Knot (AKA Reef Knot)Edit

The basic knot and often the first thing taught to a brand new scout. The square knot has few purposes outside of simply tying the ends of a rope off to secure it. Therefore it is often used in conjunction with other knots in a support role. The square is often used in First Aid when tying bandages or securing splints. The Square can be used to connect two separate knots but it is not as strong as other knots that can accomplish the same task.

It is formed from the combination of two simple overhand knots (the same knot used when starting to tie your shoes or make a bow) which are the opposite of the other. "Right over left, left over right." properly forms the square knot (or the reverse of "Let over right, right over left"). Doing two of the same (i.e. "Right over left, right over left") will result in a "Granny Knot" which is a vastly inferior knot and should never be used.

Figure EightEdit

The figure eight is often used in climbing and sailing for its effective performance as a stopper knot. The knot can quickly and easily be tied to prevent a rope from being pulled out of a retaining device. Yet even after great strain is put on the knot, the figure eight can easily be untied and if needed quickly retied elsewhere. This is an enormous advantage because some other stopper knots might pull so tightly that a scout would have to cut the rope in order to get it untied.

to tie this knot, one makes a loop with the rope then takes one end around the back of the loop and then into the loop from the front. It is sometimes taught as "make a guy, choke him, and then punch him in the face." As violent as that learning tool is, it certainly works and makes figure eight one of the easiest knots to learn.


Sheet BendEdit

The Sheet Bend is an excellent knot for joining two pieces of rope. The doubled Sheet Bend is particularly effective at joining ropes of different diameters. Therefore, although not a required knot, it is suggested that all scouts learn the Sheet Bend. To tie a sheet bend take rope A and form a U loop, not a full circle loop that would cross itself, and pinch the ends of the U together. Then take rope B and insert it through A's loop from the bottom. Continue with rope B and pull it under the section of A where the U is pinched together. Finally, bring B back up and then took it under itself.


The Sheepshank is used to shorten a length of rope's middle if the ends are already tied off (and thus the middle slack can't simply be pulled out as the rope is tightened). It is a very delicate knot and will easily come apart if there isn't enough tension on it... or if there is too much tension. Because of the Sheepshanks' instability it is not recommended for climbing when the potential failure of the knot might cause serious injury to the climber.

The Sheepshank can be created in several ways but the commonly taught method in Paoli 1 is to create three loops in a length of rope so that when the loops are laying flat their slightly overlap. From this point, one should pull the central loop into the outer loops. Once the middle loop is pulled in both directions, pull the exterior loops closed so that they tighten around the middle loop. The entire process must be done under tension or else the entire knot might come undone before it is even completed.



The Bowline is one of if not the most important knots. It is similar to the Sheet Bend except that rather than connecting two ropes it forms a fixed loop at the end of a rope. This loop can go around or even through an object to secure it. The bowline is used widely in sailing and is also a rescue knot in climbing. There are numerous variations of the bowline which improve upon the basic version or specialize for a specific function. A knowledgeable scout might also be able to tie a one-handed Bowline around his own body.

To tie the Bowline, make a loop with one end of the rope. Then take the other end up through the loop, around the loose end of the rope, and then back down through the loop and tighten. This is taught as a rabbit coming up through his hole, around a tree, and back down his hole.

Slip KnotEdit

The Slip Knot is a simple knot in which one end of rope is used to tie an overhand knot onto some other piece of the same line. This will create a large loop but due to the simple nature of the knot it will easily "slip" to tighten or loosen. For this reason the Slip Knot should not be used as a rescue knot because it will continue to tighten and constrict similar to a rudimentary hangman's noose.


The Fisherman's Knot is a combination joining knot/loop knot depending on how it is tied. It can be thought of as a double Slip Knot when tied with one rope. One starts with a Slip Knot and then ties a second overhand knot onto the rope with the other end of the loose rope. This will end up turning the rope into one big circle with one section being composed of two parallel sections of rope. This section can easily slide and change size.

When two separate ropes are tied together, the Fisherman's is a joining knot. When tying it this way its first stage does not as closely resemble a Slip Knot. Tie rope A to rope B with and overhand knot. Then simply tie rope B to rope A with a second overhand knot. Once both knots are tied simply pull the ends of the rope. This will cause the two knots to "slip" into each other. Once the two are together they will strongly hold against further tension because of their equal and opposite motion cancelling out.


Clove HitchEdit

The Clove Hitch is a crossing type knot which is used to firmly anchor a rope to a typically round object. The knot can be pulled so tightly that unfortunately the Clove Hitch may be come difficult to untie. To tie a Clove Hitch, loop the rope around the anchoring object so that it forms an X on itself. Then take one end around for another loop. When that end has returned to the X, bring the end of the rope back under the most recent loop and pull to tighten. A Clove Hitch might also be tied by prefabricating loops and slipping them over the end of a pole or other object. Although that method may be quicker, it will not work in all cases and is not accepted at the Birthday Knot Relay.

Two Half Hitches (Two Halves)Edit

The Two Half-Hitch is the basic hitch knot formed from two overhand knots or half hitches. To tie, loop the rope around the object you want to hitch to. Once the rope has crossed itself take the free end of the rope around the longer, taught section of rope on the inside (hitch/post side) of the crossed ropes. Then bring it around and make another small loop around the outside of the cross, Finally bring the rope back through the second loop so it is between your newly formed "two half hitches" and pull to tighten. This knot is easily remembered as "one in, one out".

Taughtline HitchEdit

While most other knots are meant to remain stationary or to tighten around an object, the Taught Line is designed to be an easily adjustable knot which can be slide back and forth to both maintain tension on a line but also to lengthen or shorten it as necessary. It is tied much like the Two Halves but instead of "one in, one out" it is "two in, one out". Therefore the rope double loops on the interior section of the line before looping on the outside and then tying off.

Timber HitchEdit

The Timber Hitch is used to secure a rope to a cylindrical object such as a piece of timber. Unlike the more secure Clove Hitch, the Timber Hitch is faster to tie and also much easier to untie no-matter the amount of tension previously put on the rope. This knot is created by creating a loop around the object, twisting the loop at least three times, and then feeding one end of the rope through the loop and tightening. On smaller objects one can loop and twist quickly before ever placing the rope around the object but larger objects might require the rope to be in place first.

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