Having served in the military and worked as a bodyguard, Phil Brooke was inspired to launch a new career by a globetrotting bushcraft trip as Harry Maddock discovers.
After niggling parachute injuries and developing serious ankle and ligament problems from serving abroad, I knew my military career was over,” says bowyer and woodsman Phil Brooke on his near decade of service.
What followed was a career as a bodyguard – as is common for veterans like Phil – which he says wasn’t for him. Having always been a lover of the outdoors, he decided to set off on a worldwide bushcraft-style trip, visiting remote areas in Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos, to name a few.
Finding Midhurst-based Woodcraft School, Phil transferred these world trip experiences and completed his Certificate in Bushcraft Leadership in 2010. “I studied hard and lapped up John Rhyder’s [head instructor at Woodcraft School] skill and knowledge over several years.”
Phil founded Chosen Paths Bushcraft in 2011 where he handmakes items such as shields, arrows and longbows like the one pictured. Most of his customers come from people in the target-shooting world as well as bushcraft folk, which are both very tight-knit communities as Phil explains.
He now licences and runs Woodcraft School qualifications with students varying across a diverse client base, typically outdoor educators; from conservationists and ecologists to bushcraft enthusiasts and forest school leaders. “The best part of my role is watching people develop and grow through the courses,” enthuses Phil.
The skills he teaches remind students of days gone by as well as grounding them to the landscape they came from. “It’s about helping people strive to become more sustainable in their lifestyle.”
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