Approved Jan 2009


Whereas certain individuals desire to relive the pleasures, challenges and freedom enjoyed by the pioneering explorers of our wilderness, to promote an inspiring standard of mutual expectations and practices, and to recognize and encourage those who have proven their dedication to these ideals, we the members of the North American Frontiersmen, do hereby approve and support the following Bylaws.

Article I

Association Name

This association shall be known as the North American Frontiersmen. The initials NAF may be used when the meaning is clear.

Article II

Association Mission

The purpose of the North American Frontiersmen is to promote personal honor, fellowship, and self-reliance by researching, demonstrating and celebrating the skills and activities of North American pioneers of the 1750 to 1843 period. NAF members are experimental historians who rediscover and practice time-honored techniques and knowledge, so that these skills are preserved for the benefit of future generations.

Article III

Types of Membership

The North American Frontiersmen recognize the following categories of membership:

A. Apprentice (Probationary Member – non voting): Has been invited to join the NAF, and is fulfilling the requirements for full membership.

B. Woodsman (Regular Member): Has demonstrated the basic abilities needed to survive in the wilderness, and has earned all participating rights of member-ship. Has a membership number, may vote, and may hold any office except Captain or Elder.

C. Mountaineer (Advanced Member): Has demonstrated mastery of wilderness skills and leadership within the Association, and is qualified to hold all offices.

D. Ranger (Junior Member – non voting): A person below the age of 18, who has written parental permission to perform the activities of an Apprentice. Probation shall extend to the age of 18. Woodsman status may then be awarded if requirements have been completed; otherwise the Ranger may pursue a regular Apprenticeship.

E. Joining at an Advanced Degree: Candidates who can show that they have fulfilled the appropriate requirements in similar organizations, or through their own experience, may qualify to enter the NAF at an advanced level of membership. Such candidates must be sponsored by a member of similar or higher degree, and shall demonstrate their accomplishments to the satisfaction of their sponsor and the Council of Elders. Fees will be payable only for the degree being applied for.

F. Waiver of Liability: All members agree to manage their own risk during Association activities, holding the Association, its officers, and owners of property used for events, free of liability and damages.

Article IV

Requirements for Apprentice (Probationary) Membership

A. Membership in this association is by invitation only.

B. Prospects shall be sponsored by at least two Woodsman members, or one Mountaineer member.

C. To be accepted as Apprentice, the prospect must be at least 18 years old, and demonstrate interest and motivation during at least two outings with at least one sponsor, whose letter of recommendation with properly filled out application, and fees as shown, shall be sent to the Captain who shall present it to the Council of Elders for approval.

D. The Apprentice must own and demonstrate safe use of a period firearm or bow suitable for the gathering of food as well as defense, and must have a basic period outfit (clothing, knife, fire kit, bedroll, personal effects).

E. The Apprentice must complete the requirements for Woodsman membership within two

years or be dropped. Requests for extension must be for good cause; the sponsor shall provide a written explanation and obtain approval from the Council of Elders.

F. Good sponsorship is crucial to the well-being of any invitational association. Sponsors are fully and personally responsible for upholding, demonstrating, and teaching the traditions and standards of the Association, and should ensure that each prospect receives full attention. Their certification that a prospect is suitable and ready for advancement is a solemn responsibility.

Article V

Requirements for Woodsman (Regular) Membership

A. To advance from Apprentice to Woodsman membership, the prospect should actively participate in as many events as possible, and the requirements shown below must have been demonstrated to the sponsor's satisfaction before the two-year probation period has ended:

1. Have a complete personal outfit

  • clothing
  • weaponry
  • camping gear
  • traveling gear

appropriate to the time period, local climate, and conditions, suitable for living indefinitely from the land, using authentic tools, materials and techniques.

2. Must have accumulated 15 days of total time in the field, under primitive conditions, in increments of not less than 2 days and 2 nights, including camps in all four seasons of the year.

  1. During these outings, must demonstrate basic survival skills such as procuring sustenance (hunting, gathering and fishing)
  2. procuring safe water
  3. making shelters
  4. starting fires (by at least two methods)
  5. making cordage
  6. cooking for yourself and others (with and without utensils)
  7. field maintenance of clothing
  8. tools and weapons.

3. Complete a journey of 50 miles using methods typical of the frontier. Up to three lesser journeys may be combined, but if so, 75 miles must be covered.

B. To apply for Woodsman membership,

  1. Apprentices must complete a current Application Form, describing when, where, and how they have met each requirement, including any requirements met before the Apprentice's probation, and remit the stated fee.
  2. The sponsors shall forward this report to the officer shown on the application, with their written recommendation for advancement, for presentation to the Council of Elders, who will either approve the application or return it for amendments.
  3. Approved applications are forwarded to the Treasurer, who shall credit fees, assign the next available membership number, notify the member of advancement, and advise about the purchase of a Woodsman Medallion.
  4. The person will then be called a Woodsman (regardless of gender).

Article VI

Requirements for Mountaineer (Advanced) Membership

A. To advance from Woodsman to Mountaineer member-ship, the candidate must demonstrate exceptional qualities of perseverance, survival skill, and leadership, by completing the following requirements.

1. Travel a total of 200 miles using methods typical of the frontier, in minimum increments of 10 miles, each outing to last at least 2 days and 2 nights.

2. Survive four days and three nights alone, procuring enough sustenance from the land to demonstrate the ability to continue indefinitely.

B. In addition, the candidate must demonstrate special skills, experience, and service by completing 8 of the following requirements, choosing at least four outdoor skills from the first 8.

1. Demonstrate saddling and riding a horse, including routine trail care and overnight picketing, using period equipment.

2. Demonstrate ability to pack at least 90 lbs of goods on horse or mule, and traverse at least 5 miles with the animal and pack arriving in usable condition. Goods must be protected from typical adverse conditions.

3. Demonstrate proficiency in packing at least 90 lbs in a canoe and traversing 5 miles including at least one portage of at least 300 yards.

4. Demonstrate proficiency in packing at least 200 lbs in a period style two or more wheeled cart or wagon and transport load safely at least 5 miles.

5. Using period methods, process enough hide(s) to make one major item of clothing (shirt, pants, coat, dress) or enough for one layer of bedding.

6. Make, at some point, each necessary article of clothing from the skin out, using natural materials of the period, including footwear and at least one hat, as required to survive afield in all four seasons. Period materials may be purchased, but must be hand-sewn by the candidate.

7. Within 30 minutes, hit a 9" target six times at 50 yards using a period muzzle-loading rifle, at 30 yards using a period smoothbore, or at 15 yards using pistol or period bow and arrows.

8. Organize and conduct two primitive NAF events, lasting at least 2 days and 2 nights, hosting a cumulative total of at least six persons. Alternatively, organize and host one National NAF event.

9. Organize a meet involving at least 4 members, to demonstrate and practice the skills of a craft or trade useful on the frontier, such as blacksmithing, tanning, tailoring, saddle-making, boat-building, etc.

10. Complete one term of office or serve on a committee or staff position to the Captain's and the Council of Elders' satisfaction.

11. Write and submit a 1000-word research paper to the Senior Editor on the life and times of the frontier, which may include lessons learned by actual experience, suitable for publication. Footnotes and bibliography are required if appropriate to the text.

12. Submit four publishable reports or articles of any length to the Senior Editor that are approved by the Council of Elders during their candidate review.

13. Conduct at least three hours of educational presentations for the public.

14. Define and complete a significant accomplishment of one's own choosing, approved by the Council of Elders, that represents and advances the ideals of this association.

C. To gain Mountaineer membership, Woodsman applicants shall complete a current Mountaineer application form, with statements describing when, where, and how they met each requirement, enclose the stated fees, and present it to the Council of Elders, who will either approve the application or return it for amendments. Upon approval, the Treasurer shall credit fees, update the roster, and notify the member of advancement.

Article VII

Membership Documents

A. Membership certificates will be provided to each person joining or advancing within the organization.

B. Membership medallions will be available for purchase by members who have been awarded a membership number.

Article VIII

Dismissal of Members

A. Probationary Members may be dismissed at any time upon written recommendation of all sponsors and a 3/4 vote of the Council of Elders.

B. Full members may be removed after a hearing and unanimous vote of the Council of Elders for the following reasons:

1. Dishonesty in dealing with other members, or in conduct of Association affairs, as testified by 2 or more witnesses.

2. Slandering another member, as testified by 2 or more witnesses.

3. Falsifying any membership requirement as testified by 2 or more witnesses.

4. Conduct that exposes the Association or its members to harm or injury, liability or legal penalties.

5. The Elders shall have the authority to determine what additional actions constitute a sufficiently serious offense to justify dismissal of a member.

Article IX

Council of Elders

(Membership and Standards Committee)

A. Purpose: The Council of Elders shall ensure the long-term welfare of the NAF by controlling membership and shaping the organization’s structure.

B. Composition: The Council comprises four members of Mountaineer degree, who serve by mutual consent, as long as they desire.

C. Rules of Order.

1. Vacancies shall be filled by unanimous vote of the remaining members.

2. A Council member may be removed for incapacitation or malfeasance, only upon unanimous vote of the Board of Directors and the remaining Elders.

3. The Council shall appoint one member to chair meetings and be the formal point of contact to the organization for all Council matters.

4. A Council member holding an executive office shall not vote in Council decisions regarding that office.

5. Except as noted, decisions shall require a majority vote of the members qualified to vote on that issue.

D. Powers and Duties:

1. Review and rule on all applications for membership and advancement.

2. Serve as a court of appeal for all disputes between members and/or officers. Council members who are party to disputes shall not participate in deliberation and voting.

3. Appoint replacement officers for those unable to serve the final year of their term.

4. Approve the Senior Editor.

5. Approve all emblems, medallions, and promotional literature that represents the NAF as a whole.

6. Approve changes in the membership fee structure, upon presentation of a proposal from the Board of Directors.

7. May reverse decisions of any officer, or the Board of Directors, by unanimous vote.

8. Approve, by unanimous vote, any change in the structure of the Board of Directors.

Article X

Board of Directors

(Executive Committee)

A. Purpose: The Board of Directors manages the day-to-day affairs of the NAF, and as elected positions, their decisions should reflect and represent the will of the membership.

B. Composition: The Board comprises the functions of Captain, Chief Factor, Secretary, and Treasurer. However, specific offices may be added or combined by the Council of Elders.

C. Rules of Order.

1. A quorum of more than half is required to conduct business.

2. Actions shall require a majority vote of the authorized number of board members (2 out of 3, 3 out of 4, etc) unless required to be unanimous.

2. Motions shall be introduced, discussed and refined to the satisfaction of the proposer, who shall then ask for a second, to be followed by a vote.

3. Voting percentages as required in these Bylaws shall apply to the total number of members on the body, regardless of the number of members actually present. A vote that fails to obtain the required majority shall be continued and presented to the entire body at the next meeting.

4. No officer may receive a salary or payment for time spent in performance of duties. However, out-of-pocket expenses may be reimbursed if approved by the Board and accompanied by adequate receipts.

D. Powers and Duties.

1. Captain (President):

a. Responsible for the overall coordination and fulfillment of Association objectives, having full authority to act in the best interests of the Association when time is of the essence. Actions not authorized herein shall be reviewed by the Board and/or Council at the earliest opportunity and are subject to revision.

b. Coordinates the activities of the Chief Factor and the other officers.

c. Presides over general meetings at National Encampments.

d. Presides over meetings of the Board of Directors.

e. With the Chief Factor, appoints committees, always naming an odd number of persons.

2. Chief Factor (Vice President):

a. Assists the Captain in performing his duties of office.

b. Succeeds a Captain who cannot fulfill his term of office.

c. Responsible for local management of Association affairs. May propose, for Board approval, local representatives (Factors) who will preside over an agreed-upon region, provide a point of contact for membership inquiries, coordinate events, encourage the formation of local Companies, and report back to the Chief Factor on local conditions.

3. Secretary.

a. Receives and replies to all inquiries regarding membership standards and procedures, assists applicants in obtaining current forms, and directs applications to be returned in accordance with the application procedures approved by the Council of Elders.

b. Attends Board of Director meetings whenever possible, and is responsible for obtaining accurate minutes.

c. Maintains current copies of Membership application forms, current fee schedules, list of Regional Factors, official reports, voting outcomes, and other Association documents, and provides copies upon request.

d. Prepares and mails election ballots to the membership, as per Article XI and XVI.

e. Fulfills any other expected duties of an association secretary as may be determined by the Council of Elders.

4. Treasurer.

a. Receives and credits all dues, fees, and donations against a permanent roster of all members, active and inactive.

b. Updates the roster as the Council of Elders issues decisions, notifies members of results, and provides refund of fees with rejected applications.

c. Maintains a separate banking account for Association funds.

d. Remains prepared to answer questions about Association finances on an open-book basis.

e. Recommends if changes in dues or fees are required for the coming year, sufficient to cover expenses and maintain a prudent reserve not exceeding one year's expenses.

f. Disburses Association funds using procedures established by the Board of Directors, keeping accurate records of all transactions.

g. The Association having no commercial purpose, and comprising recreational activities supported by volunteer efforts and fees covering only direct expenses, its affairs shall be considered as personal business not subject to tax reporting or deductions. Equipment used to conduct business shall be owned by individuals. Reimbursement for supplies and services may be applied for with supporting receipts.

h. In the event of incorporation, the Treasurer shall supervise preparation of the required annual tax returns.

Article XI

Term of Office and Elections

A. Term of office is 3 years for all elected Officers. The initial term of office shall start on Jan 1, 2006.

1. If an officer becomes unable to serve within the first two years, a special election shall be held using the process described below. In the final year of office, or if necessary to conduct an election, a replacement shall be appointed by the Council of Elders.

B. Elections. Campaigning shall be conducted in the final six months of each term. Ninety days before the end of each term, the Captain shall appoint an election committee of three members, who shall designate a return address for ballots. At least sixty days before the end of the term, the Secretary shall send election ballots to all active full members, listing all candidates who have submitted their names, along with their election statements and qualifica-tions. Ballots shall show the return address, and a deadline date 30 days prior to the end of term, and must be postmarked by the deadline, with seven additional days allowed for delivery. Candidates who receive the largest number of votes (a plurality) shall be elected. The election committee shall issue its report within 15 days of the deadline, thus allowing 15 days for the new officers to make an orderly transition.

C. Addresses. Members desiring to vote shall ensure that the roster contains their current address at the time ballots are to be mailed. Members who do not return ballots may be dropped from active status and will not receive further ballots and mailings. To be reinstated, inactive members must contact the Treasurer, providing a statement desiring re-activation and a current address for the roster.

Article XII

Publications and Research Center

A. Editor. The Captain shall propose a Senior Editor, to be approved by the Council of Elders, to manage all publication and research activities of the Association.


B. Website Advisor. The Captain shall appoint a Website Advisor, to be approved by the Council of Elders, to provide a resource to resolve problems for the Editor's activities of the Association.


1. An Association Newsletter, “Broadside”, shall be published as required to keep the membership informed of activities and elections.

Article XIII

Local and National Encampments

A. The NAF National Encampment will be held each year at a time and place proposed by the Captain and approved by a majority of the Board of Directors.

B. Local Companies (Association Chapters).

1. Members may organize themselves as desired to promote and conduct Association activities, pursue membership requirements, and meet with other members. Such Companies shall elect a Factor who will report on activities and accomplishments to the Regional and Chief Factors.

Article XIV

Guidelines for Events and Activities

A. Dress and Equipage.

1. Members' outfits and equipment shall use material and designs available in the time period of interest. When original materials are no longer available or advisable, the nearest modern equivalent may be substituted, such as steel for wrought iron, but such substitutions shall not be for mere convenience and shall perform in a similar manner.

2. Hygiene supplies, water filters, medicines and appliances required to maintain health and correct for disabilities are allowed, but should be kept out of sight whenever possible.

B. Conduct at Activities and Events:

1. The overall conduct of a period event will be such that a visitor from the past would feel at home. All camps, events, and activities should be conducted with this standard in mind.

2. No discharge of firearms is permitted in camp, except on established ranges or for organized blank salutes.

3. Cameras are allowed, but should be used with discretion and concealed when not in use.

4. The NAF leaves all campsites in as natural a condition as possible. All game laws shall be observed.

Article XV

Association Motto and Emblems



(Look Within)


The Pineapple, and Clasped Hands,

representing friendship.

Article XVI

Amendments to these Bylaws

After initial approval by the membership, amendments to these Bylaws shall require a 3/4 vote of the Council of Elders to frame and issue a ballot to all full members, with pro-and-con arguments, which must then be approved within 30 days by a 3/4 majority of returned ballots, comprising at least half of active full members.

Article XVII

Definitions and Rules

A. Where used in the text, the following terms shall be defined as follows:

1. Period: refers to practices, materials, techniques, and customs known to be in use in North America in the years 1750 to 1843.

2. Primitive: refers to practices, materials, techniques, and customs typical of the American frontier within the time period, and in particular, refers to the basic equipment used by woodsmen to survive away from the settlements.

3. Authentic: Using designs, materials and fabrication methods that emulate those known to be in use during our period. Items that were traditionally purchased from specialist workshops may be made using labor-saving methods, as long as the results are similar to historic methods.

4. Dress: Appropriate clothing and equipment that fits the time period and activities that you have chosen.

5. Gender: Participation is open to both sexes on equal footing.

6. Probation: the period of time designated for applicants to fulfill the requirements for full membership. During Probation, participation is under the control of the applicant’s sponsor(s). Attendance at events is encouraged, ideally with sponsor present; otherwise the applicant is expected to respect the advice of members present.

7. Full Membership: refers to rights enjoyed by Woodsman and Mountaineer members of active status: voting in elections, sponsoring new members, receipt of publications, access to Association records and minutes, right to request hearings and place motions before the Board, and ability to hold offices.

8. Active Member: applied to those who update their address on the roster, and return ballots. Failure to return ballots may result in being dropped to inactive status. Inactive members do not receive mailings or ballots, and must petition for reinstatement per Articles XII-D and XIV-B.

9. Full Days: Specified durations, such as “2 days and 2 nights” shall be uninterrupted, and the first and last day must add up to one full day. Individual “full days” may be counted if all but two hours of daylight is dedicated to event activities.

Final #34 01/10/2009


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A historical quote that we the NAF will display in our thoughts and actions.

"If one can't say something positive about another, then its better to say nothing".

Benjamin Franklin 1768

Updated 5/14/2014