Gentlemen, I am a brand-new pipe smoker and a complete amateur. I've smoked about eight or nine bowls... or, rather, attempted to smoke them. For some frustrating reason, I had to keep relighting constantly and even then I couldn't get a decent, even smoke out of it. The comments throughout this thread were most helpful. I loosened up on the packing, slowed down my rate of puffing, and lo and behold, it actually worked for me this time! I went nearly 10 minutes at a time without having to relight the pipe, which for me was a revelation. The tobacco was far more evenly smoked this time too, although there's still room for improvement. Still, it was quite an enjoyable experience. Thanks to all for the helpful pointers.