As global warming continues, wildland lightning fires have exhibited an increasing trend. The phenomenon of lightning ignition and a model are urgent research fields. In this study, an impulse current generator was used to study artificial lightning ignition. Ignition phenomena for several fuel beds were compared. Flames in the grass bed existed in the form of particles, but these particle flames had a short duration and were extinguished by the shock waves from the artificial lightning. It is noteworthy that a 10/350 μs impulse current could ignite a cotton fibre bed and produce sustained and stable combustion. An artificial lightning ignition model for the fuel bed was established. The model was verified by artificial lightning ignition experiments. The results show that the model could be applied to grass and needle fuel beds and waveforms of 10/350 μs impulse current and short continuing current. The findings of this study provide valuable information for understanding the mechanism of lightning ignition.