Navigation Skills

Click on a photo below to see that article or video.

Mirror Compass Vs. Base-Plate Compass for Accuracy - Video

This video explains why John feels a mirror compass is more accurate than a base-plate compass for precision navigation.

How To Fold A Map

During our short Map & Compass classes, we don't always have time to show our students how to fold a map. So this is a short tutorial on How To Fold A Map.

Practical Exercises for Compass Accuracy 

Using a compass to navigate seems pretty straight forward. However,  being able to stay on a straight line, without lateral drift, takes  practice. The more you practice the more accurate you will become. I  have used the following two exercises when teaching navigation.

LURD – Determining Direction Using One Star

I  have seen a lot of information on navigating by using stars. Many of  these require that you have a clear view of the sky so that you can see  various constellations such as the Big Dipper, Little Dipper,  Cassiopeia, just to name a few. Unfortunately, you are not always in a position to see a large portion of the sky. This is especially true when  you are in a heavy canopy and only have a small hole to look out through to see the stars. Sometimes you can only see a few. Therefore I will discuss a technique whereby you can determine direction by observing the motion of only one star.

Boxing An Object

There will times when you are navigating when you'll come to an obstacle that you either don't want to proceed through, such as a swamp or pond. or a physical feather you want to go around, such as a cliff.  But if you just walk around it, how do you stay on your designated course?

Boxing An Object at 60º

This technique is based on the "Equilateral Triangle." That is a triangle in which all three sides are equal. All three internal angles are congruent to each other and are each sixty degrees. This also makes the length of each size the same, which can come in handy when pacing, and you need to box an object.

Pacing For Distance

When  using a compass, it is often necessary to go a certain distance in a given  direction, and you would like to have a general idea of how far you have  traveled.  A way to measure distance is  pace counting.  It takes two steps to  make a pace.  When walking, always start  out with your left foot, and count every time your right foot hits the  ground.  That means that you have taken two steps and that is one pace.

Orienting A Map With A Compass - Video

This is a short video that shows how to orient a map with a compass and briefly discusses magnetic declination.

Baselines, Handrails, and Off Shooting

No  matter how good you become with a compass, when you start navigating through  swamps, thick woods, or up and down rough terrain, you are bound to lose  accuracy.  Therefore, when studying a map, look for a  long physical line that can easily be identified, such as a river, railroad  tracks, power lines, a highway, trail, etc.   This can be used as Base Line for navigation.

Understanding Contour Lines - Video

This is a short video explaining contour lines on a map. It is meant for those who have had a problem comprehending exactly what they show and how they actually depict the topography.  Hopefully it does what it was meant to do.

Staying Straight - Avoiding Lateral Drift

When  traveling, using a compass, I always recommend making short runs, from one  known point to another, if at all possible.   When you site your compass on a known object, it is easier to accurately  travel to that point.  It is more  accurate than trying to travel in a straight line with a known bearing, with  nothing to site on.

Magnetic Declination Demystified - Video

This video explains Magnetic Declination and how it relates to the use of a map and compass.

The Compass - Know Your Choices

A compass is the basic tool of navigation. They come in all shapes and sizes and there are many types to choose from. So let's take a look at the various configurations so you can better select the one that is best for you. I would recommend that the one you choose be a liquid filled compass, which slows the swinging of the needle, called damping, and makes the needle stop faster. 

Check back often for new Articles & Videos