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Compass Navigation


Compass terminology

  1. Needle - The compass needle is what makes the compass a compass. If it's working correctly, the red end should always point to magnetic north
  2. Rotating dial - The rotating dial is the part of the compass that holds the needle. It is liquid-filled and the needle floats in the liquid.
  3. Degree markings - The degree markings are on the edge of the rotating dial.
  4. Base plate - The base plate is where the rotating dial is mounted to. It is a clear, rectangular plate.
  5. Direction-of-travel arrow - The direction-of-travel arrow is on the base plate. It is used for pointing your compass and finding your bearings.
  6. Index pointer - The index pointer is a line or spot on the base plate against which the bearing on the rotating dial is read. It is usually in line with the direction-of-travel arrow.
  7. Orienting lines - The orienting lines are marked on the rotating dial and turn with the dial as it it rotated. It is used to orient a compass to a map.


Getting a bearing on an object that you can see

Let's say that we’re outdoors and there are objects all around us. You can see a tall tower from where you are standing and you want to know out the bearing.

Here are the steps to follow.
  1. Stand and turn to face the tall tower.
  2. Hold the compass flat in your hand with the direction-of-travel arrow pointing to the radio tower.
  3. Turn the compass housing until the north end of the needle (colored red) rests squarely in the orienting arrow. Remember, “red Fred in the shed”.
  4. Read the bearing from the index pointer.


Following a bearing when you are given a bearing

Let's use an example. Let’s say we are given a bearing that says to stand at a certain spot and take 25 paces at 225 degrees. This means follow a bearing of 225 degrees.

Here are the steps to follow. Pull out your compass and follow along.
  1. Turn the rotating dial until the bearing is set to 225 degrees (this means the 225 degree mark should match up with the index pointer).
  2. Hold the compass flat in your hand so the direction-of-travel arrow points directly away from you.
  3. Turn your entire body until the north end of the needle (colored red) rests squarely in the orienting arrow. Remember, “Red Fred In The Shed”.
  4. You are now facing 225 degrees. Take 25 paces forward and you are exactly where you want to go.


How to orient a map

Map reading (correlating what you see on paper to what you see around you—is a foundational skill that you should practice early and often. Before you can do that, though, you have to have your map oriented correctly.

Map orientation is simple. Here are the steps to follow.

  1. Place your compass on the map with the direction of travel arrow pointing toward the top of the map (usually north on most maps).
  2. Turn the rotating dial so that N (north) is lined up with the index pointer.
  3. Slide the entire compass so taht its straight edges aligns with either the left or right edge of your map. The dial should still be pointing toward the top of the map.
  4. Then, turn the entire map without moving the compass so that the north end of the needle (colored red) rests squarely in the orienting arrow. Remember, “Red Fred In The Shed”.


Following a general direction to get to a road, trail, stream, or river

Use this method to travel safely in unfamiliar terrain when you don't have a map. Let’s say you don't know exactly where you are but you know that there is a road, trail, stream, river or something long and big that you can't miss if you go in the right direction, and you know in what direction you must go to get there, at least approximately.

Let’s say you know that if you go northwest you will eventually get to the road, trail, stream, or river. Here are the five easy steps to follow:

  1. Identify the northwest tic mark on the compass housing. (the compass housing is the thing that turns)
  2. Rotate the compass housing so that the northwest tic mark lines up with the direction of travel arrow on the base plate.
  3. Hold the compass in your hand very flat and turn your body until the red part of the compass needle is aligned with the northwest tic mark on the compass housing.
  4. Look at where the direction of travel arrow is pointing. That’s the direction you want to walk.
  5. Aim with your eyes on some point in the distance and start walking. If walking long distances, do the aim and walk method quite frequently, say every 50-100 ft.
 

Using a compass with a map

When you use both a compass and a map together, the compass is really good and you’ll be able to navigate safely and accurately. Let’s say you have a map and you know where you are on the map. We’ll call that Point A. You also know where you want to travel to. We’ll call the place you want to travel to Point B. So, to travel from Point A to Point B on the map you follow these five steps. 
  1. Align the outside edge of the base plate with Point A and Point B. Both points should be touching the outside edge of the base plate. Make sure that the direction of travel arrow is pointing in the direction you want to travel. In other words, the direction of travel arrow should point to Point B on your map.
  2. Turn the compass housing so that the orienting lines in the compass housing are aligned with the meridian lines on the map. Ignore what happens to the compass needle while you do this. All you’re doing here is aligning north and south on the compass housing with north and south on the map.
  3. Carefully take the compass away from the map.
  4. Hold the compass in your hand very flat and turn your body until the red part of the compass needle is inside the red box on the compass housing. This can be remembered with the saying “red in the shed”.
  5. Look at where the direction of travel arrow is pointing. That’s the direction you want to walk.
  6. Once you have the direction, aim on some point in the distance, and walk there. Do the aim and walk method quite frequently, say every 50-100 ft.

That's all there is to it! 

Here is a link to a very good Boy's Life video that will help too! https://youtu.be/NRegjmtXq3g


How to use your compass while walking around obstacles

When you reach an obstacle while hiking with a compass, the best method for maintaining your course is to hike a rectangle around the object. Here's how to do it -
  1. Set a new bearing 90 degrees from your original heading and walk that until you have cleared the obstacle along that axis. You can chose either left or right. Just turn 90 degreesFor example, if you original bearing was 30 degrees, hike a new bearing of 120 degrees (30 + 90). While walking, maintain a count of paces.
  2. Go back onto your original bearing, parallel to your original course until you clear the obstacle along that axis.
  3. Set a bearing 90 degrees back to your original bearing. 300.  and walk the same number of paces.
  4. Now turn back to your original bearing. You will be along your original line of travel.

 


How to measure your distance per pace


A good way to measure ground distance is by using the pace count. A pace is equal to two natural steps, but can very according to your height and stride. The idea is to know the distance of your pace so that you can accurately determine distance while walking. For example, if you walk 10 paces and know that your pace distance is 3 feet, you can safely assume that you have traveled 30 feet, or at least close to it. 
 
This can come in handy when completing an orienteering course. To complete the course you may be provided with a series of bearings along with a distance. You can determine the direction of travel by using your compass but would have no idea how long to keep walking unless you knew your pace distance.
 
Here is how to calculate your pace distance.

        Materials you will need:
            Notepad
            Pencil
            A small calculator would help
  1. Choose a level area where you can walk straight between two markers.
  2. Measure a set distance from one marker to the other. Using a measuring tape is good for this. It doesn't matter what distance you measure out but keep in mind that the longer the distance, the more accurate your pace distance will be. A suggested distance is 50 feet.
  3. While standing at one marker, step out with your left foot then walk in a straight line toward the other marker.
  4. Each time your right foot hits the ground, count that as 1 pace. (That means you'll take two steps to count one pace).
  5. Keep counting paces until you reach the farther marker.
  6. Now, divide the distance you measured by the number of paces that you counted to come up with your pace distance. For example, if you’ve measured out 50 feet and you've taken 25 paces, your pace distance is 2 feet.  

My pace distance:  ______________

Tip: Remember that the longer the distance, the more accurate your pace measurement will be. If you want a much more accurate pace measurement, walk the distance two more times then add the numbers together and divide by three. That will average out some of the variances in your steps.

Now that you know your pace distance, you can estimate how far you walk. All you need to do is keep track of the number of paces that you travel and multiply that number by your calculated pace distance.


How to practice your bearing accuracy using the 3-leg compass walk


The 3-leg compass walk will help you improve your bearing accuracy. Here's how to do it -
  1. Stand in a large open area where you can walk 100 paces in any direction.
  2. Mark the location on the ground you are standing with a bright colored marker of some sort.
  3. Next, set a bearing for 0°/360° (due North) and point your body toward that direction.
  4. Hold your compass up to your line of sight in the direction your body is pointing and locate a landmark off in the distance.
  5. Follow this bearing for exactly 50 paces, always walking toward the landmark, and then stop.
  6. Now, set a bearing of 120° on your compass and find another landmark that falls along it.
  7. Travel along this 120° bearing for another 50 paces, always walking toward the landmark, and then stop again.
  8. Finally, set a bearing of 240° on your compass, sight a landmark, and follow this bearing for 50 paces.
If you've done everything correctly, you should have returned to the location where you set the bright colored marker when you first started. The closer you are to your marker, the more accurate your navigation. Do this three times and try to become more and more proficient.

Next, increase the challenge by doubling the number of paces to 100. With the greater distance, the accuracy of your bearings will be even more crucial.
 

Pioneering

Instructor Guide for Lashing

 
 
 

First Aid

American Red Cross Emergency Test (1990)

The American Red Cross Emergency Test was a TV special produced in coordination with Proctor & Gamble and aired on ABC on June 7, 1990. The format involved a 20-question interactive test that offered viewers to test their knowledge involving various accidents and emergencies. Click here for the video.
 

First Aid for sprained ankle

A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that help hold your ankle bones together.Click here to watch a video that will teach you how to apply first aid for a sprained ankle.

How to tie a sling for arm or collar bone injury

The collarbone is a long, thin bone between your breastbone (sternum) and your shoulder. It is also called the clavicle. You have 2 collarbones, 1 on each side of your breastbone. They help to keep your shoulders in line. A broken collarbone is a common injury in young children and teenagers. This is because these bones DO NOT become hard until adulthood. Click here to watch a video that will teach you how to apply first aid for a sprained ankle. The most important thing to do if a collar bone injury is suspected is to immobilize your arm and shoulder with a sling. Click here and here to watch a video on how to tie a sling.

Bandaging techniques for a head injury

Head injuries can be mild or sometimes serious. Oftentimes a bandage is required. Click here for a demonstration of the correct head bandaging technique for both scalp and head wounds.