Learn Land Navigation

26 Dec

I took a class recently covering land navigation. I had previously read this book on land navigation, but this class was taught by an Army trainer, and it was loaded with even more information, and some interesting field stories. Shared here are a few resources to get you going, so to speak, on land navigation. Take your spouse or kids out in the woods or to a park and practice!

First, you need a compass. The linked compass is an inexpensive model that has the basic features needed. It might not be the most reliable or durable, so if you are going to be climbing Everest, invest in a better compass. For recreational use, this one is fine. It allows you to sight a bearing pretty accurately, using the flip up window.

Next, you’ll need a map protractor. These are different from the simple protractors we used to fail geometry tests in grade school. They are optimized for direction finding on several common map scales.

Of course you will need a map of the area. We have a drafting store locally that carries numerous USGS topographic maps, and certainly you do as well. These are about $12 apiece and are a good investment. Buy a few covering your local area.

For detailed navigational instructions, you can download the Army field manual free of charge. You can also buy this on Amazon, but you might want to just download and print the sections important to you.

Another useful tool is a set of ranger beads. You can hang these from your pack and use them to measure your approximate walking distance. In our class, we paced off 100 meters, counting how many paces each of us took to cover the distance. It took me 64 paces to cover 100 meters. So, every time I walk 64 paces, I slide a bead. After nine beads, I slide one of the four upper beads, recording 1000 meters. These bead sets keep track of 4km total (at which time you will have to consult your map, have a drink, or call for take out!).

Take a look at these resources. For the cost of a family meal at a bad mall restaurant, you can take your family to the park, feed them some beef jerky and have fun navigating back to the car, where you will of course call for take out!




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