Using a Compass

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Using a compass involves holding it as level as possible, finding the desired direction or bearing and using the magnetic north needle as reference. Use a compass to navigate through the wilderness with life-saving tips from an experienced wilderness expert in this free video on surviving outdoors.

Part of the Video Series: Wilderness Survival Tips
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Video Transcript

So using your compass, it is important to have a level platform. So I like to say have a table that comes out of you belly, and just rest the compass on that table nice and level. With the direction of arrow pointing straight away from you. Now say I wanted to head North, I wanted to travel that direction. Before I go into the woods I am going to take a bearing, and know which way I am generally going so that I can come back the opposite way. So I am going to put North as my direction of travel, and then I am going to rotate my body keeping my compass level until the magnetic needle goes into the shed, inside the rotating ring. And now everything is in alignment so I am facing magnetic North. So now all I would need to do is keep hiking that general direction, at the end of the day turn around and hike generally South. Well it is not always that easy, you are not always heading just North or South, you have all these bearings. So if I wanted to head three hundred and twenty degrees or forty degrees I rotate to my direction of travel, and then I rotate my body once again so that the North needle and the North shed are lined up. And the direction of travel line is facing out of me. So North is over there I am facing forty degrees here. Travel that direction, add one hundred eighty degrees to it, and come back the other way. So because you have brought a map with you, and that is obviously an important thing, you can coordinate the use of your map and the use of your compass so that you know where you are. So I have taken the magnetic North lines, and I have drawn them over this map. What I do is I put the edge of my compass on that magnetic North line, and then I rotate the whole unit so that North is again up there. So I have orientated the map to what would really be around me. So if I was here on this island off to my East would be Algery Road, off to my West would be Lionhill Road, in front of me there would be a swamp, and so on. So that gives me a way to orientate myself as to where I am in the world. And then I could pick a route by using my compass, and finding a bearing, and finding my new direction of travel.


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