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How to master land navigation
I was just wondering if there is a better way to learn and master land navigation with map and compass besides joining my local Orienteering club. I know GPS is all the rage and keeps getting better but a map and compass is as close to fool proof as it gets and GPS can and will fail.
Experience is the best teacher. Start simple in known areas and move up the scale, you will be an expert before you know it. Also watch youtube videos. You can learn anything there!!! I agree with you completely, GPS is great but if you are betting your life on it you have a lot more faith in electronics than I do!
Brunton has a nice training video on YouTube that is quite instructive. Granted it packs a semester of learning into a half hour video, but it is excellent information. I'm sure there are others. I agree with you btw, compass vs gps. I carry both sort of, have GAIA gps on my iphone. Good luck, be safe out there!
GPS is pretty freaking awesome. One technological advancement I am extremely thankful for. Map and compass is an essential backup but has its inherent downsides and dangers as a primary navigation source as well.
Agreed elk yinzer, it's a little tough to triangulate in a blizzard. Nonetheless, I will carry a compass or two as long as I venture outdoors.
take a look at Gritty Bowmen podcast. Aron Snyder did one or two podcasts on land nav. I learned quite a bit. Episodes 48 (Part 1 & 2) and episode 49.
Its a good skill. I am no expert but learned the basics in a school course and books. I will say that my GPS working when cover or weather makes triangulating hard happens way more often than needing to use a compass because the GPS failed.
Go to the library, boy scout books are as good as anything,,, lots of good material on it,,,,, see if you can find a US Air Force Survival Book from the 70's,
Take your map and compass for a long walk in unfamiliar territory.
You'll learn quick
Every outdoorsman should learn how to use a compass...maps and how to orientate even in a "blizzard"....then use a GPS as the back up. Where is the skill set in pushing a few buttons.
I helped to teach land nav in both the Boy Scouts and the US Army. For a beginner obtain a good topo map of an area of ground that you are familiar with and just start by walking around and getting a feel for what the map is actually telling you. Learn to identify "landmarks" anything from a cell phone tower, to a high point of land or a split in a stream bed. We call it reading the map. If you have harsh terrain its easier to get a feel for saddles and draws, ridge lines, valleys, peaks, these make up some of the major and minor terrain features. Figure out your pace count so you have an idea of how far you've traveled.
The key of land navigation and the actual hardest thing to do is to figure out WHERE YOU ARE on the map, get that basic skill covered and its pretty easy to figure out how to get somewhere else. Start with the Boy Scout orienteering merit badge book, they can be ordered on EBAY for $5 or so. Its packed with knowledge.
Best of luck to you! James
If you can't read a topo, there is little use in a compass. So, learn to read a topo map. After that, it'll come like breathing. God Bless
Gps is convenient but knowing how to read a topo map is key. Get yourself a 25k topo of the area you are going to hunt and keep that with you along with your gps and remember to take extra batteries for your gps. When you leave your camp or truck note what elevation you are at because worse case senerio you can always find that elevation and just keep on it you will run into your truck or camp eventually. Always have a plan on how far in you are going to go and as other have stated note land features or main roads and it will be pretty hard to get lost. You may get turned around but not lost
Yeah, compasses are great for "not getting lost". That comes pretty easily with a compass/topo and a little bit of practice. Then there is Navy SEAL-precison navigation any idiot with 2 double A batteries and a thumb can master. I have some pride but not enough to cloud which tool I'm choosing for the job. It's like comparing a stickbow to a .300 mag as far as efficiency and effectiveness go.
I know this is not what the OP is looking for.. But I always have a compass as a backup, but I'll stick with my GPS as my main navigation tool. If I want to get to from point A to point B, a GPS is way easier and quicker. Ed
Ed, I use a map and topo, and a GPS nearly everyday. I've had one GPS failure in 20 years. But, to be fair to Garmin, the only reason t failed was my dumb butt taking it out of my cruising vest and putting it on the tool box in the bed. I forgot about it, drove off and heard it fall between the bed and the cab. I suddenly remembered it while "wondering what that noise was". I slammed on the brakes, got out, and waked back to where it laid smashed into the fresh gravel on the haul road. I had run over it with my truck. The unpacked gravel had absorbed the outline of the GPS when the truck ran over it. It still worked for 6 more months after that. So, I'm not real sure where all the certainties that a GPS will fail. God Bless men
I guess you guys would of never been able to hunt 30 years ago. You would of had to stay home...lol.
Wv Mountaineer, I'm on my 4th gps, (up grades) I've never had one fail. I can't tell you how many times I've dropped them and so on. But to have one work after running it over, at all is pretty good. But at like 7 or 8 oz's ea, you can carry two.. I like my old Colorado 400t because of the rocker button that works better with gloves on, but it's a little slow. My newer one Can't remember the model is the touch screen and I hate taking my glove off to work it. Ever with silver thread fingers it's just not as easy as a rocker button.. So my next one will be a rocker button.
So my question is, is it better to have one gps and a compass or two gps's and no compass ??? I know that I have from time to time I've use a compass to keep me in line so I don't have to turn my gps on as much. But that's not all that much. Ed
When you get your topo map, make sure to check the magnetic declination of what is printed on the map, to what is current. Those USGS maps of the past can be off enough to really get you off course as the poles have been shifting. Also the U.S. Army FM 3-25.26 Map Reading and Land Navigation is a good reference.
As has been said, a topo, a compass and time will teach you 99% of what you need. Paying attention to all that is around you, and making sure you turn around to get a look at where you came from is important.
first lesson I learned is it's nearly impossible to walk in a single direction through the woods if you don't first pick a landmark to walk to.
X2 Hh76, I'll just add it's a good idea to blaze trees if you're in unfamiliar territory, there's my 2cents, J
Scar Finga's Link
Best way is to join the Marine Corps...lol Actually I learned in boy scouts. The Marines just took me to the next level. That said, for hunting, I use the GPS 100% of the time, and do a lot of map study. Still have my compass though
Go on Amazon and buy this book... I have had it for 15-20 years. Buy a really good compass, not Walmart crap.
The one at the top of the page on the Amazon link you gave?
Warning, if wearing night vision goggles the compass will point at you no matter which way you turn. Failed the night navigation course because I didn't discover this until I was hopelessly lost. Terry
@SoDakSooner "Best way is to join the Marine Corps...lol Actually I learned in boy scouts. The Marines just took me to the next level. That said, for hunting, I use the GPS 100% of the time, and do a lot of map study. Still have my compass though" ..... x2
Look up Marine Corps Land Navigation MCI's .... you can find PDFs online to download. That was best thing I could've learned in the USMC in terms of playing in the woods and goofing off in the mountains. @DartonJager
40 years ago in the deep northern MN forest my dad told me this road runs north/south. Go in west and come out east using your compass. Only problem was which way to go, north or south when you hit the road in the dark LOL.
Greatest of thanks for all the replies so far. I am not a total map and compass navigation novice, but I definitely need much improvement. I have multiple books on master land/nav with M&C and I know pretty much what I need to do to become competent, I was just looking for suggestions of ways to do so I have not thought of or knew about. To give an example I never go into the woods without my Silva compass around my neck, well almost never. Two deer seasons ago I went to recover my buckI had shot at about 4pm with the aid of a cart. I had changed into different cloths to avoid sweating up and not get blood on my hunting cloths. Once I finished dressing out my buck and loading him on my cart it there was only about 10 minuets of light left, I went to take a solid bearing to the west as the old farm road that lead the way back to my truck was about 550-600 yards due west of my position. Imagine my shock when it then occurred to me I had evidently removed my compass. Now I found myself in the middle of VERY thick woods with night about to fall and because of 100% very low hanging cloud cover I could not see any lighted land marks to orientate my self to.
Thankfully I was wearing my Casio compass watch and it gave me the West bearing I needed and I found my back to the road no problem. So Yes I have some compass navigation skills, but I definitely need to improve. Will get the books recommended as they have been before by persons who also instructed our troops I have asked the same questions of. Again, thanks for all the helpful replies.
Oh BTW I have had BK's book BAEWMC for quite some time. Will go back over it again. I guess as suggested I need to get a topo of an area and along with my Silva learn by doing which is how I personally learn best. Thanks to all, Art.