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#170642 - 10/16/12 09:28 AM Compass course - beginning to expert
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
In my opinion, a good way to learn to use a compass is to practice exercises that build in a very small way from the previous exercises. In the early exercises, there are things intentionally left out, like declination. Any references to maps will also be left out. I feel that compass learning virtually stops once one has a map. That will come in later exercises.

Keep all your notes you take along the way. Sometimes we will return to notes from a previous exercise to do another one.

Since many cannot get out into the field, a lot of the exercises are done in small scale. I've found this transfers real well to real life.

To keep this thread from getting out of control, when posting, try to keep it close to topic and not jump ahead to other scenarios.

Since everyone has different kinds of compasses, I will assume they have read the directions and know how to take a bearing.

Ideally, those who participate will actually do the exercises. This goes for experienced people, too.

Sometime along the way, I'll introduce protractors. I recommend a circular one which you can get at Walmart for about $5.00.

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#170643 - 10/16/12 09:41 AM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: Gershon]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
I'll post the exercises in bold print so they can be found easily when scrolling through the thread.

Exercise 1:

Objectives:

Learn the length of your pace.

Standard of Performance:

Using just pacing, measure 100 feet with no more than a 5 foot error.

Explanations:

Using a tape measure, measure a distance of 100 feet.

Start walking with the left foot. Everytime the right foot hits the ground, count 5, 10, 15,...100. See how far you are from 100 feet when you get to 100 and add or subtract paces as necessary for the next time. Some may need to go to 105 or 110 to get 100 feet.

There is no need to learn to pace longer distances, as there will never be a need to pace more than 100 feet at a time.
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#170652 - 10/16/12 02:30 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: Gershon]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6778
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Quote:
There is no need to learn to pace longer distances, as there will never be a need to pace more than 100 feet at a time.


Except in wilderness areas where the rules require camping 200 feet from the trail and/or from water, especially in some areas (PNW folks know where I mean) where the ranger has been known to use a tape measure!
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#170653 - 10/16/12 02:31 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: OregonMouse]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
Quote:
There is no need to learn to pace longer distances, as there will never be a need to pace more than 100 feet at a time.


Except in wilderness areas where the rules require camping 200 feet from the trail and/or from water, especially in some areas (PNW folks know where I mean) where the ranger has been known to use a tape measure!


OM, later we will address longer distances.
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#170655 - 10/16/12 03:02 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: OregonMouse]
Barefoot Friar Offline
member

Registered: 01/23/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Houston, Alabama
The way I count more than one hundred of anything -- money, widgets, or steps -- is to count one hundred several times. So one way might be to step off one hundred feet, and then do it again. I generally use fingers to help me keep up with sets of a hundred. So I count to one hundred and raise one finger, count a hundred again and raise a second finger, and so forth.

I could tie a knot in a cord, or make tick marks on a paper, or cut notches in a stick. Or just remember it.

I don't know where Gershon's going with it, but my little mind would automatically do it that way. YMMV
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#170656 - 10/16/12 03:10 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: Barefoot Friar]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Barefoot Briar,

This is leading to something later, so there will never be a need to count more than 100 feet at a time.

For long distances, people use rocks or pennies or something. I use Ranger beads if I go that route. But that will be covered a lot later.

Thanks for the participation.
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#170658 - 10/16/12 03:34 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: Gershon]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
OK, I'm in! For counting paces, you could also use a pedometer. I used to just know my pace length and count. But with age and lack of practice, I'll have to go through this exercise again to bring my accuracy up. I think the key to pace is consistency, which you get by walking in a relaxed and easily reproducible manner. Don't over think it; just walk.

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#170659 - 10/16/12 03:40 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: skcreidc]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By skcreidc
OK, I'm in! For counting paces, you could also use a pedometer. I used to just know my pace length and count. But with age and lack of practice, I'll have to go through this exercise again to bring my accuracy up. I think the key to pace is consistency, which you get by walking in a relaxed and easily reproducible manner. Don't over think it; just walk.


By regulation in the military a pace (each time the right foot hits the ground) is 5 feet.

It will help to have about 10 cheap pens or popsicle sticks. We will be using those in a little bit.
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#170660 - 10/16/12 03:51 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: Gershon]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
[b]Exercise 2: Drawing Octagon

Objectives:

Practice taking a bearing
Practice following the bearing for 100 feet and marking a point

Standard of Performance:
Octagon should somewhat resemble an octagon.
There are no stated tolerances on the bearings and distances for the second half of the exercise.

Explanation: This can be done in a parking lot or any open area. The area will have to be 100 feet in each direction.

Start at the center, and take a bearing of 360 (0 or 00 or N on the compass.

Follow this bearing for 100 feet and place a rock or something there.

Repeat for 045, 090, 135, 180, 225, 270, 315 starting at the center each time.

(Note: Bearings less than 100 are always written with a leading 0 to avoid confusing 020 with 200, etc.

Start at the rock north of the center and go clockwise.

Take a bearing to each rock in the octagon and pace the distance to that rock. Record the bearings and distances for each leg.

Someone will actually have to do this one and post the bearings and distances before we go on to the next one.
[/b]


Edited by Gershon (10/16/12 04:15 PM)
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#170663 - 10/16/12 04:31 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: Gershon]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6778
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
For me, 100 feet is 44 paces, measured while wearing pack (short legged person here). So for 200 feet I just count 88 and (in that particular ranger's territory) add a few more to be extra sure.
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#170666 - 10/16/12 05:17 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: Gershon]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Quote:
By regulation in the military a pace (each time the right foot hits the ground) is 5 feet.


Yikes! Well, I guess that explains all that close order drilling they do. Being 6'5" at the time my original "natural" pace was 6 foot even.

Gershon.

Currently, my most easily reproducible pace gives me 17 paces to go 100 feet. Going out and putting rags on each of the 9 points (including center), I marked out an octagon shape as per your instructions. Given that I am ground level, I had a hard time QC'ing the thing, so I used length of the eight sides to check it. A little trigonometry and I get 76.5 feet per side, which ends up being 13 of my paces. I ended up somewhere between 12 and 14.5 paces when I marched it off. Not sure how to present it here without drawing it up and scanning, so I will have to present it later.


Edited by skcreidc (10/16/12 07:56 PM)
Edit Reason: did second exercise

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#170669 - 10/16/12 08:31 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: skcreidc]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By skcreidc
Quote:
By regulation in the military a pace (each time the right foot hits the ground) is 5 feet.


Yikes! Well, I guess that explains all that close order drilling they do. Being 6'5" at the time my original "natural" pace was 6 foot even.

Gershon.

Currently, my most easily reproducible pace gives me 17 paces to go 100 feet. Going out and putting rags on each of the 9 points (including center), I marked out an octagon shape as per your instructions. Given that I am ground level, I had a hard time QC'ing the thing, so I used length of the eight sides to check it. A little trigonometry and I get 76.5 feet per side, which ends up being 13 of my paces. I ended up somewhere between 12 and 14.5 paces when I marched it off. Not sure how to present it here without drawing it up and scanning, so I will have to present it later.


Thanks. Did you take a bearing and distance from rag to rag around the octagon?
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#170676 - 10/17/12 08:09 AM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: OregonMouse]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Exercise 3a: Direct Route Back to Start

Objective: After pacing 10 one hundred foot vectors in various directions calculate direct bearing and distance to start.

Standards of Performance:
Calculated bearing will be within 10 degrees of actual bearing – show work.
Calculated distance will have an error of no more than 50 feet – show work.
To show work on the forum, just post the bearings and the vectors and state your results.

Explanation:
In an open area pace 10 one hundred foot vectors in a route similar to the one below. Start from a tall object such as a tree.

Write down all bearings and distances as you pace them. Each distance should be 100 feet long.

When done, take a bearing from the end to the beginning. Write down the bearing.

Pace from the end to the beginning and record the distance.

GPS note: If you have a GPS mark the start as a waypoint. At the end, record the distance and bearing to that waypoint.
The rest of the work can be done later at home and will be in the next post.



Edited by Gershon (10/17/12 08:44 AM)
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#170678 - 10/17/12 09:39 AM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: Gershon]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Exercise 3b: Scale Mapping

The next step is to make a scale map of the vectors you paced. The first time do it in a flat area such as a driveway. The larger the scale, the more accurate it will be.

Traditionally, people would draw a map on paper, but that is really much more difficult in the field.

This is an introductory learning process to the final method which won’t use a scale map, so any objections will later become irrelevant.

Find a straight stick at least a foot long. A ruler does fine for practice. Whatever the length, that length will be defined as 100 feet.

Mark the starting point on the ground with a pebble.

With a lensatic compass, just lay the compass on the ground and turn it so the first bearing is under the index line. Lay the stick down next to the compass. Put one end on the pebble marking the start and put a pebble on the other end. If you want to be fancy, draw a line with chalk or some soft rock.

(It would help if someone would post the method for a baseplate compass.)

Continue for all 10 vectors.

At the end, take a bearing from the end to the start and use the stick to measure the distance.

You should find they are very close to the bearing and distance you had in the full scale model.

To complete the exercise, everything will have to be done a second time with the scale map being done in the field. The second time, start from a small object you can’t see from the end. Leave a quarter in the grass or something.

Do the scale map after pacing the zigzag course. Then using your calculated bearing back to the start, go directly back to the start and see how close your calculations are.

If you are into making videos, make a video of the second attempt so we can all see it. The process of making the video will improve your learning.


Edited by Gershon (10/17/12 10:10 AM)
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#170680 - 10/17/12 03:42 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: Gershon]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Quote:
Thanks. Did you take a bearing and distance from rag to rag around the octagon?


Yes, I did. I'd have to say I am not used to shooting bearings with that little Silva. I am going to redo the thing using the Brunton for comparison. It'll take a few days to get back here and work on more of these as I have orders to fill. Hopefully some others start chiming in soon.

Chris


Edited by skcreidc (10/17/12 03:43 PM)

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#170687 - 10/17/12 08:51 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: Gershon]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Today I went out and did exercise 3. It does take a long time to do it this way. Making the scale map on the ground takes awhile. This part will disappear with the next technique.

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http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#170715 - 10/18/12 10:18 PM Re: Compass course - beginning to expert [Re: Gershon]
Steadman Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 514
Loc: Virginia
That explains why OCS chopped my pace from 6 to 5 feet...I noticed after the fact.

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