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Compass Manual

# Compass Manual

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01/29/2011

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The Compass Manual
By:
Joe Gilmet

The important part of a compass is its magnetized needle, balanced on a pinpoint and free to swing
around. When left to itself, the needle always points to the magnetic North, which is the northerly direction of the
earth\u2019s magnetic force lines. This end of the needle is usually marked with the initial\u201cN \u201d, shaped like an
arrowhead, or colored so you can tell which end of the needle is pointing north. There are several types of
pocket compasses. The best of these has a liquid-filled dial which slows the swinging of the compass needle and
makes it easier to use. The compass dial is divided into 360 parts. These divisions are called degrees and each
degree represents
a bearing or direction. The degrees are measured clockwise from North, which is called 0\u00b0 or 360\u00b0 on an
Orienteering Compass. This is the compass most commonly used. The four cardinal directions,North, East,
South, and West, are at right angles to each other (i.e. N-0\u00b0 or 360\u00b0, E-90\u00b0, S-180\u00b0, and W-270\u00b0 ).

Using a Compass

Compasses can be used three ways without a map.
1. To find directions or a bearing from one point toanother.
2. To follow a bearing from one point to another.
3. To return to a point of departure after traveling on a bearing.
The modern orienteering compass gives directions and bearings quickly. To find a bearing with this type

of compass:
(A) Hold it level in your palm at about waist height in front of you, then turn and point the directional arrow where
you want to go. If the compass is not held level, the needle may show an inaccurate reading.
(B) Orient the compass by turning the compass housing until the North end of the orienting arrow is under the
North end of the compass needle.
(C) Read the bearing in degrees where the tail of the directional arrow meets the degree scale on the housing.
Some compasses have other indicators to show where you read the bearing.

To follow this or any other bearing is also a simple matter. With the needle and orienting arrow properly aligned,
pick out a landmark along the line of sight and walk to it. When you reach the landmark, orient yourself again, walk to your
next landmark and so on. It is a good idea to write the bearing down, if possible, because a twig or limb may touch your
compass housing and move it.

before, walk to it. This is called \u201cusing the reversed bearing\u201d. Thus, if you were traveling on a bearing of 60\u00b0, the reverse
bearing would be 60\u00b0 plus 180\u00b0 = 240\u00b0. A landmark should be chosen that is on the course of the hunter\u2019s ultimate
destination and one which will be visible until it is reached. On reaching the marker, the hunter chooses another landmark in
the distance and checks the bearing again with the map and compass. In a forest, a straight course can be maintained by
lining up two trees and walking directly toward them. As the first tree is reached a third tree is lined up, behind and in a
straight line with the second. This procedure is repeated each time another of the trees is reached. A common mistake when
using a compass is to look at the bearing too often. Renew your bearing only as often as the distance between good
landmarks dictates. This distance will vary with the terrain, cover and visibility, ranging from 3 to 20 meters in thick brush
orfog to 0.5 km or more in open country on a clear day. Remember too, that a compass can only give you the direction you
want to travel, but cannot tell you where you are. You should have a general idea where you are before you try to use a
compass. Therefore, before
entering the woods, always take time to check the bearing of the highway you are leaving and the direction you are
traveling. Then, if you get \u201cturned around\u201d, the reverse bearing will take you back. Because a compass is equipped with a
magnetic needle, be careful to keep it away from all iron-bearing metal and electric currents. This includes axes, knives,
guns, fishing rods, bridges, railway and fence lines, cars, rings on fingers, watches, etc. Sometimes even the zipper on a
jacket may cause the needle to change direction. Power lines will do the same. When camp has been set up beside a\u201cbase-

line\u201d such as a river, road or railway, you can easily find the way back to camp with a compass. If you are hunting north of

the base-line, you know that as long as you don\u2019t cross that base-line, all you need to do to find camp is walk south from
where you are and you will be in line with camp. Referring to a map, you should know if you are above or below the camp.
A compass is best used in combination with a map. The map will show which direction to take to get to a specific location.
The compass will keep you walking in the right direction.

Maps

A map is best defined as a reduced diagram of a portion of the earth\u2019s surface as viewed from directly above. Have a map of the area in which you plan to hunt and study it in advance. Road maps are not always drawn to scale and often lack sufficient detail to be of use for anything but a highway and road guide. The preferred map for most uses is the Topographic Series at a scale of 1:50,000. These are detailed maps showing the elevations of hills, valleys and landmarks such as roads, lakes, vegetation, swamps, and buildings. Key elements of topographical maps include:

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