Interstate Hiking Club

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The compass Three Step by Howard Gillis

Step #1

Take your compass and lay the right or left (long) side on your known position or desired direction of travel with the direction of travel indicator pointing towards your destination. Remember to place the rear side edge on your known present location. Ignore the magnetic needle and where it moves. Pretend it isn't there.

Step #2

Turn the capsule so that the lines in the bottom of the capsule are parallel to the magnetic north lines drawn on the map. Important: make sure the red capsule arrow points towards the North (top) of the map. Ignore the magnetic neddle and where it moves. Pretend it isn't there.

In Summary:

On the map you always work with the lines of the capsule. (Step #1 & #2)

Step #3

Take the compass off the map. Holding the compass with both hands at waist level. Now pay attention to the magnetic needle. Without turning the capsule, "box the needle" by turning your body so the red end of the magnetic needle is directly over the red end section of the capsule lines. Your direction of travel is indicated by the arrow on the BASE PLATE. The actual bearing in degrees is indicated where both lines meet.

In Summary:

In the field you always work with the compass needle. (Step #3)

Orienting The Map

For orienteering it is not always necessary to orient your map to your present location. And you do not have to orient the map to take a bearing to a destination. However, some people may find it easier to orient the map to get a better understanding of where they are in relation to where they have to go. Orienting the map is especially helpfull when trying to identify prominent features from a viewpoint.

To orient the map: Place the compass baseplate anywhere on the map. While holding the compass on the map with your thumb and forefinger turn your body so that the red end of the magnetic needle is parallel to a magnetic line on the map. Make sure that you have the needle pointing to magnetic North on the map (the top margin of the map). If you're looking South and you want to orient the map to your view then the map will be upside down.