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Discussion Starter #1
Navigation is always neglected and I'm hoping the newbies to our world can pick up on some tips from the veterans of survival. Grids, reading compasses, shooting an azimuth, maps, topology, magnetic north, etc, etc.

I tried this in another (unmentionable) forum and it was monopolized by a know-it-all pasting pages of text book paragraphs rather than tips. You know , plain english tips.
 

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anybody want to explain how to find north using an old fashioned watch (analog, not digital!) hows that for a starter question?
 

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Prior to the GPS, Loran and Tacan people needed to learn how to use and identify their location on a map by land formations. I once saw an Lt. trying to shoot a compass Azimith while standing on the turret of a tank. He was bitching his compass was wandering and needed a different one.

1. Large metal objects can affect the compass needle, causing it to wander. LOL !!!

2. Azimith is the direction which you are trying to go.

3. There is a diffence between true north a magnetic north, usually 7 degrees plus or minus 1/2 degree depending on the location here in the U.S.
Maps show true north so this correction factor must be used on a long trip you could end up 1/2 a time zone off from your destination.

5. Time zones are 15 degrees

6. To shoot a back Azimith to get back to where you came from, Less than 180 degrees add 180 degree. more than 180 subtract 180. I.E the phase "We did a 180 and beat feet out of there"

But the only way to learn is to do. Buy a good compass start in an open field of some size and shoot an Azimith. Then try an walk following just the compass needle. IT is much harder than it sounds and tougher to explain in words. I would get a boyscout book or military book on Land navigation.
 

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Based that you know your AO, and have an idea where you want to go.

Using a compass to go in a general direction maybe simplified by marking a landmark in the direction you want to go, and move to it, then find another along the same path.

You always set you compass down, and stand away from it. Even the stuff your carrying can effect it.

Finding north, via the sun. It comes up in the east, and goes down in the west. Find the sun, find where it is going, and face to the right. Thats north.

I carry two items for land nav. A miltary compass & a manual range finder.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Having a good compass is important but knowing that many have the ones on the back of "survival knives", the button compasses in kits, etc, etc. I would have to say let's work with what you may have. What I learned in the Marine Corps is to use what you have, the best way you can.

Following the steps above to see if anything you have on your person is making the compass react to see if it is "quasi" accurate and that you tried a second method, such as "sun rising in the east, setting in the west", or using your watch, pick up your compass and look in the direction you want to go. Place whatever compass you have on the top of your hand using your thumb and hand to make a "platform" to hold it steady. Point to the direction you need to go and look for some landmark, or taller tree or mountain, anything that you can use to guide you. By finding that landmark, you won't have to look at the compass until you reach it and use it to keep you on track. YOu might be tempted to pick a landmark far away, again, by checking you map you may find a valley or very low part in your trip and you might not be able to see it. Pick closer objects and keep finding new ones to guide you.

There are many ways and formula's to find magnetic north vs. true north but the easiest way in this computer age is to go to a site and get your reading for your area. They make it easy by using a zip code. YOu can print a topographic map of the area also if you don't have one.

I recommend this to everyone who plans on going anywhere, even if you know the area. LONG BEFORE you start out, examine the terrain, the area, where you are going, what is around you. Think of this as your job and you need to do your job right. T^he same way you take a road trip and look at the map, or use google maps for direction, use the same method of approaching you being in the woods. Many of the old timers know this and it's second nature. I know some from the service and I'm still learning but there are many "city slickers" and I don't use that in a negative way, but not ever having been exposed you might not know what you have to know.

It may sound silly to some, but look at it as a business. What is the proper procedure, what are the policies. If you have to, think of it as a Project and map out your steps to move it along. Approach it like a business plan. The stakes are high because it's your well being you are getting paid back rather than money.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
People have heard of "ranger beads" but will probably never use them for what they were intended. YOu can find tons of material on how them but they have a secondary use. When heading towards that "landmark" bet on coming across something you can't go through or over and you have to go around it. If you don't have ranger beads, use pebbles and transfer them from one pocket to the other.

Simply put I use them when going around objects. I have gone over a half a mile around at times. There may be a time when you can't pick up you trail where ever you come out and have to get back to your original course. If you travel, lets say 1500 paces to the right to get around an object you want to travel 1500 left after you get around the object to get back to your original path and trek. The beads or pebbles will help you do this. The original use of the beads notwithstanding, I use "one bead per 100 paces".
 

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When sighting an azimuth your compass needle should be aligned with the North point of the compass, the bearing with the direction of travel arrow.
To sight a back azimuth, align the compass needle with the South point: 180 degrees automatically, no math.
Check out local sporting goods stores, especially REI, Cabela's, Gander Mountain, etc. as they often have free seminars on map and compass use.
To go around an obstacle, turn 90 degrees to one side or the other, count your paces until you are past the obstacle, turn back 90 degrees and proceed to pass the obstacle, then turn 90 degrees to the other side and go the same number of paces to get back on your original course.
A pace is not a step, it's actually two steps. If you start off on your left foot, then count one pace each time your right foot hits the ground. Measure out 100 feet, or 100 meters if you use metrics, and count your paces as you walk at a normal stride over that distance a few times, giving an average number of paces for the distance, and figure out the length of your pace. Remember it will be shorter going up hill, longer going downhill. Useful to measure distances in the field.
To practice using a compass to follow a course, and count your paces, start at a convenient place in your yard or a park. Pick a direction, or azimuth, and go that direction for a certain number of paces. Then add 120 degrees, and go the same number of paces. Then add 120 degrees and go the same number of paces. You should end up exactly where you started.
 

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Over the years I have noticed a lot of people using a GPS with a built in map, instead of a real TOPO map. In my opinion, there is no replacement for a real map - the batteries never go dead, and you dont have to worry about a satellite signal.

As for the ranger beads - I have never used them. When people ask me, how do you know how far you have walked, I try to keep track of my time. I know that I walk at a certain pace with a backpack. On average, its 1 - 1.25 miles per hour.

I like to carry 2 compasses - just in case one breaks.

I try not to wear the compass on the same hand as my watch. Believe it or not, the metal of the watch can pull the compass off.

Sorry for the poor video quality, my nephew was having problems with the camera. This year I'am planning some videos on navigation.

If anyone has suggestions on how to improve the video, please let me know. Since I made this video, I have learned how to improve the quality. Hopefully the content will be better this year as well.

 

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Geronimo!
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My wife and son used to complain because I would not purchase a GPS ... now they say the only time they want one is when we are traveling in a car. Other than that, they common sense approach to not relying on GPS makes total sense to them.

I agree about watch band compasses .... they are pretty much worthless. I do like my Ranger beads though - old habits are hard to break and they have become second nature to me.

I always carry at least two compasses, sometimes three. I either carry a G.I. (Cammenga) tritium Lensatic or an old M2 FDC gunner's (mil scale standard) compass along with a 8040 Brunton and then a Brunton button compass. I've been worried about losing the M2 the older I get so it has been staying home lately since a close call.
 

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Land of the free my....
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I was looking at compasses tonight and then cam across this thread. My question is related to compass quality. One of LD 50/50' s links was to a company that sells a gov't issued compass for approx. 85.00. Most of the compasses I found at Academy tonight ranged from 1.99 - 19.99.

Quite a bit of difference in price, and is it worth it? Do the cheap ones not track to the North as well, cheap internals?

I am not opposed to buying expensive equipment, but if I don't want to be wasteful. Is a compass something you can go with a little lower quality (not the 1.99) and put the saved money towards something else?

Thanks,
Craig
 

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Geronimo!
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Craig .... 50/50 must have referred you to a Cammenga Lensatic with tritium possibly? That price looks right. Anyways, they are the finest compasses made for the money imho, unless you want to step up to a Brunton M2 6050 which will run you about $350.00 or so. The ComPro is a little less - $225.00 or so.


 
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Hey Gallo,
I see I left the name of the compass out. It is a Cammenga Lensatic with tritium compass. Doing a little looking around I found them on Ebay for 40.00 - 60.00. I also thought about looking at a big Army / Navy store about an hour and a half away.

Craig
 

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True military lensatic compasses are accurate and durable. Some knock offs are not.

But what you really should get is what is called an orienteering compass. They are arguably better than lensatic ones. Silva and Brunton makes good quality reasonably priced ones.
 

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Geronimo!
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Hey Gallo,
I see I left the name of the compass out. It is a Cammenga Lensatic with tritium compass. Doing a little looking around I found them on Ebay for 40.00 - 60.00. I also thought about looking at a big Army / Navy store about an hour and a half away.

Craig
Yep ... I thought so Craig.

One thing you always have to look out for when buying them on eBay, and I've actually had a personal experience with this, is that there have been a lot of counterfeit models put up on eBay over the years that look like the real thing but function like a monkey's butt.

I actually had two I brought with me out of the service a couple of decades ago ... ended up giving them to boyfriends of my daughters. I could kick myself in the arse for that. So anyway, I ended up buying a new Cammenga in the mid nineties and I still have it and use it regularly. Around 2003 I decided I needed two of everything in my preps - so I bought another one off of eBay ... but it wasn't a real Cammenga and it sure wasn't worth the $50.00 I paid for it. Good thing was that when I explained to the seller I bought it from that it was a fake - she took it back and refunded my money.

I know it has happened to other people too because I remember a thread over at 24hourCampfire last year where a bunch of members had been gipped with some counterfeit Cammengas and the seller disappeared shortly afterwards.

A compass is an important tool. They are cherished and used daily by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world ... we're spoiled here in the U.S. It may be just me, but I learned my lesson. I'll no sooner buy another compass on eBay than I would a fake Rolex. I'll always spend the extra few dollars and buy a brand new compass from straight from Cammenga or either a reputable store like TheCompassStore.com or a local outdoor fitter.

Remember too that tritium only has a lifespan of twenty years or less. If you pay $54.00 for a used Cammenga Lensatic w/ tritium that is cast off milsurp ... you might as well buy a brand spanking new Model 27 without tritium for less money.

New, with tritium, will always double to price but if you ever have to navigate at night, you'll know why it is so important.

TanStaf1 above mentioned an orienting compass ... it's debatable whether or not they are superior to milspec lensatics in my mind, but if you should decide to go that way, the Brunton Jet will run you over $100.00.
 
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