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Before taking a GPS out into the field, it is very important to practice with it first. One of the steps in learning how to navigate with a GPS and compass, is to take the GPS around town, or maybe just around the block and find your way back home. The point of this trip is to get out of view of the target. This is more then just an exercise, its builds confidence in your skills.


Grab up your GPS and compass, get a position fix and define the starting point of this trip. The target for my trip is a local grocery store. Here are some pictures taken while walking to the store.
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Right around the corner from the store is a bus stop. This bus stop is where I stopped to get a position fix and my bearing back home. Where I stopped is about .36 miles from home. This is a good distance - anything over .25 or a 1/4 mile would be fine. Just get somewhere you can not see the target.
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Most GPS units come with a pointer - NEVER trust the pointer!! The pointer is next to junk on most of the GPS units I have used. In the picture below, the compass is pointing in the direction I need to go to get home. The GPS pointer is pointing 90 degrees the wrong way. Once the person starts walking, the pointer will start showing the right direction. In a stand still situation, do not trust the pointer.
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About half way home, I stopped and checked everything. While I was taking the pictures, the GPS pointer once again pointed to the wrong direction. This time more then 90 degrees, closer to 100 - 110 degrees. The GPS is pointing the wrong direction, the compass is pointing the right direction. In one of the GPS's menus, it will list a "bearing" - that is what is important; not the pointer on the GPS unit.
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The target to this trip is inside this neighborhood. From where this picture was taken, I am only about 150 yards from home and the compass is pointing straight at it.
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These simple exercises can build confidence in your navigation skills. It is better to learn how to use a GPS and compass on a local street, then in the woods, lost, running around in circles.

To people that you might run into on the street, they will not be able to tell the difference between your GPS and a cell phone or IPod. As far as they are concerned you are sending a text message.
 

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I noticed the same false reading w/my GPS-PDA.
When using it for driving, it corrects quickly, if you have changed directions, but walking it moves SLOW!
 

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-----For information----
They do have GPS units with an active "pointer"
they have a builtin compass feature.
Mine does not have it, so i'm in the same boat.
 
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