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Map Reading/Compass Use/Topography

This is a discussion on Map Reading/Compass Use/Topography within the Survival forums, part of the Armory category; I started land navigation on a limited basis in the Boy Scouts. The best lessons were when I was a Cav Scout Platoon Leader running ...

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Old February 6th, 2012, 05:30 PM   #16
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I started land navigation on a limited basis in the Boy Scouts. The best lessons were when I was a Cav Scout Platoon Leader running aroung as a young recon guy. Cav guys must be pros at map reading or they shouldn't be in the profession. With anything, this takes practice and even more practice. A couple of ideas is probably atteding a land navigation or orienteering program somewhere.

This applied knowledge saved my bacon in Vietnam. An interesting start is to acquire a local topo map like with a state park or forest. Topo maps are generally available of almost the entire planet.

As everyone stated, getting a map case where a map can stay dry is always a necessity. Some folks tried lamination but it tends to harden up and not work well. Don't forget black and red grease pencils to mark map routes. There are numerous sources for these just about everywhere. Maps and water don't mix. The military canvas map case is handy and works well. is a site in Connecticut.
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Old April 20th, 2012, 08:25 PM   #17
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As to the original question, a good place to look would be a Boy Scout Orienteering Merit Badge counselor. You can google local merit badge counselors anywhere. I used to teach this along with Pioneering and Wilderness Survival. Or find an NCO in a near by National Guard unit that admits to understanding map reading, (I wouldn't assume all NCOs know their land nav).

I'd also read this thread again afterwards, some things might make more sense. Especially the huge amount of information ricksva posted!

Good luck in your endeavors.
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Old April 21st, 2012, 06:26 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by RightCoastBiased View Post
Thanks for the responses. I was looking to find an actual class, reading things online is not my preferred method for learning. I did, however, find out that the Sig Academy has a land navigation course. I may look into this, as well as a bunch of the other classes they have.
If you go to your local library, they probably have a book on the subject. Barnes and Nobles does. Orienteering, was like a 2 day class in the military. It's not hard, all you need is some kind of map, preferrably a good one, a compass and a watch. Nobody should be in the wilderness, where they might be in danger of getting hurt or lost, without a compass. But there's more.

SHTF, or not, relying ONLY on a GPS only, even in the best of times, can get you dead. Many things can affect a GPS, not only zombies knocking out our satellites. Really the whole GPS unit can take a crap on you.

Number one Rule: Military or Civilian. Before you enter into a situation, even just straying a few hundred yards out (yes people die less than a hundred yards from their cars, a house, or road or all) Make absolutely certain that you let at least one if not more people know where you're heading and how long you plan to be there. That way they can get a closer fix on where to find you, if you don't turn up.

Know how to survive in that kind of environment. (In the military, our particular unit was primarily geared for desert).. Many people don't know how easy it really is to survive in the desert for days, or weeks without assistance. What they do know is how to kill themselves in the desert, whether they realize it or not. Same for other environments.

My point, learn survival techniques first. Then learn the compass, very easy, a sixth grader can do it. Lastly a GPS, then, STILL make sure that people know that you're heading out into the wilderness and when they should expect you back.

Lastly, you don't need to spend $40 bucks on a good book that's 500 pages. A complete manual for compass orienteering shouldn't involve more than twenty five or thirty five pages.

And DON'T cheap on on your compass. That's why some at your sporting goods store cost 15 bucks and some cost $50 and up. Buy the best you can afford. There are big differences. You'll need proper maps, but I'm sure you know that. With all of that, use your GPS as a back-up, not as your primary.

'nuff said.

Have really is fun once you get the hang of it...

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Old December 27th, 2012, 07:57 AM   #19
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One quick & dirty help is that you can use your watch for a rough compass if need be. It is not NOT an acceptable replacement for a good compass, but in an emergency situation...

Point the hour hand at the sun, and halfway between the hour hand and the 12-oclock marker is south; give or take a few degrees, allowing for daylight-saving time, etc. That's all there is to it; assuming you're in the northern hemisphere.
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