Any recommendations for learning compass use? - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 06-15-2007, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
 
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Default Any recommendations for learning compass use?

Can anyone suggest a good way to learn how to use a compass properly and get the most out of it? (GPS cannot lock onto satelites where I'm working). Are there any good books or something?

The background:
A little while, when on one of my research trips, I went treking out into a forest area to collect specimens. The forestry guys tried giving me the basics prior to heading out... "if heading west away from the logging road, then head east back towards it"... simple, right? Hehe, didn't quite work out as easily as I thought it would, and after an hour of being pre-occupied with collecting samples all over the place, it was time to head back... funny, the compass direction didn't quite line up with the way I though I should be going, but one can get pretty dissoriented after being absent minded looking for samples and who was I to doubt the compass? 2 hours later, I suddenly realize, I'm totally lost and nothing is even looking like original ecosystem I was supposed to get back to. I eventually came across a research plot by coincidence, and was able to use their trail marking to get myself out of the forest.

I considered myself extremely fortunate and learnt my lesson that day. Now, before taking off for my next field season, I'd really like to get all the proper compass know-how... any recommendations?
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 06-15-2007, 04:11 PM
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Since you're in Vancouver, I would suggest that you contact the Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club (GVOC) at
http://www.orienteeringbc.ca/gvoc/

They have training sessions for beginners as well as beginners and expert meets and course sessions... I did one of theirs a couple months back...

And then, you could go here for more info...

or simply remember, "the compass doesn't lie"...

C'Jack...
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 06-15-2007, 04:37 PM
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I've used this book: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/...ch+Top+Sellers

I believe it is also available at MEC. I found it quite helpful as it teaches map and compass from a wilderness navigation standpoint. Taking a course is also is a big help.

Before I started doing any off-trail stuff I practiced. Basically, get a topo map for an area where you know you can't get too lost - for example a local wooded park like Pacific Spirit, Burnaby's Central park, etc. You want to go somewhere where you will stumble out onto a road, etc. if you get lost. Then practice navigating by compass from one point on your map to another, or wandering around, then taking a bearing to use to walk out.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 06-15-2007, 05:32 PM
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 06-15-2007, 05:34 PM
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These are good books too (even the older one)...

...

...

C'Jack...
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 06-15-2007, 06:34 PM
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Here is a link that may help you out. Easy to follow I think.
http://www.learn-orienteering.org/old/
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 06-15-2007, 06:53 PM
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Good one db...

I didn't see that one before...

Thanks...

C'Jack...
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 06-16-2007, 03:10 PM
 
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I learned in scouts by going to a park with a map and compass. If you practice in a park (or any area with definable boundaries), you won't get lost if you screw up.

"The only two things in life that will never lie to you are your Mother, and your compass..."

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 06-17-2007, 08:15 AM
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MEC has a few good books about the subject.

Jion a SAR team and they will train you on basic M/C.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 06-17-2007, 08:23 AM
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Don't believe anyone when you're out in the woods and they say those famous words "The compass must be wrong."
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 06-17-2007, 09:10 AM
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Get the map coordinates for a given area such as a park and take your bearings as you travel in the park on an established trail. This allows you a sense of direction given by the compass and MOST important is to constantly look at where you have been as you go to where you want to be.If your compass breaks or is orphaned in the wilderness at least you have a chance of getting home.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 06-17-2007, 09:16 PM
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Great thread for compass resource.

I have taken a survival course and compass reading was for two hours but I never put it into practice.

I have avoided buying a GPS because of price and I'm not a techie.

Is there any advantage in using a compass versus a GPS, besides not having a satellite nearby?


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post #13 of (permalink) Old 06-17-2007, 09:48 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by carmen


Is there any advantage in using a compass versus a GPS, besides not having a satellite nearby?


I've tried using some of the newer better models out where I do my research, but the problem I've run into is that under certain terain, geography, and vegetation cover, they can't lock onto the satelites... in such an area, many of the forester's use a GPS system that's the size and form of a heavy backpack in order to get a signal (used mainly for developing logging roads and mapping location of ecosystems). Size, battery life, and signal are some biggies... but some of the models have such simplified programs in them, that under the right conditions, you can simply trace back the way you came and or just use the little arrow on the screne to point you in the direction of get to where you want go.
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 06-17-2007, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
quote:I've tried using some of the newer better models out where I do my research, but the problem I've run into is that under certain terain, geography, and vegetation cover, they can't lock onto the satelites... in such an area, many of the forester's use a GPS system that's the size and form of a heavy backpack in order to get a signal (used mainly for developing logging roads and mapping location of ecosystems). Size, battery life, and signal are some biggies... but some of the models have such simplified programs in them, that under the right conditions, you can simply trace back the way you came and or just use the little arrow on the screne to point you in the direction of get to where you want go.
I had a summer job about 5 years ago where I hiked around the woods with a gps unit for making maps. The unit itself was actually pretty small. The antenna was a bit bulky, but pretty lightweight - it just stuck out of my backpack. The only time I ever couldn't get a signal was during a heavy hail/thunder storm in a dense forest.

Anyway, I actually used a compass an awful lot during that job because our GPS units didn't display the maps they were creating. I suggest going somewhere where you won't truly get lost, and that you have a map for. Practice sighting accurately with a compass and practice getting bearings from a map. Know the declination angle for the area you're in. Practice estimating how far you've walked based on the length of your strides. Then practice going from one landmark to another, through the forest, using the aforementioned techniques. Those are the basics.

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post #15 of (permalink) Old 07-19-2007, 09:47 PM
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I know the Backpacker's Field Manual has a pretty comprehenive section on compass navigation. You should really check that one out.
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