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Basic Compass Skills

Using a compass is a skill that everyone should know if they’re headed out on the trail, and the basics are not that complicated. All you need is a map and a compass that has a straight edge. No calculator or “natural sense of direction” required. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Mark your location and destination on the map with dots.
  • Draw a line between the two.
  • Place your compass’s edge along the line. Make sure the directional arrow is pointing in the direction of your destination.
  • Rotate the compass housing so the orienting arrow aligns with north.
  • As long as the needle is within the orienting arrow, your destination is in the direction of the directional arrow.