How to Use a Map & Compass

Finding the direction you should travel to get from point A to point B

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How to Use a Map & Compass
14 Steps
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1
Lay your map flat on the floor or the ground and align the side of the compass with the vertical grid lines or side of the map.

Lay your map flat on the floor or the ground and align the side of the compass with the vertical grid lines or side of the map.

2
Make sure the front of the compass points toward the top of the map.

Make sure the front of the compass points toward the top of the map.

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3
Rotate the dial until 0 degrees or North is at the front of the compass. There should be an arrow or tic mark to line the dial up with.

Rotate the dial until 0 degrees or North is at the front of the compass. There should be an arrow or tic mark to line the dial up with.

4
Now, without moving the compass, you will begin to rotate your map to the left or right.

Now, without moving the compass, you will begin to rotate your map to the left or right.

5
Stop when the red part of the floating compass arrow lines up with the arrow outline drawn on the bed of the compass or when it points straight at north on the dial. Your map is now oriented to north.

Stop when the red part of the floating compass arrow lines up with the arrow outline drawn on the bed of the compass or when it points straight at north on the dial. Your map is now oriented to north.

6
Without moving the map, locate your starting point (where you are "now").

Without moving the map, locate your starting point (where you are "now").

7
Locate where you want to go. (If it is a very long distance or very circuitous, you'll have to break it into smaller sections and repeat this process.)

Locate where you want to go. (If it is a very long distance or very circuitous, you'll have to break it into smaller sections and repeat this process.)

8
Draw a straight line between the two points.

Draw a straight line between the two points.

9
Without moving the map, align the side of the compass with the line you just drew.

Without moving the map, align the side of the compass with the line you just drew.

10
Make sure the back of the compass is toward the starting point and the front is toward your destination.  Notice the floating arrow is no longer aligned with the one on the bottom of the compass.

Make sure the back of the compass is toward the starting point and the front is toward your destination. Notice the floating arrow is no longer aligned with the one on the bottom of the compass.

11
Twist the dial until the two arrows in the middle are aligned again.

Twist the dial until the two arrows in the middle are aligned again.

12
Lift the compass and look at the number lined up with the tic mark. In this picture it is 70 degrees. This is the direction you should travel from your starting point.

Lift the compass and look at the number lined up with the tic mark. In this picture it is 70 degrees. This is the direction you should travel from your starting point.

13
To travel in that direction, hold the compass flat, straight out in front of you. Turn your body until the middle arrows line up together.  Site down the compass, find a landmark and walk to it.

To travel in that direction, hold the compass flat, straight out in front of you. Turn your body until the middle arrows line up together. Site down the compass, find a landmark and walk to it.

14

This is a basic introduction. It does not cover how to account for declination. Study and practice these skills before attempting a wilderness experience.

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