Southeast Wilderness Survival
Land navigation is an important aspect to traveling in unfamiliar terrain. The ability to properly read a map, and use a compass can make all the difference between coming home with tales of the adventure of a lifetime, and making headlines as the subject of the latest mission of the local rescue squad. This page is but a brief overview of the subject, but we cover all of the subject matter in our land navigation courses.
There are many types and styles of compasses available today to suit any need of the user, and the prices vary as much as the styles. There are lensatic, sighting, map, zipper pulls, pin-on balls, and button compasses just to name some of them. The lensatic and sighting compasses are the more accurate of for traveling long distances, but the smaller compasses have their place too. When choosing a compass it pays to purchase a quality instrument made by an experienced company. If you find yourself deciding based on economic price, just remember that you may well be placing not only your trust in this instrument, you may also be betting your life on it's performance. Choose wisely.
One very important thing to know about land navigation is that, depending on your location, there can be a great deal of difference between true north and magnetic north. This is where the term magnetic declinationcomes into play. Here in the heart of the south east true north and magnetic north are roughly the same at this time, and for the whole of the south east the differences between true north and magnetic north only varies by as much as 7 degrees. This is only a major problem over long distances. In other parts of the country the difference can vary by as much as 22 degrees and can become a problem over even relatively short distances.
Shooting an azimuth is another very important term used in land navigation.