Locating Your Position

How to locate your position (“Get Found”) with a Map and Compass
Training Guide

General Guidelines:

  • Take your time. Precision is FAR more important than speed.
  • Double check everything.
  • Involve the members of your team.

1. Set the declination on your compass.

  • The declination is listed on the map
  • If the declination is east, that means that the needle points to the East of true north
  • For 17 degrees of east declination, you would set the pointer on the compass base to line up with 343 degrees on the ring.

2. Align the map to true north

  • Place the map on the ground and place the compass on the map so that one (side) edge of the base plate lines up with the PRINTED line on the left or right edge of the map. IGNORE the edge of the paper!
  • Slowly rotate the map, without disturbing the compass, until “the red is in the shed”.
  • Verify that the edge of the base plate is still lined up with the printed edge of the map.
  • Repeat b. and c. as many times as you need to, but make sure that this is right on.
  • Secure the map so it will not move. (Use of Duct tape is OK.) Rocks on the corners work (as long as they are not magnetic!). A couple of other scouts can hold it down as well (IF they do NOT move!)
  • Leave 1 compass set with the declination (step 1) so that you can re-check the alignment (step 2) before and after each subsequent step, but do NOT leave it sitting on the map, as it will interact with the compass used to take the bearings in the next step and ruin your work.

3. Taking a “Sighting” and transferring the bearing to the map.

  • Visually locate and positively identify a landmark. You need to see it physically, and also locate it on the map.
  • Aim your compass at the landmark. Stand so that the map is directly between you and the landmark while doing this. Use the line and notch on mirrored compasses or sight down the edge of the base if you have a “plate” compass.
  • While keeping the compass EXACTLY lined up with the landmark, rotate the dial until the red is EXACTLY in the “shed”. The mirror type compass will let you do this yourself. For a plate compass, take your sight from one knee, so that your buddy can look down and turn the dial while you continue to sight down the edge of the base at the landmark. Take your time and make sure that everything is “just right”.
  • Without disturbing the dial (or the map), place your compass on the map so that one edge of the base plate is lined up with the landmark. Carefully draw a line down the edge of the base plate toward your position. Recheck the map alignment (step 2). Note: Declination does NOT figure into anything in step 3.
  • Repeat steps a. through d. for a second landmark. Avoid choosing a second landmark that is either very close to the first landmark, or one that is opposite (180 Degrees) from the first landmark.
  • When you are done the lines will cross, and “X marks the spot” of your location!

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