How To Use A Compass
Want to learn how to use a compass and have confidence in navigational skills? There are various styles of compasses but they all function based on the same basic principle of pointing towards magnetic north. A compass requires no battery or satellite signal for operation, making it a most dependable tool. If a GPS looses power or satellite signal, it can be important to know how to use a compass as a backup.
To use a compass, you will need:
Steps for using a compass:
- Place the compass on a level surface (not near any metal). This allows the directional needle to rotate freely. Holding a compass while reading direction can sometimes result in the compass being at a tilt and the directional needle not operating smoothly.
- Wait for the compass needle to settle. A compass needle points to the Northern magnetic pole when at rest. Make sure to wait for the needle to be steady, otherwise your direction will be off.
- Plan the direction of travel. Orient a map, if used, so that north on the map is aligned with north indicated by the compass. A directional indicator on the map will have a compass rose, or basically an arrow pointing towards the top of the map with an N marking north at the tip.
- Choose a landmark on the map, or a visual landmark in the direction of desired travel. It may be a particular tree, or bush. Keep that location in view as you move towards it. Upon reaching the landmark, take out the compass and map and move to the next landmark.
By knowing how to use a compass, hikers, campers and other travellers know they have a very dependable tool for finding their way.
Since the compass uses the earth's magnetic poles as directional sources, make sure you don't place the compass near a metal object when using it, since that will alter the reading on the compass.