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How to Use a Compass

A compass is used to provide directions for someone who may be lost in a distant terrains; it utilizes a oriental arrow and a magnetic needle found in the compass and the magnetic field of the earth to direct persons to the north, south, east or west. Compasses were mainly used on ships to provide directions while travelling over the ocean.

Things you will need

  • A compass
  • A map
  • A Pencil

Instructions

  1. Take the compass and lay it flat in your palm, in front of your chest. Then point the travel arrow of the compass towards the direction you wish to find the co-ordinates for.
  2. Move the compass in a rotating position until it lines up with the north end of the magnetic compass needle and then read and mark off the bearing on the compass edge which aligns to the direction of the travel arrow.
  3. Use the co-ordinates you have received from the compass to plot the direction onto the map. To do this you will have to rotate the compass and put it on the map and hold it horizontally until it lines up with the orienting arrow and the map’s north line. The edges should pass through the current position and maintains its position with the north line on the map.
  4. Then use a pencil to draw a line through the current position along the compass edge. This will show you the path you should take from where you’re currently situated to where you want to go on the map. When you measure the exact direction to a distant landmark, that specific direction will keep you travelling toward the landmark even when you can’t see it.
  5. If you would like to just use the compass to walk in the right direction as stated on the map, put the compass on the map while it is horizontally. Then regulate the compass so the edge passes through your current position on the map where you intend to keep travelling. Keep doing this until the north line on the map and the compass arrow are parallel with each other.
  6. Read the bearing of the compass and add the value of the magnetic variation. Hold the compass in a horizontal position so that the travel arrow points way from you. Then turn the face to the direction where the north needle lines up with the orienting arrow on the compass.
  7. Look into the direction of the travel arrow and focus on the object in the middle distance that it points to whether it’s a tree or a wall etc. This object will direct you to your intended landmark. If the area is not visible, let someone else walk into the direction until they gain visibility then you can go to that spot.
  8. When you arrive at the area plotted out by the object, make another bearing and repeat the process all over again until you reach your final destination.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Make sure you have made a distinction between the north and south pole needles and never confuse the two of them, this will lead to incorrect readings and calculations. You can test this by finding out the general north and south direction of where you are currently located, and then use the compass to align to one of the directions to see where each point is.
  • When using a compass, always trust that it is giving you the proper directions because many landscapes look the same.
  • Put the compass up to your eyes and look down the direction of travel arrow to ensure that is pointing in the direction you want to take the bearing of.
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