I am very thankful that I will work with the Georgia Bushcraft crew again for some in-person training. In the last class we covered Nature Immersion, which included tree identification, animal tracking, and many more skillsets related directly to bushcrafting. This go-around, I will be leading a course on Land Navigation. In this blog I'll offer you some nice educational tidbits about Land Nav misconceptions and myths. I will also offer multiple reasons you should come do some land nav training with us in March.
Here are ten reasons why Land Navigation training is a must.
1.) There are three arrows on a typical baseplate compass. The north-seeking arrow, the direction of the travel arrow, and the meridian arrow. The meridian arrow helps you orient your compass on a map. The others are self-explanatory. Most of us already own a compass, and I can help you ensure it is good. Unfortunately, did you know that many compass manufacturers have moved operations to countries with poor quality standards? Come to class, and I can share with you which ones. Plus, I can show the simple thing most people miss when they order a compass from Amazon, which gives them a compass that could easily be wildly inaccurate when it is brand new.
2.) Most of us learned latitude and longitude in grade school. That is known as a grid system. There are thousands of grid systems in use. Suppose you ever need to communicate with others about anything related to coordinates. In that case, you will want to have the same grid system reference. The most common grid system in regular use is the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS). However, very few regular folks like you and me use it. We will cover the best grid system and how to know why it is the best.
3.) The common practice called the “shadow stick” method is terribly inaccurate due to the earth’s tilt. At different times of the year, that East-West line you get from a shadow stick can be as much as 22 degrees off. Come to class, and I will show you how to determine that inaccuracy. I will also share an alternate method to show you how to use the shadow stick and be 100% accurate in finding cardinal directions every day of the year.
4.) Look at the bottom of any map in your possession (or your GPS standalone or app); it will list a Datum set. If it does not list one, your coordinates could be considerably off from others with the exact coordinates. That is because the datum sets are over 50 years different in their origin date. If this is the first time you have heard of a Datum set, you should come to class.
5.) Declination is the deviation of the compass from true north. For example, right now declination for where Georgia Bushcraft is located is slightly over 11 degrees. That means if you don’t set your compass correctly as you navigate with it, you could be 337 yards (308 meters) off from a destination one mile away when you arrive. Come to class, and I will negate the difficulty of understanding declination and get you where you want to be.
6.) Do you wear a ring, watch, necklace, neck knife, or carry a smartphone? If so, you could easily pull your compass reading off by several degrees without realizing it. Unfortunately, holding a compass is not as simple as it seems.
7.) Did you know that trees, puddles, clouds, piles of leaves around trees, and even monarch butterfly eggs can tell you direction? Did you know that moss does not only grow on the north side of trees?
8.) Yes, I know you know the North star is above the North pole. You probably also know that about 3.5 fist-widths on a straight line from the outer line create the cup of the Big Dipper. Let’s hope for a cloudless sky during class. I will show you how to use any star in the sky to find direction. Yes, any star.
9.) You will love this one. You can use Caltopo.com to get free topographic maps of anywhere in the world. Yes, free. All you need is paper and ink in your printer. We will cover how to read the treasure trove of information included on these maps.
10.) A lot of survivalists have a signal mirror in their kit to signal aircraft when lost. Unfortunately, aircraft are only used in about 20% of all searches in the United States. In class, I will share with you methods to not only navigate with a map, compass, and GPS but also how to lose proof yourself so you don’t get lost and need a search and rescue team.
I don’t apologize for looking forward to helping people be more proficient in land navigation skills. I also don’t apologize for myth-busting numerous misconceptions that can easily get you lost or give you a false sense of security. I absolutely love helping people be more self-reliant. Come to class, and you WILL walk away with more map, compass, and GPS skills. I promise you that. No matter what your prior level of training is.