How To Use A Compass
How To Use A Compass
Have you ever wondered how a compass works? Dale from the British Bush Craft School shows us the basics on how to use a compass as well as how to orientate in conjunction with maps.
This is a compass, a fairly cheap and cheerful compass, costs about 8 pounds made by a company called Silver. It's very important to have one of these when you're out in the wilderness because it helps you stay on path and stops you getting lost. It consists of one main part which is this needle here which is a floating needle and that will always point toward magnetic north.
Underneath that is a rotating bezel and underneath that is a base plate. If you want to find north, all you have to do is look at where that needle is pointing. And that's the most basic skill with this and that will always point to north.
From then on, you need to use a map together with a compass so you can work out where to walk and what route to walk on. I'm going to walk you through one of the basic skills called orienting the map to north. If we imagine we're on this peak here called High Raise, you can see on the map you've got a line traveling up and down and across like this.
These lines are going down North South, the lines going across are East and West. You take your compass, you want to turn your bezel which is this bit here so that the arrow there is in line with the arrow there, place the edge of the compass alongside one of these blue lines that goes up and down so this is pointing to the North here. You know that this is the North at the top of the map because everything is all written so that you can read it's not upside down.
So, when the writing is right side up, you know that's North. Then once you've got the side of the compass lined up with this North South line, you then want to turn the map. Then, as you can see, this floating needle here is staying fixed in North position.
If we turn it round, there we go, now, this map is oriented to North. The North needle is over this base plate and the rotating bezel which is in line with the North South lines here. Then once you got your map oriented, if it's nice clear weather, you should be able to pick out the peaks around you and identify the features.
If not, you may need to walk on a bearing. So for example, if we were on high raise and we needed to walk down this ridge here, what you'd do is you'd put the base plate on the map with the straight side in the direction in which you're going to walk, like so. You'd then turn this rotating bezel until these lines on the bottom of the rotating part line up with these blue lines that run North and South on here.
You have to look quite closely for that and you may need to move your compass around just a little bit to make sure it's line up with North. Once you've got everything lined up, you can then take your compass off and this arrow here will point your direction of travel so if you walk along the line of that arrow, you'll be able to reach your destination. So that's one of the main situations when you need a compass.
That's where you start from; it's the most basic compass skill. Always worth carrying one of these even if it's a bright summer's day; the weather can always turn pretty nasty pretty quickly. So, always be safe, have one with you. .