How to Use a Silva Landmark Compass

How to Use a Silva Landmark Compass
There is no more essential item for a wilderness expedition than a compass. Compasses help orient the traveler. Without one it is easy to walk in circles, change direction without knowing it and, ultimately, get lost. Knowing how to use your compass will get you where you want to be. The Silva Landmark Compass is a good orienteering compass---it has all the essentials for expedient navigation: bezel with degrees, sighting line, mirror (for signaling if necessary), and appropriate rulers for determining distance and scale.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Silva Landmark Compass
  • Silva Landmark Compass
Step 1
Keep the needle pointing North, and orient the bezel such that the needle is aligned with the North arrow on the interior of the bezel. This will ensure that you are oriented correctly.
Step 2
Read your bearing from the direction arrow or sighting line. As you change direction, you will swivel the bezel so as to keep "red in the shed." The direction you face should be along the sighting line. Read the degrees from the bezel, where the sighting line and the bezel overlap. North is 0º (or 360º), East is 90º, South is 180º and West is 270º. All other directions are split between the 360º that make the circle.
Step 3
Adjust for true North. Magnetic North is the magnetic pole. This shifts periodically, and is different in different locations. Therefore, check your map to see the variance of magnetic North. If the legend has magnetic North positioned to the right of true North, subtract the difference from your bearing. If it is to the left, then add the difference. For example, to head East and your map shows magnetic North 11º to the right of true North, you need to maintain a bearing of 79º. (East is 90º. 90 less 11 is 79º.)
Step 4
Take your bearing off the map first, unless you can see your destination.
Step 5
Orient the map to align with North, and swivel the direction arrow to point toward your destination. Adjust for true North and maintain that bearing until you reach your destination.
Step 6
If you can see your destination, but will dip into a valley or woods that may later obscure it, take your bearing using the sight line. Maintain that bearing until reaching the destination.
Step 7
Keep the bearing even if you change direction. As long as you keep "red in the shed" your compass will point in the direction you need to travel to reach your destination.

Tips & Warnings

 
If you are unsure of your exact location on the map, you can take a bearing to two or more visible landforms. The intersection of these angles will pinpoint your position. Use landforms and features on the map to chart progress and verify position.
 
If you are unsure of your exact location on the map, you can take a bearing to two or more visible landforms. The intersection of these angles will pinpoint your position.
 
Use landforms and features on the map to chart progress and verify position.
 
Iron and steel exert a magnetic field which can interfere with finding magnetic North. Be mindful of your surroundings, and don't plot a route when near large iron or steel objects. Additionally, cell phones and electrical equipment can throw a compass off.

Article Written By Benjamin Williams

Ben Williams is an award-winning reporter and freelance writer based out of Colorado. He has written for conglomerates of newspapers and magazines, supplying news, features, editorial and opinion. While running an Energy Services and Consulting firm, he now writes for multiple websites including the news site, Examiner.com.

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