Compass & Map Navigation 101 Workshop

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G.A.L.A. and Jack Mountain Bushcraft School are excited to announce the next feature in their 2015 monthly NH Re-skill-ience Workshop Series, hands-on workshops focusing on homesteading, sustainable living, and traditional bushcraft skills that offer skills and knowledge to strengthen personal and community resilience. The next workshop, Compass and Map Navigation 101 takes place on Wednesday, October 7th, 5pm-7pm at Castle in the Clouds in Ossipee, NH.

Join registered Maine Guide, Tom Belluscio to learn the basic skills on orienting a map, establishing an azimuth, using a compass, understanding magnetic declination, navigating around obstacles, and other basic skills associated with compass and map navigation.

Participants will be learning these new skills at the beautiful and scenic Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area in the Ossipee Mountains of Moultonborough and Tuftonboro, a site consisting of over 5,000 conserved acres, the largest property owned and maintainedby the Lakes Region Conservation Trust (LRCT). A dedicated and enthusiastic team of LRCT volunteers maintains thirty miles of trails throughout this conservation area. Compass & Map Navigation 101 workshop takes place from 5:00pm to 7:00pm.   Castle in the Clouds Conservation Area is located at the trailhead across from the entrance to the Castle’s bottling plant atop Ossipee Park Road off of Rt. 171. The cost to participate in the workshop is $15.00 and participants should bring their own compass, bandanna, and a topographic map if they have one.  There is limited space.  Register online HERE or call 603-539-6460.

Even in this high-tech GPS era, nothing can replace the value of a magnetized compass, a paper map, and the understanding of how both can help you find your way in the wilderness. Why not rely exclusively on a watch or GPS receiver that includes a compass? Because those are battery-reliant devices, and batteries may expire or electronic circuitry can malfunction. To achieve the utmost confidence you need the dependability of a compass that relies only on earth’s magnetic fields.

A compass contains an iron needle that aligns with the Earth’s magnetic field lines. Chinese literature from 80 AD contains the first record of magnetized stone being used to determine direction. It wasn’t until the 12th century that mariners used lodestone, a magnetized rock, floating on wood in water for navigation. Prior to that, navigation was done by the stars, the Sun and prominent landmarks, and knowledge of the characteristics of wind direction in specific regions.

Today’s compass contains a permanent magnet, usually shaped like an arrow or needle, that is free to rotate on a spindle. If not disturbed, the magnet will align with Earth’s north-south magnetic field lines. Most practical compasses contain a liquid filled case housing the magnet. The fluid acts to quickly dampen the compass oscillations as it swings into alignment with the Earth’s magnetic field.

To orient a map, the map is placed on a level, horizontal surface that is away from sources of magnetic interference. The compass is placed on the declination diagram at the bottom of the map, with the orienting lines on the compass dial lined up with the magnetic north line on the diagram. The magnetic north line in the declination diagram can be extended in straight lines with a pencil and straight edge, if this aids in the use of the diagram. The map and compass are rotated as a unit until the compass needle is boxed by the orienting arrow. There are other procedures that can be followed that will also orient a map.

An azimuth is taken with a compass, also known as “shooting a bearing”, by holding the compass horizontal and level at waist, or a little higher, with the direction of travel arrow pointing at the object for which the azimuth is being taken. Care is taken to assure that the compass is away from metal, wires, and equipment that might interfere with its operation. The compass housing is turned, without moving the base plate, until the compass needle lies within the orienting arrow on the compass housing. The azimuth to the object is the degrees indicated on the rim of the compass housing adjacent to the index line. When azimuths are transmitted to other elements of the operation, the transmitter should specify whether the azimuth is magnetic or true. If the azimuth is taken as magnetic (taken with a compass), it should be transmitted as magnetic azimuth (not converted to true azimuth) unless the conversion is specifically requested by the recipient. (Map and Compass Fundamentals by Mike Lynch, SBSAR)

Three important skills participants will gain from this workshop include orienting a map with respect to the terrain (and north), obtaining an azimuth to an object, and determining the current position by taking azimuths to visible terrain features identifiable on a topo map, then using the intersection of the azimuth lines to establish a position for the observer. Join registered Maine Guide, Tom Belluscio at this upcoming Re-skill-ience workshop to learn the basic skills on orienting a map, establishing an azimuth, using a compass, understanding magnetic declination, navigating around obstacles, and other basic skills associated with compass and map navigation.

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