Did you know that in Sweden, Orienteering (Land Navigation using a map and compass) is part of mandatory school curricula since 1942? It has even become Sweden’s most popular sport alongside of swimming and other athletics. Similarly, other European countries like Germany established “Forest Kindergartens” which are essentially pre-schools which are strictly set in the wilderness setting. Although the United States has the Boy and Girl Scouts, the majority of American children are losing touch with nature. Similarly, life as well as survival skills that can be obtained from being outdoors are sadly fading as well. If you were never given that opportunity at a young age, it is never too late!
Navigation is a personally rewarding skill, especially when you prove to your wife that you do not need to stop and ask for directions :) All jokes aside, it’s an incredible feeling to navigate from Point A to Point B across unknown wilderness. My most enjoyable experience with navigation was actually a search and rescue course for SCUBA diving. Using our compass and map, we had to go locate multiple points across the bottom of a fresh water quarry. Visibility was only about 3 feet in front of you due to the muddy water at 80 feet under. As I left my origin and proceed to the destination, it felt like I was lost in space. There was a real hesitancy with proceeding forward as I could no longer see in front of myself…it was instruments (map and compass) only! Every minute and second that went by, I got increasingly uncomfortable, thinking we would never arrive at our destination…and then POOF, our destination landmark was right in front of us. Our trust in equipment, and the skills we obtained from our trainers felt invaluable at that very moment.
Below are two courses on Land Navigation 101 and 201 for beginners. These will be taught occasionally throughout the year @ our Cincinnati Survival / Preparedness Group. Stay tuned for sessions. In the meantime, the content in these courses is set up in a fashion that can be self taught. Feel free to download the pdf’s and start your way on an orienteering adventure.
Land Navigation for Beginners – 101
- Understanding a Lensatic / Military Compass
- Reading a topographic Map
- Association between land and maps
Land Navigation for Beginners – 201
- Direction finding: Azimuths
- Tracking: Resection, Intersection, & UTM Grid Coordinates
- Determining distances