If you know how to successfully use a compass it can be the difference between getting lost in the endless Australian bush and navigating your way safely through on a successful hike, bushwalk or even camping trip.
Knowing how to use a compass is generally considered to be a skill for those that spend a heap of time in the great outdoors however it doesn’t hurt to know even if you are not an outdoor enthusiast because after all you never know when it may come in handy.
What is a compass?
A compass is an age old tool used for centuries to navigate. No matter where you stand and which way you face the compass that you are holding will always show which way is north and once you know this you can determine where you are on a map or which way you need to travel.
But how does it know I hear you ask.
It’s a very simple principle really. A magnetic compass has a small magnet that is light inside of its cover. This magnet is balanced on a pivot point that is almost frictionless and is often referred to as a needle. This magnet or needle is always attracted to the magnetic north pole which is why whichever way you turn it the needle will point towards north.
How to use a compass:
One thing that you need to remember is that the map grid north and magnetic north are not identical and you need to allow for this when using a map. Usually you can adjust for this by turning the casing approximately 2 degrees.
1. Line the map north up with the north on the compass
2. Take a bearing on the map and decide in which direction you need to head
3. Regularly check that you are still headed in the correct direction – taking note of your surroundings as you move.
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