Eastern Washington Orienteering Club

Using A Compass With A Map

Turn the map in the direction you want to go…

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Spin the map so that our proposed route runs from bottom to top (points away from you) as shown. This simple step causes things on the map to agree with what you see. Maps are small-scale representations of the terrain. The distances are vastly different, but the angles are the same. Looking at the map when it's oriented the right way gives you information about what you should anticipate seeing along the route. Looking at the real world gives you feedback that helps you pinpoint your progress on the map. In the next step you'll start using the compass.

Bonus Details

This step — orienting the map — isn't technically necessary for determining the compass heading, but it only takes a second, makes things easier to visualize, and reduces the chance of making an error.