Eastern Washington Orienteering Club

Using A Compass With A Map

Turn your body until the magnetic needle lines up with the bezel…

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In this step you're going to line up your map-north with real-world north.

Your compass is all set up and you're already holding it facing away from you. Extend your arm out a little bit and hold the compass level. Now rotate your whole body as you watch the compass. The idea is that the magnetic needle will stay still and you will rotate the compass (along with your body) until north on the compass is lined up with the red end of the compass needle. Compasses vary, but all of them indicate in some prominent way how the magnetic needle should line up with the compass bezel. A common description of this step is "put the red in the shed." When the needle is lined up correctly, your direction of travel is straight ahead.

Pick out an easily recognizable object in the distance. You can lower your compass arm and find a convenient path toward that object. When you get there, raise the compass back up and do it again.

Now that you understand how to take a bearing with a compass you can learn a little shortcut in the next step.

Bonus Details