Tips & Techniques
I have taught Map and Compass Orienteering to both civilian search and rescue and military combat units over the years. I too have found the lensatic compass to be one of the best over all tools for finding your way in the wilderness. The lensatic compass needle being affected by metallic objects cannot be over stated. Metal objects in your pockets can alter the compass reading. When in the US Army, I taught my troops to give their weapons to their squad mate and walk a few meters away from them and the equipment and then take the reading. If moving over a long distance an error of 2 degrees can put you over a mile off of your destination.
In civilian life, I taught my students to hold the compass at arms length for the reading and slowly bring the compass to you to get the reading. Working mostly in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Central California, I have even found that taking a reading near a large rock formation that has a high iron or other metal content will throw off the reading. One of the best ways to overcome this is to take several readings as you move along. You will see how the readings change slightly and you can adjust your course. And of course, practice, practice, practice. No the tools of your trade.
Submitted by: Jay Clark, Exeter, CA
Use terrain features like "road signs." As you move thru an area, keep an eye on the various terrain features you pass, and identify those same terrain features (in the correct positions) on your map. Once you get used to this, moving thru unfamiliar terrain will feel as natural as moving thru city streets with a street map.