Trust your Compass

peter

Ray Mears
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People can get lost , for all sorts of reasons. But one of the worst ways, to get lost. Is to think your compass is broken. I know it sounds crazy to think your compass is broken, but fear will mess your head up big time. It happens a lot more than you think. I could list a few famous ones, but it would be in bad taste as they all died. If you ever start to think your compass is a bit off, it's a real good time to sit down, & make yourself a cup of tea.
 

gelandangan

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In most of my rifles, I epoxied a small compass on them so I could chase an animal in the scrub without worry of getting lost.
Since often I would just jump out of the car and start chasing with whatever I got in my person, often I forgot to bring a compass or GPS with me.

However, in the beginning, I was a bit of a numbskull, and I attached the compass under the metal stock.
Guess what, the metal eventually get magnetized by whatever, and all of a sudden the compass points wrong.
Now, I attach the compass on the scope aluminum adjusting cover (screwed on cover), so I could unscrew it off the rifle and use it to get me back.
 

Stewart Townsend

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Yes 99% of the time the compass should be right.

At Kelvin Grove barracks there used to be a marker to check your compass, I can't remember the distant aiming mark. There was some difference with a weapon and also a radio on your pack.
 

Aussie123

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I usually carry two compasses, a good one and a small cheapie !

I've never really been worried about the accuracy of the compass, but I have read that is high stress situations people can doubt the reliability of their compass, especially if it is "pointing in the wrong direction" !

A recommendation for emergency kits is to include two, different, compasses. That way (when under stress), you can have some peace of mind if you find yourself doubting your direction.

I think the best advice (as Peter says) is to stop and have a cuppa and a snack. Not only does this give you time to think through the situation and re-trace your steps, the hydration and energy from a snack, can help you get back on track – so to speak.

A bit of looking around and thought can do wonders to orient yourself.
 

Aussie123

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... Having said all that, ther are places where compasses don't work too well, esp in iron ore country and I've been in spots in the Flinders Ranges which are huge magnatite outcrops.

There are other magnetic anomolies about too, but for most of us, these are so rare I don't think we ever need worry about them.

... Just step away from the car - that's a common mistake before you take a bearing.
 

GTVi

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When your faced with fear or messed up head, a good cup of tea and a pack of cards (solitare) is a good distraction and allows your mind and body to relax...sometimes even "sleeping on a problem" produces good results, the brain works in strange ways.
 

Walker

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Many a time in the bush we've stood around a map scratching our heads wondering whether that side gully is the one we're suppose to turn off at. But when EVERY member of the team carries a compass and has observed different aspects along a route, it's not long before some dead-reckoning and a few compass shots confirm the position.

I agree wholeheartedly with the comments above - if not sure, stop, make a cuppa, have a snack, and make time. The time saved in doing this will be made up anyway.


Those are the advantages of travelling in a group - more than one compass and many eyes that have spied the route.
 

BOD

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Having two compasses is not good enough. - Which one do you believe?

You need three - even if the other two are just buttons.

I did have a compass that pointed South with the N arrow
 

Aussie123

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Having two compasses is not good enough. - Which one do you believe?
You believe the one which is pointing in the "right" direction ! LOL

Seriously though - You should check them before you head off, and they should both be pointing in the same direction !
 

Wentworth

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Good thread. We did a three dayer in Kanangra and had just climbed up a knoll to have lunch on top. Went to backtrack and found that my compass was pointing the "wrong direction". I'm glad we sat down and had a look at the map to double check some prominant features and work out that the compass was right and I was wrong!
 

peter

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Being a slack arse. I had got into, putting the black south end in the shed, when i wanted to go back, the way i came. Bit me in the arse big time one day LOL {that turned into 2 days}. I don't do that anymore.
 

Bartnmax

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There really is no guarantees of not getting lost, however I believe there is a big difference between getting truly 'lost' & just becomming 'bushed'.
That's where the cuppa often can be the best tool in ya kit.
Most people are prety well equipt.
If they have a compass to trust then most likely they will also have a map & will have done a reasonable ampount of research into the area they are in. meaning there's details in that memory somewhere - it's just a matter of looking deep enough to find em ;-)

I always carry a backup compass as well as a map of the area I'm hiking in.
During researching the area, I'll take notes & make sure those notes come along with me for reference.
The reason most people get 'lost' is due to panicking.
Sit down, have a cuppa, settle the nerves, & think.
Often the worst that eventuates is a trip off the beaten track & back.

In today's world of high tech, the inet, & all the other resources available there really is no excuse for getting truly lost anymore.
That's different to getting 'bushed' however.
I've been hunting in an outback paddock that was 5+kms between fences when the sun went down on a very grey day.
No idea which was was Nth,Sth,Est,West, however, I wasn't overly worried as I had a very accurate 'mud map' inside my head & knew I was surrounded by fences that were no more than 5kms away at the worst, & once I hit those fences I knew just about every inch of em & that they would lead me back to camp.
So, bushed I was but I also knew I had no more than 4-6 hrs walking at worst to get back on track.
Fortunatly the sun was back out inside an hr & that gave me the direction I needed & shortcut a lot of walking.

I believe you can never underestimate the value of that hot cuppa.
It warms you up, settles the nerves, provides hydration & also a much needed energy fix (if you remembetred to bring some sugar along).
It's the best weapon you have in that fight to keep panick at bay (along with fire lighting tools & a good knife).

Trusting one's compass is never foolproof, but rarely will they go far wrong.
If you've planned enough to bring one along in the first place then you'll most likely also be well aware of anything that's likely to negatively effect it (short of physical damage that is).
And the best way to learn to trust it is to 'practice, practice, practice' as always.

Bill.
 
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peter

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Great post Bill I like the term bushed. Cheers Peter
 

climbndrive

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Love my compass got me out of a pickle a few times, the one time i remember the most was while hiking in the Grampians with a tafe group that were learning to use features to navigate, so no one was allowed to bring a compass,no one told me this, we were half way through our day when low cloud crept over the hills hiding all the features, we came to a stop as we needed to take a turn of the main track,which i noticed we had passed earlier but said nothing as this was a learning experince for the group arrguments and division gave me much amusment for a few minutes until panic started to overcome some of the group, i asked if anyone had a compass the all said no, i chuckled again got mine out took a rough track bearing and we decided to head of track west down the hill right to our camping area, Valuable lesson learned by everyone that trip,if instuctors bans you from taking a compass take one anyway.
 
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Templar

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There is no excuse today not to carry a compass, especially since you can now get good quality compasses quite cheap... I carry a couple with me when out, a small watch strap silva SERE, a quality Silva 54/6400 base plate compass and an Israeli military Prismatic recalibrated to our magnetic zone and the card replaced with an ADF standard one.

As CnD said, even if you are told not to, take one (or more) and keep it safe.

99% of the time you will be able to trust your compass, however there is that 1% of the time when local magnetic fields will throw off the compass, I have had this a couple of times and can be quite confusing at times, you just need to move away from the area and check your compass again. If you do get lost and feel your compass is wrong (it happens every day) by getting two different ones out and laying them down a metre or two apart can be a good plan to confirm your bearings and help you trust your compass again.

Also, take note of things around you such as:

- Power lines
- Radio equipment
- Metal objects (firearms, axes, large knives, etc)
- Motor Vehicles

all these can throw off your compass and make your bearings diviate from true.
 

Bartnmax

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Yeah I agree 100% Karl.
The availability of quality compasses has never been better.
For less thsan $50 you can buy a compass that, if properly looked after, will last a lifetime.
This idea of an instructor banning people from taking a compass with them is incredible IMO, even if it is a teaching exercise.
Does not instill a lot of confidence in the instructor at all as far as I'm concerned.
Ok, by all means ban people from using them unless they absolutely have to if the focus of the exercise is on learning to Nav' by landmark, but I would think that any good outdoors instructor would always, under absolutely every circumstance, first & foremost advocate the inclusion of a quality compass whenever anyone of his students takesn even one step out into the bush. A qulity compass is always one of the first items to go with me when I head bush. Even if it's only for a short period of time.
I ca'nt see any possible reason at all why anyone would plan any trip into the bush, no matter how short that period is, and not take a compass.
No excuse in today's world IMO.
 

auscraft

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I can't believe an instructor could be so stupid to ban bring a compass i could understand him banning the use of one during the exercise, I am glad for what ever reason CnD you took yours. these stupid events are how serious problems occur all good intentions , no good planning.
Was the instructor there when the cloud came in, if so he would have truely been put in place :)
 

Big Bill

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I know it may sound silly but you must absolutly know where you start from ....
 

Walker

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I know it may sound silly but you must absolutly know where you start from ....
Not so, that's where the other aspects of navigation come in - dead reckoning and doing a bit of triangulation to observed features (reference points - geographical features). It's one thing learning to use a map and compass, but an entirely different thing learning navigation.
 
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