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The Big Picture

Know where you are, so you can know where you are going.

The Big Picture

Before I took my first land navigation course at Camp Mackall, where I learn map reading and compass work, I spent my youth in the woods. From the Australian bush to Washington State's Cascade Mountains to Louisiana swamps, I explored, hunted, and chased coon dogs through every kind of lowland, plain, and forest. I don’t remember ever being lost, even though I never had a map to read or a compass to follow.

This experience benefited me greatly during my Phase One training. Most of the guys I trained with had really never wandered the woods; some had spent no time in the woods at all. For me, leaning how to find location and destination with map and compass simply added another layer to knowledge previous experience already provided.

There are natural signs all around the navigator, all indicating direction and location. The navigator would benefit knowledge of these signs. Some or simple, such as remembering the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Some are slightly more complicated, like marking a moving shadow to indicate true east and west. Some things are even more complicated, like discovering your lat/long with a stick, a piece of string, a few stones, a watch, and the accurate date. 

The average navigator notices natural signs whenever the need arises. The good navigator notices them day and night, always maintaining an awareness of his current location and destination.

Compasses can break. Maps can become lost. Hand-held GPSs can fail. Knowledge remains when everything else is stripped away. 

The following pages are broken into segments. They will explain the sun, the paths it takes through the sky, and how to use its movement to determine direction and location and the sun relationship to the lines of latitude and longitude. Thereafter, these pages will cover the stars, the moon, streams, rivers, terrain features, and other things.

When getting from here to there, you’ve got to know where you are before you can know where you are going.



Reading The Sun 
Position, shadows, sunrise, and sunset. How to use the sun to fix your position and discover your location. 

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