Basic Compass Skill

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Learn how to use a compass and combine it with a map.


Compass (enough for 1 between 3)
OS Landranger/Explorer Map for your local area (as many as you have compasses)
Notepad and pencil


Teach Scouts about compass skills such as:

- taking bearings from a map "point to point",
- following bearings on the ground by aiming for a distant feature along your bearing,
- using a roamer to improve the accuracy of 6-figure grid references,
- "setting" a map to the surrounding area using a compass,
- back bearings to retrace your steps or for triangulating your position,
- resection to pinpoint your location by taking back-bearings of visible landmarks to triangulate your position on a map,
- deviation around an obstacle using the four right-angles method or any other method that may be appropriate,
- adjusting bearings for magnetic variation both map to compass and compass to map,
- keeping track of your location in very low visibility ie. night time/poor weather, using "dead reckoning" by noting bearings followed and paces taken.

Give each Scout/group enough time to practice each skill. There is plenty of information about this in "Scouting Skills" and on the Internet if you are unsure of how to do any of the individual techniques.

You may wish to test your Scouts' knowledge of these skills by following up this session on navigation skills with a night hike.


  • bearings
  • compass
  • navigation
  • Navigator

Badge Links

  • Air or Sea Navigation - Bearings