Pace count beads

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Pace count beads or ranger beads is a manual counting tool used to keep track of distance travelled through a pace count.


The tool is usually constructed using a set of 13 beads on a length of cord. The beads are divided into two sections, separated by a knot. 9 beads are used in the lower section, and 4 beads are used in the upper section. There's often a loop in the upper end, making it possible to attach the tool to the users gear with a simple knot.

bag of beads and shoelaces let the scouts make their own ( )

Or they can make a set out of paracord using the Celtic button knot as the sliding item ( )


How to use

There are two ways to use the beads. One is to represent the paces the user have walked, while the other is to represent the distance walked.
Both methods requires the user to know the relationship between the paces walked and the distance travelled.

Counting paces

As users walk, they typically slide one bead on the cord for every ten paces taken. On the tenth pace, the user slides a bead in the lower section towards the knot. After the 90th pace, all 9 beads are against the knot. On the 100th pace, all 9 beads in the lower section are returned away from the knot, and a bead from the upper section is slid upwards, away from the knot.
In this manner, the user calculates distance travelled by keeping track of paces taken. To use this method, the user must know the length of his pace to accurately calculate distance travelled. Also, the number of paces to be walked must be precalculated, or the distance travelled has to be calculated from the walked paces.

Distance walked

For every 100 metres the user walks, one of the lower beads are pulled down. When the ninth of the lower beads are pulled, the user has walked 900 metres. The next time the user has walked 100 more metres, one of the upper beads are pulled down, and all the lower beads are pulled back up.
Using this method the user must know the number of paces walked in 100 metres. An experienced user can also adapt the pace count for each hundred metres depending on the terrain. When using this method the user doesn't have to calculate, or look up how long distance to walk or the distance travelled.
This method can of course be used for non-metric distances as well, though with the beads arranged in a different manner.


  • beads
  • distance measurement
  • Pace

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