Instead of writing a book on how to use your compass and map, I’ll direct you to a link that I give to all the students in my basic land nav. class. I use some of his material as a handout in those classes. Any future posts regarding land nav. will assume you understand this material.
The link is: http://compassdude.com
On his site you’ll find every topic covered that you need to get started using your compass and map. The site is well laid out and simple to use. For folks new to land nav., take your time and go through each topic and then get outside and practice until your comfortable with each. If you have questions along the way, send them my way and I’ll do my best to help. Again, you’ve got to get outside and practice, the same way you would when you go to the range and practice with that new AR-15.
A few topics he covers that you need to spend extra attention to are: the sub topic “Basic compass reading” under “Compass Reading” (RED IN THE SHED, RED IN THE SHED, RED IN THE SHED), Declination, Headings, Orienting a Map, and Triangulation. At the bottom of the topic “Declination” you will find a radio button marked “declination”. Selecting this will give you an updated declination angle for any area of the earth. This is important due to the out-of-date declination given on most topo maps.
He gives some good general info. on pacing (pace count). Keep in mind his point-of-reference is as a civilian daytime hiker. If you are moving at night during low natural illumination, through a thickly wooded area or over flat terrain with very few natural or man-made features, your pace count will become important. Not so much when using terrain association which we will discuss later. Practice your pace count as he recommends, then also learn your pace count with your ruck on, and over varying terrain. My pace count is 67 on flat terrain. 63 with a ruck on over flat terrain. I learned it in 1986 and haven’t forgotten it since. I still find myself counting every other left step in my head when out walking.
Now get out and practice. (RED IN THE SHED)