I’m going to do a series on map reading. Today I’m going to talk about one of the fundamentals of orienteering without actually touching on the compass itself.
When you’re out in the woods with your map and compass and you’re moving from point A to point B how do you measure distance? You can’t glance down and check your odometer, so there has to be some method by which you can keep track of the distance you’ve covered.
The answer to that is the pace count. Since I was military trained I like to work in meters. Probably the easiest way to measure it is to find a high school or college track and walk 100 meters or a football field, which is 100 yards, and add a few extra steps. If you like measuring in yards then you’re all set. 100 yards =91.44 meters.
Once you’ve found your area go ahead and walk it at a natural relaxed pace counting your steps as you go. Don’t take large strides and don’t take little mincing steps. Just a regular step. Once you’ve done this turn around and do it again. And again. And again.
Some people count every step and others count only every time their left foot hits the deck. I fall into the latter category. I’ve found through experience that my pace count is 63 steps for 100 meters.
Once you’ve figured out your pace count start measuring distances as a way to practice. How far is it to the bus stop? How far is it down to the store? How far to the intersection down the road?
After a while you’ll start to get a feel for it.
Now, what about when you go out in the woods? You almost never walk a straight line and you’re going up and down and stepping long to go over logs or streams and taking little mincing steps to walk under trees or through thick brush. I might count 63 steps and only move about 90 actual meters over the ground. How do we compensate for that?
Stay tuned for the next episode! That’s enough for today. Let’s start easy and get some practical application in. Go find yourself a nice easy 100 meter track and go for a walk. Count your steps. Do it again. And again. If nothing else you’ll get a littler exercise today.
Those of you experienced with pace count how many steps do you take for a 100 meters? Those of you who got out there and did it what did you get?
Next we’ll discuss averages in the wilderness and how to keep track of distance traveled. For you over achievers Google Ranger Beads and get a head start.
Why Should I Learn Map Reading?
Understanding the Topographic Map
Discussion of Grid and Magnetic Azimuths
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.
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