Land Navigation Lesson Plan Outline


I. Topic Area:
Land Navigation

II. Goal:
For participants to understand and have experience with the 3 keys of land navigation.

III. Objectives:
1) Participants will demonstrate their ability to adjust for declination.
2) Participants will calibrate their pace and use it to travel a specified distance.
3) Participants will plot a course on a topographical map and follow it on the ground.

IV. Time Required: A total of 2 hrs and 45 minutes.

V. Materials Needed:
Compasses, local topographical maps, protractors, worksheets, pencils, whistles, calculators, and a demo compass.

VI. Age Group:
A group of 16 to 21 year olds who already have a basic knowledge of map and compass.

VII. Activity Procedure Outline:

Part One: Pacing Skills (30 minutes)

1) To start out participants will calibrate their pace.
-They will pace an area that measures 200 feet in length three times. Then they will figure the length of their pace by dividing the course length (200 feet) by their average number of paces they took to travel it.

2) Explain proper sighting with a compass.
-Tell them to sight, using their dominant eye, to the landmark that they want to travel to.

3) Make sure they are aware of things that could throw off their compass reading (metal objects, electrical lines, etc.).

Part Two: Compass Skills (50 minutes)

1) Thoroughly explain the rules of adjusting for declination.
-Use a large demo compass as a visual aid.
-When converting a map bearing to a compass bearing, west is best (add declination), and east is least (subtract declination).
-When converting a compass bearing to a map bearing, west is not best (it is the opposite of changing a map bearing to a compass bearing). Subtract a westerly declination and add an easterly declination.

2) Explain how to use the declination shift formula.

3) Give participants a declination worksheet that has them converting bearings from map to compass, from compass to map, and determining what the new declination of the area should be.

4) Make sure each participant has a map, access to a compass, protractor, worksheet, pencil, and a compass.
-The map your worksheet should be set up for should be an older map of the area that you will be working in.
-Make sure the worksheet has the rules for converting bearings, and the method and formula for adjusting for annual declination shift.

Part Three: Test Map Skills (1 hour)
1) Have participants get in groups of 2.

2) Give participants the coordinates for a 3-legged compass walk and the distance they need to travel (1/4 mile should be a good distance to build their confidence. You don't want to set them up for failure).

3) Make sure each group has 2 compasses, a map, protractor, pencil, 2 whistles and a coordinate sheet.

4)Make sure participants know where they are on the map.
-Give them their first landmark destination. Make sure they can find it on the map and that it will be easy to find on the ground.

5)Have them plot their route on the map and then follow it on the ground.
-From their first destination they will add 120 degrees to their first bearing. After they travel the same distance as the first leg they should add another 120 degrees.

6) Participants should end up at or near to where they initially started.

Part Four: Conclusion (25 minutes)
1) After participants return from their navigation experience, go over what participants learned while having their field experience. Go over any questions or concerns.

2) Review why it is important to know proper land navigation techniques for backcountry travel.

VIII. Safety Considerations:
Before you send participants into the woods make sure that they understand how to use the compass, the map, paces, and that they understand the methods of adjusting for declination. Make sure that the area is safe to use. Check for any potential hazards that could threaten the well being of participants. When traveling in the woods make sure the participants use the buddy system. Instruct participants to blow their whistle only if they are lost. It would also be desirable to supervise groups while they venture into the woods and to also make sure they have a good understanding of Leave No Trace and low-impact hiking techniques.

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