Intermediate Orienteering Skills
Lesson 6: Navigating with the Thumb Compass
The thumb compass allows you to hold the map and compass together in one hand. This makes it easier and quicker to check the direction, every time you read the map.
- Hold the map in front of you, with the next control (or the point you want to head towards) facing directly outwards (at 90° to your body) Make sure your keep the map and compass flat.
- Place the tip of the compass on the map, at the exact location you are currently standing. Point the inside edge of the compass towards the next control (or the point you want to go to).
- Rotate your body and the map until the map is oriented to north.
- On the map, sight along the imaginary line joining the point where you are now, to the point where you’re going. Extend this line into the forest and sight a distinct tree or other landmark you can head towards.
I am at control 1, wanting to navigate directly to control 2. I hold the map in front of me and place the tip of the compass on control 1. I turn my body (and map) until the map is oriented north. I sight along a line from control 1 to 2, and extend the line into the distance. This is the direction I must go.
I’m at the track bend, and want to head towards the fence, past two boulders. I orient the map and sight along an imaginary line joining the point where I am (track bend) to the point where I am going (fence beyond the boulders). I extend this line into the forest and sight a distinct tree or other landmark that I can head towards.
Always keep your map oriented to north and use the compass to check your direction. Use the tip of the compass to ‘thumb’ with, and move it along as you read off the detail that you pass. Read the map and think ahead.
Check your direction every time you read the map.
It’s much easier to keep running in the correct direction if you have good vision into the distance. Pick a distant point in the correct direction and keep on heading towards it, while cross checking the features around you. If you do not have a good view, pick an object closer by, and repeat the process more frequently.
The correct direction combined with accurate map reading is the safest orienteering.