Learn how to use the lensatic compass used by the US Military. Plotting a bearing on a map using a round lensatic compass. Sighting the bearing. To determine our location we are going to combine two pieces of information. Use a compass to explore, navigate, map terrain and travel around the Engineers, the engineer compass is also called a lensatic compass.

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Typically these features are prominent, such as a hilltop, a man-made structure, or an intersection, but they can be more nebulous if you’re in a tight spot.

Declinations to the west are subtracted from the degrees you are reading, and declinations to the east are added.

Plotting a bearing on a map using a round lensatic compass

Open the engineer compass until the cover is 90 degrees to the compass case. Want a free ebook on Land Navigation? Turn the compass in a horizontal manner until the azimuth is directly beneath the black index line on the face. Using your protractor or other straight edge, you draw a line from your current position in the direction of where you want to go.

Watch this video on YouTube Choosing Landmarks The landmark you choose can be anything visibly noteworthy. We will be plotting our bearing relative to Magnetic North, so there is no need to adjust for a different north reference.

Imagine that you want to hold it as if it were firmly mounted in that position. Face the object that you want to measure using the engineer compass. The location we sighted the bearing to the cabin is where the back bearing intersects the lake shore.


What I haven’t covered in much detail is some of the nuances of lensatic compasses, such as the tips and tricks to getting the most out of them in the field. It has replaced radium in recent decades after it was discovered that radium exposure is linked to an increased occurrence of bone cancer.

Depending on which text editor you’re pasting into, you might have to add the italics to the site name. Proceed to that target. With solid land-navigation skills, you’ll be more confident and “at home” in the wilderness. When we plot it on the map, we will start plotting at the known location, and extend the bearing line back towards the unknown location.

Instead you will use an imaginary line that runs down the center of the compass. Perhaps this is why most military personnel are trained to plot bearings using a protractor on a Coordinate Scale and Protractor tool.

If the tritium in your compass has become dim such that you can’t read the compass at night, you can “charge” it up with any flashlight.

You need to write things down, draw lines, perform math, and make sure you do so with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Put that hand up to the compass, steadying the compass by placing your index finger along the compass’s side, and wrapping your thumb between the bezel ring and the rear sight. Watch this video on YouTube There are different ways of holding the compass.

Comoass no fear, the science here is sound a proven. At night, however, or in other periods of limited visibility fog, blizzard, etc keeping these two luminous bits lined up will be your only remedy.

A round lensatic compass has no straight edge to align. The older the map, the more likely the declination shown in the diagram is no longer correct. Then turn the azimuth to the other direction 90 degrees left, in this caseand move the exact same distance as when you deviated from your original path.


The key to the whole operation is having a map and being able to locate these features on that map. Comlass want to find hod position using the technique of partial resection, so you need to know that tower’s bearing with a high degree of accuracy. There’s a lot of room for error and mistakes, and it takes time, which is sometimes a very precious commodity.

In the daytime, you’ll normally find something in the distance on your azimuth and walk to it, so you don’t have to keep staring at the compass.

How to Use a Lensatic Military Compass – Navigate Safely in the Wild

Make a mark with your pencil at the notch on the end furthest from the sighting wire. Use a compass to get a general sense of direction for North, South, East, and West. Well, that is, unless you’re doing something silly like holding the compass backwards. Generally lwnsatic you have drawn your own Magnetic North line, you will not need to do this again on this map sheet for many years.

Get your own customized topographical maps, built according to your specifications. Next we’re going to talk about some of the uses of a lensatic compass, starting with the resection.