Re-Post: Essential Skills: Field Craft 1 – Land Navigation

Originally posted on 25 March 2016

Original definition, here; our modification immediately below.

Fieldcraft is a set of tactical skills and methods each NPT member requires to operate stealthily, which may be applied in various ways in hours of darkness or inclement weather throughout the year.

For NPT members, fieldcraft skills include camouflage, land navigation, knowing and being able to apply the difference between concealment from view and cover from small arms’ fire when choosing fighting positions, using the terrain and its features to mask NPT movement, obstacle crossing, selecting good firing positions, patrol base positions, effective observation, detecting enemy-fire direction and range, survival, evasion, and escape techniques.  Expertise in fieldcraft is only possible by spending the time, effort, and attention to detail in long hours of training and practice on a consistent basis.

That said the first skill in the fieldcraft family we’re going to address is Land Navigation.  It’s a popular subject right now on various blogs, such as ‘Weapons Man’ (former SF soldier – you might consider making his site a daily stop), here, and for good reason:  Your expertise as a navigator will have a direct and relational impact on your life expectancy in a SHTF/WROL situation.  Further, learning to use a map and compass in and of itself will not suffice:  you will need to learn how to travel by terrain association.  This skill involves map study and interpretation, and the ability to use the features of the geography you’re in to provide your navigational guide.  In essence, your map and compass will become your ‘go to’ reference when you need to verify your location.  You’ll have to know the map and compass inside and out before you can effectively terrain associate.  Understanding declination adjustments, grid, magnetic, and back azimuth conversions, plotting 8 digit grid coordinates, intersection, and resection in addition to understanding the symbolism used on a map to illustrate various terrain features that will impact your travel are all essential before learning terrain association.

Also understand that learning land navigation is not a daunting task that will take months or years to get the basics.  You can learn general land navigation in a two day course (like those we and others offer) over a weekend.  The rest of the time is on you – how much you may or may not devote to practice, especially if you’re just starting out on your path to learn this vital skill.  Sure, you can go to YouTube and find hundreds of videos on ‘how to’ do land navigation.  They’re really great ‘ice breakers’ and overviews.  3 of them are embedded below.  The bad news is that, with very, very few exceptions, you’re not going to be able to learn the skill without the guidance of an instructor.  So, get a cup of coffee, and watch the below 10 to 12 minute videos for a superb introduction to land navigation, even if you’re familiar with the subject, these are great refreshers and will most likely bring to mind things you may have forgotten over time.




Then, once you’ve done that, if you don’t own one, choose a good compass.   If you choose the USGI Lensatic, great!  Get the tritium model; you won’t be sorry.  Or, if you don’t want to spend nearly $100, get either the Brunton TruArc 20, SUNNTO MC-2 or MC-3.  All are superb land nav compasses and won’t break the bank.  The Brunton is a bit less expensive than the SUUNTO, and comes with a few advantages you can read about here.  In our classes, we teach all three.  To be truthful, the USGI Lensatic is the most accurate (1 degree or less) best, but it requires the most expertise and practice to use effectively when attempting precision.  The other two are geared more to orienteering, but fit the NPT navigating requirement very, very well.  The advantages over the USGI Lensatic is the built in declination adjustment which makes them faster to use for map work because the user isn’t required to convert magnetic azimuths to grid and vice versa.  All azimuths are measure on the map as magnetic (again, this is ONLY because of the built in declination adjustment capability – if you don’t adjust the declination to what is on the map, you MUST do the conversion!)  We haven’t found any better when it comes to function and price points.  Your mileage may vary.

6 thoughts on “Re-Post: Essential Skills: Field Craft 1 – Land Navigation

  1. Pingback: DTG: Essential Field Craft – Land Nav | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  2. SemperFi, 0321

    I have the basic Suunto and Brunton clear plastic compasses, all the way up to the $500 Brunton transit (aka US M2) at work, and I have found nothing that beats the G.I. lensatic compass I learned on over 40 yrs ago. Buy a good one today and it will be with you your whole life.
    I have 2 WW2 G.I. issue compasses that still work just fine.

  3. Mark

    Just watched all three videos and read your article on the subject. I am fired up for more. Went looking for “Part 4” on his YouTube channel and came up dry! As a flight instructor knowing the importance of navigation the “old school” way this is an outstanding primer for anyone to learn. In addition, the Brunton Tru-arc 20 set appears to cover the bill for using either the USGS or MGRS mapping systems. Cannot thank you enough for posting this very important education for those of like mind.

    Semper Vigilans

  4. Pingback: Re-Post: Essential Skills: Field Craft 1 – Land Navigation — The Defensive Training Group – Nomad Advocate

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