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Compass & Pacing. Instructional Materials Service Texas A&M University - 8987E -. Compass & Pacing. Baseplate Compass Engineer’s Lensatic Compass Pacing Compass Use. Baseplate Compass. There are several grades and types of compasses. A good baseplate compass will have a:

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Compass & Pacing

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Compass & Pacing

Instructional Materials Service

Texas A&M University

- 8987E -

Compass& Pacing

  • Baseplate Compass

  • Engineer’s Lensatic Compass

  • Pacing

  • Compass Use

Baseplate Compass

There are several grades and types of

compasses. A good baseplate compass will

have a:

  • Rotating, fluid-filled housing

  • Baseplate

  • Compass needle

  • North alignment needle

  • Direction-of-travel arrow


Direction-of-travel arrow


North alignment

Rotating housing

Compass needle

Orientation lines

Compass housing

Baseplate Compass

Baseplate Compass

Baseplate compasses

may include:

  • A scale

  • A magnifier

  • Templates

  • Lanyard (a wrist, or neck travel cord)


Direction-of-travel arrow


Slot for lanyard

Baseplate Compass

  • The fluid-filled housing slows the motion of the needle so the operator does not need to hold the compass motionless during use.


Baseplate Compass

  • The compass housing includes degree marks, 0° to 360°.

  • The reading for North is both 0° and 360°.


Baseplate Compass

  • The red end of the compass needle always points to Magnetic North.



Engineer‘s Lensatic Compass

Compass includes:

  • A fluid-filled housing

  • A Magnetic North arrow

  • Directional marks

  • A magnifying lens

  • A line-of-sight directional viewfinder



Two methods of pacing:

  • Pace equals two steps

  • Pace equals steps traveled in a 100-foot distance

Method 1:

Pace Equals Two Steps

Pace Equals Two Steps

Determining an accurate pace:

  • Measure a 100-foot distance between two markers, Point A and Point B.

  • The area between the markers should be flat and free of obstacles.

Pace Equals Two Steps

  • Travel from Point A to Point B, counting off each step.

  • Repeat several times recording step count each time.

Pace Equals Two Steps

  • Divided total number of steps recorded (120) by number of attempts completed (3)(120) steps ÷ (3) attempts = 40 steps

  • Average equals (40) steps.

Pace Equals Two Steps

  • Divide (100) distance by (40) step average100 ÷ 40 = (2.5) step length

  • Multiply (2.5) step length by (2).

  • 2.5 x 2 = 5

  • Pace = 5 feet

Method 2:

Steps Traveled in 100 Feet

Steps Traveled in 100 Feet

  • Once an average pace is established, it is possible to determine how many steps it will take to travel a given distance.

    In this example, 40 steps = 1 pace

Steps Traveled in 100 Feet

Distance from point A to point B = (160) steps

Pace = (40) steps

Divide (160) distance from A to B by (40) steps

160 ÷ 40 = 4

Multiply 4 by (100) distance used to find pace

4 x 100 = 400

Distance to target is 400 feet

Steps Traveled in 100 Feet

Calculate the number steps to travel a

distance of 185 feet.

  • Divide (185) distance by 100

    185 ÷ 100 = 1.85

    Remember: 40 steps = 1 pace

  • Multiply 40 by 1.85

    1.85 x 40 = 74

    It will take 74 steps to travel 185 feet.

Pacing (Obstacles)

  • It is necessary to determine pace on uneven terrain, through ditches, grasses, trees, brush of various heights, and other obstacles.


Beginners should:

  • Use a measuring tape to accurately measure a 100-foot distance.

  • Practice on clean, level ground, using a natural walking gait.

  • Maintain a constant, reliable pace, regardless of the obstacles.

Compass Use

Compass Use

  • The Earth’s North and South poles act like a huge magnet. One pole is positive and one pole is negative.

  • Because magnetic and true North are not the same, corrections are made in surveying to compensate for this difference. The difference is referred to as magnetic declination.

Compass Use

  • The compass needle, which floats in the fluid-filled chamber, is magnetized.

  • Regardless of the compass position, the red needle is drawn to the Magnetic North Pole.

Compass Use

  • The circular rotating housing enclosing the needle is marked in degrees in increments from 0° to 360°.

  • Degrees are also referred to as the azimuth or bearing.


Compass Use

  • Directional letters N, S, E, and W, are identified on the housing.


Compass Use

Example: To find the direction-of-travel based on a compass reading of 210 feet at 320° from a specific location:

Reading 210 feet at 320°

  • Rotate the housing on the compass until the 320° mark lines up with the direction-of-travel arrow.

Direction-of-travel arrow


Reading 210 feet at 320°

  • Rotate the entire compass until the compass needle lines up in the North alignment position.

Direction-of-travel arrow

Needle in the North Alignment Position

Reading 210 feet at 320°

  • Holding the compass at eye level, use the direction-of-travel arrow to identify a distant landmark.

  • Walk in a straight line as indicated by the direction-of-travel arrow for a distance of 210 feet to the recorded location.

Compass Reading 210 feet at 320°

Compass Use

  • Note: All magnetic objects, such as belts, watches, keys, and other metal objects can interfere with the compass reading.

  • Hold compass away form metal objects when taking a reading.

Compass Use

  • Aerial maps are available through the Natural Resource Conservation Service or the Soil and Water Conservation District.

  • Maps should be read with a compass on a flat, horizontal surface, away from metal objects.

  • Readings may be taken from maps based on specific location and the direction to be traveled.

Compass Use

  • The ability to use a compass effectively is an essential skill for wildlife managers, biologists, and other scientists who work outdoors. It is also a beneficial tool for the outdoor enthusiast.


Dr. Joe Dettling, Associate Professor, Instructional Materials Service, Texas A&M University, researched and developed the information used in this PowerPoint Presentation.

Jerry Dornak, Agricultural Science & Technology Instructor, Goliad High School, Goliad, Texas and Dr. Terry Blankenship, Wildlife Biologist, Welder Wildlife Foundation, Sinton, Texas, reviewed material used this PowerPoint.

Christine Stetter, Artist, Instructional Materials Service, Texas A&M University, developed and illustrated this PowerPoint Presentation.

Vickie Marriott, Office Associate, Instructional Materials Service, Texas A&M University, edited the material in this PowerPoint Presentation.

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