Saturday, August 03, 2013

Squadron Meeting: 8 August 2013 - Getting Your Bearings

1LT Vade Nitram
Our unit training officer, 1LT Vade Nitram, has often righteously hectored us on the need to come prepared to our meetings. Just as in our college days, lack of preparation means a failure to learn. In this case, it inclines towards a propensity to waste our time and our trainers'. This post will provide one of the more important basics in preparation for our next meeting -- the "annual" UDF live training exercise. You are both encouraged to attend and as well as participate.

That said, last week, when called upon to provide a brief discourse on how to obtain a compass bearing, I flubbed badly and wish to correct any confusion I may have caused. One of the main skills in UDF when one is working in concert with other teams is to obtain and report a compass bearing. My fumbling last week proved that -- even though one is familiar with a compass -- continual practice leads to proficiency. Without further adieu, here is a short, illustrative video on the subject: is as blindingly simple as that! Be advised that during the exercise, we will be asking you to report MAGNETIC bearings. This means that you will NOT have to factor in the magnetic declination -- just point the Direction of Travel Arrow in the same direction as the DF antenna and read the numbers off.

Of course, the compass in the video above is a simple "orienteering compass" and commonly available at sporting goods outlets, etc. I had come across a swap meet vendor in my travels who had a plethora on made-in-China K&R Meridian knockoffs:

My source has dried up as the vendor has since disappeared but I have found these in abundance on the internet at Amazon and on eBay. Recognize that the eBay link is for one specific auction and it might die over the months. If you search for "Military Prismatic Compass" you should find a plethora of newer auctions for the same product. The good news is that the price is well below the $20 that vendor was charging me. Amazon charges shipping and the eBay auctions do not. You do the math.

Of course, I make NO recommendations for either the Amazon product or the eBay product. I am just calling your attention to a possible source. In fact, if you read the One-Star Amazon reviews, you will see that a lot of people are chuffed over the fact that a $10 Chinese knockoff wasn't a precision $150 German product.

Go figure.

I can tell you this that the compass I obtained -- and that is probably similar to the ones offered on eBay and at Amazon -- is serviceable, rugged, and points to North. It also has a feature that makes it a little neater than the orienteering compass in the video above: it has a little window into which one can look and get "more precise" bearings. You can see that in one of the views of the composite below:

One final disclaimer, this compass is neither a "prismatic compass" (it does not have a prism) nor was it used by the military (But it does sometimes come painted in a neat digital camo pattern.) Of course, there are other types of like a Cammenga lensatic compass that can be had and are of "certifiable pedigree" in that they are issued and use by our military.

The original -- not a knockoff -- runs anywhere from $60 to $100 new. Here is a closer look at the compass with the face and bezel:

Here is a detailed diagram of the Cammenga 3H (the U. S. Military standard issue) compass:

And here are the instructions on how to site a bearing (they call it an Azimuth. same difference):

Note step #3 above. Here's what they mean:

Note that they don't fuss around with the "Short Luminous Line" on the rotatable bezel, they just tell you to aim and read. So, in a way, the Cammenga is an authentic piece of hardware and is almost as easy as the Chinese knock-off above.

Irrespective of what compass you get, make it a regular habit to practice with it so you know how to use it. For example, take it on walks with you and site bearings (or azimuths)of distant objects you might see. Adds to the walk and raises your post-apocalyptic survivability as well.

Over to you..and see you on Thursday.

H. W. Yzinihp, MAJ, CAP
Squadron Commander
Squadron 150