COMPASS & PACING
Dr. Deborah B. Hill, Department of Forestry
Pacing is a simple means of measuring
linear distance by walking. It can be used outdoors or indoors, in the
woods or over land.
Pacing's measurement dates back to
Roman times. The Roman pace, measured from the heel of the foot to the
heel of the same foot in the next stretch, was about 58.1 inches. Today
this is known as the geometric pace, which measures about 5 feet.
To make pacing work for you, you need
to know how much distance your pace covers. You can determine this by walking
a pre-measured course a few times and then checking the pacing chart below.
A pace equals two normal steps, beginning and ending on your dominant foot.
A common use for pacing in forestry
is to pace off 66 feet from a tree in order to get a measurement of tree
height. This is why you determine your pace on a 66-foot course.
Determining your pace length
1.Begin by measuring a 66-foot course
with a tape measure. You will use this distance to establish your pace
2.Pace off the course measured at Step
# 1. Repeat two or three times and compare results.
3.Look up the number of your paces
on the chart below to determine how many linear feet each of your paces
covered. EX.: If it takes you 24 paces to cover 66 feet, each of your paces
is 2.75 feet.
4.When you need to go from one point
to another and do not know how far it is, pace the distance. Record the
number of paces and multiply your individual pace by the number of paces
to get the answer. EX... If it takes you 10 paces to cover an unknown distance,
multiply your known pace (say, 4.26 feet) by 10 to get 42.6 feet.
5.If you are given a specific distance
to travel (say, 66 feet) between two points, divide your pace (say, 4 feet)
into the distance you are given to figure out how many paces you need to
get there (16.5 paces in this case.)
Competitions usually give you either
the linear distance you need to travel between two points or two clearly
visible points between which you have to pace the distance.
A compass tells you in what direction
you are headed relative to magnetic north. You can combine use of a compass
with your newly found knowledge of pacing to find your way across country
(where there may not be any paths or roads) with the help of a topographic
map that shows mountains, streams and other landmarks. Using a compass
and pacing with a topographic map across country or through a forest is
In order to use a compass successfully,
you need to know: a) where magnetic north is; b) where you are in relation
to where you want to be (e.g., is this area east of your home, or south?);
and c) how to set the bearing for where you want to go.
The following will help you use a compass
correctly to identify the direction in which you are headed.
1.The circular part of the unit is
the compass itself and is measured in 360 degrees.
2.The red needle (the one that moves)
always points to magnetic north.
3.Each small mark on the rim of the
compass is 2 degrees.
4.Each large mark on the rim of the
compass is 10 degrees.
5.The inches or millimeters marked
on the edge of the compass help you use the scale on a map to tell how
far it is between two points.
6.The hole in the corner of the compass
is for a string so you can carry it around your neck.
Using the Compass
1.Turn the rim of the compass until
the moving needle lies between the arrow marks drawn on the bottom of the
2.Make sure the red end of the needle
points to the "N" on the rim. (b)
3.Always have the front of the compass
(the inch ruler edge) pointed in the direction you are heading. (c)
4.Hold the compass level (parallel
to the ground) so the needle can float freely in the liquid inside the
5.Turn your body to face squarely in
the direction you are headed. Hold the compass close to your body at about
chest level so that you can look down on it and read it easily.
6.Read compass bearing (direction you
are heading) at the front of the compass where it says "read bearing here."
7.Determine the correct number of degrees
where the solid line crosses the compass rim.
8.Making sure your compass is sighted
on the point you are headed toward, walk in a straight line toward that