You have learned to identify where you are going, what direction you need to follow to get there, and how long you need to walk, now you have to actually walk there. But just pointing your compass in a direction and start walking is a recipe for disaster - there is more to it than that.

You must walk that distance and know how many steps it will take to get you there - this is pace. And you must know how to follow your azimuth using the compass and landmarks.


We will start by determining your pace. You start by getting a standard distance. In the Army we use 100 meters, but unless you have a 100 meter distance marked and handy, a better one for you may be 1/10th of a mile. If you have a trip odometer on your car, zero it out by a landmark like a street corner - be as accurate as you can. Then drive until your odometer hits .1 mile and stop immediately, note a good landmark at that spot for your end point.

Now that you have done this, you need to walk from your start point to the end point. Start off on your left foot and count every time your right foot hits the ground. You could count when every foot hits the ground, but imagine trying to keep up with a count like 132 when you could as easily count to only 66. Do this 4 times, start to end, end to start, start to end, then back one more time doing counting your pace each time. At the end, add them up then average it out. The result is your pace count. My pace count for 100 meters is 62, and for 1/10th of a mile is 100, but yours could be a lot more or less depending on your stride.

****Note. A problem I see often is that people take overly large steps when determining their pace count. Remember that you will be traveling across uneven terrain, walking long distances and getting tired (and taking smaller steps), and may be stopping regularly to check your azimuth.****

Now you know your base pace. You already know from experience that walking up or down hills changes how you walk, as well as walking through thick brush or walking in the dark. In these situations there are general rules of thumbs to apply about adding to your pace count - 20% is a good rule of thumb in any situation that might cause you to change your stride. Example: your walking to your next point and have a pace of 100 for 1/10th of a mile. You need to climb a section of hill for the next 1/10th of a mile, so for that section, our pace for the next section will be 120 paces per 1/10th of a mile instead of 100. If you were doing the same thing in the dark it would be 140 paces because you are applying the 20% for two different factors.

Pace beadsIn lesson 5 you learned to measure distance. Distance between the ends of your legs will most likely be more than 1/10th of a mile. Instead of counting every other step for the entire length, do the distance in 100 meter or 1/10th of a mile increments (depending on how you plan to measure distance) until you reach the end. Some people use tick marks on paper at each increment, some pick up a rock, some use beads (my favorite), but develop a system and stick with it. Example: your walking 1.2 miles, at the end of the first 1/10th of a mile (100 paces) you pick up a small stone and put it in your pocket. Repeat for every 1/10th of a mile until you have 12 stones, then your there!

Another technique that comes with experience is timing the legs. Once you get good, you will know about how long it will take you to walk a given distance, then you can just know what your start time is on a leg, and how long it should take to reach the end based on the type of terrain covered. Don't expect this to work unless you do it a lot!


The second and probably more important half to walking and navigating is knowing your azimuth and staying on it. In Lesson 5 you also learned how to convert a Grid angle to a Magnetic Angle. When walking, you will stick to your magnetic azimuth to get to your point.

Before I get into the how, I'll explain the why of the technique so you understand how important accuracy is. Any, I repeat - ANY deviation is bad! there is always the deviation from a compass that will be there, most are only good within 3 degrees. And there is the fudge factor for human error and terrain. BUT you should do everything possible to stay on azimuth - be as anal about it as possible! In my experience this is where many novices screw up. Once you have done it a while and know some tricks and techniques, you can be more relaxed about a true bearing, but until you get to that level - don't try to be relaxed about your azimuth. As I covered at the end of Lesson 2, a small amount of deviation can make you miles of target - imagine being miles out of your way on foot, without trails!

So how do you stay on azimuth and what is the problems with trying to do it? Here are a couple of techniques.

If you are in an area of dense brush and trees where you can't see outside the forest, then the technique, although sometimes slow, is to go from tree to tree. Say we had determined our angle to be 315 degrees magnetic and we started walking from a point. The first thing to do is use the compass (center hold method preferably) and "shoot" an azimuth of 315 degrees and see if there is a tree in the path at that angle - there usually is. We walk to that point (while counting steps) and go to the opposite side of that tree and repeat using the compass to find the next tree. You will keep doing this until you reach the desired distance.

The problem that arises with this is not being totally anal about the tree you go to, especially when crossing draws. Any deviation you allow can compound itself. The problem is like this, if you allow yourself to be a degree off by selecting a tree not on your azimuth, or shooting your azimuth from the side of the tree instead of going around, that degree can become 2 degrees, then 3 etc each time you shoot it. Crossing low ground can also be a problem because there is a tendency to cross at the higher spot in a draw, this often makes novices drift at ever crossing of a draw. Again, not good!

If you can see terrain features a long way off, like in the desert, then the terrain features can be your guide. Use your compass to determine the azimuth (we will use the same example) and see what terrain feature like a mountain top, spur, saddle, etc. is in line, then walk to that feature counting your pace. Occasionally check your azimuth to see if you have drifted which is the biggest mistake made when using this technique. Most people tend to drift either right or left. Example: you shoot your 315 degree magnetic azimuth and a mountain top many miles away is in line to where you want to go, you decide it is your reference point and start walking towards it. A mile into your leg you check again and the mountain top is now at 325 degrees, the problem is you have drifted to the left. To fix the problem, move to your right until the mountain is back at 315 degrees, now you are back on the correct azimuth.

Problems with this technique normally arise when the hiker fails to check his/her azimuth regularly and drifts off course, or when the hiker checks their bearing and instead of realizing they have drifted, select a new reference point based on the new azimuth check.