You are hereBasic Land Navigation / Measure a Bearing
Measure a Bearing
A protractor or compass can be used to measure a map bearing; a protractor is easier to use and more accurate than a compass. There are different types of protractors, but a common one is made out of flat clear plastic and is in the shape of a semi-circle with degree marks.
Using a Protractor to Measure a Bearing on a Map
Steps to measure a bearing on a map using a protractor
- Center the protractor over the starting point and orient 0° with true north (the 0° line needs to be parallel with the edge of the map).
- Draw a line on the map from the starting point towards the destination. If you don't want to draw a line of your map, align a string or ruler with the start point and destination point.
- Read the bearing where the line, string or ruler intersects the protractor. This is the direction of travel to your destination.
- Before using this bearing in the field, adjust the compass for declination.
Measuring a bearing with a protractor
Using a Compass to Measure a Bearing on a Map
Steps to measuring a magnetic bearing on a map using a compass
- Adjust the compass for map declination. Disregard the magnetic needle.
- Place the compass on the map, where one edge of the base plate touches both the start point and destination point. The direction-of-travel arrow needs to point toward the direction of the destination.
- Turn the compass housing so that the orienting arrow points to true north, parallel to map edge and longitude lines.
- Read bearing at the index line. This is the direction in degrees of the magnetic bearing.
Measuring a bearing with a compass where the edge of the base plate touches both the start point