A compass can be used in many ways, from telling which way is North to finding hidden treasure or following an unmarked path over wilderness terrain.

There are four cardinal points on a compass - North, South, East, and West. Beside these, a compass has four intercardinal points, and eight secondary intercardinal points.
Since there IS a need for more precise directions, the circle of a compass face is split into 360 marks called degrees.

How to Read a Compass

  1. Hold your compass steadily in your hand so the baseplate is level and the direction-of-travel arrow is pointing straight away from you.
  2. Hold it about halfway between your face and waist in a comfortable arm position with your elbow bent and compass held close to your stomach.
  3. Look down at the compass and see where the needle points.
  4. Compass pointing North
  5. Turn your body while keeping the compass in front of you.
  6. Notice that as the compass rotates, the needle stays pointing the same direction.
  7. Keep turning until the needle points to East on the compass like the picture below, keeping the direction-of-travel arrow and North mark facing straight in front of you.
  8. Compass pointing East
  9. To find my direction, I must turn the compass dial until the North mark and the "Orienting Arrow" are lined up with the North end of the needle. Then I can read the heading that is at the Index Pointer spot (the butt of the direction-of-travel arrow).
    Since the Orienting Arrow is usually two parallel lines on the floor of the compass housing, a good thing to memorize is: "RED IN THE SHED". Now we know we are really heading West (270 degrees). Compass pointing West