Rodger Morris (rlm@SUNED1.NSWSES.NAVY.MIL)
Thu, 29 Sep 1994 11:40:05 PDT
>> The next issue is the onslaught of handheld GPS receivers - why bother
>> learning how to use the compass and map when the GPS will tell you exactly
>> where you are?
You learn map and compass for the same reasons that you learn to add,
subtract, multiply and divide in an age of $5 hand-held calculators.
Steve Salyard replied:
>As a specialist in GPS I can tell you a lot of stories about times
>I wished that operators had some basic map and compass skills. The
>Although GPS is nice, and a little unit can tell you where you are,
>it does have its limitations, particularly in the way of batteries.
>Also, using a direct line from GPS may be ok in the desert, but with
>vegitation around, I would rather shoot a line with a compass and
>have a better feel for the ground truth I will be walking around.
>Technology will improve, but a good background can still reduce your
I was once an overwater navigator in the U.S. Navy crewing C-130 Hercules
aircraft. Technology is wonderful, _PROVIDED_ that you use it as a tool,
rather than as a crutch. If the batteries fail on your GPS system, or the
system itself breaks down, it would be well for you to know elementary
ground navigation skills and be able to use them effectively in the field.
In the Navy, we use VOR, TACAN, LORAN C, Omega, GPS, inertial navigation and
radar in navigating aircraft. However, plotting a deduced reckoning position
prior to taking a positional fix is still required. So is taking a celestial
line of position at every hourly fix. The skills involved in the latter two
activities are complex enough that one needs to practice them on a regular
basis. They are like first aid or aquatics lifesaving skills, in that you
don't need to use them very often, but that when you _do_ need them, lives
may depend upon your knowing and being able to apply them.
That aside, land navigation is the sort of finicky, detail-intensive sort of
activity that can really drive home to a Scout the need for attention to detail.
Yours in Scouting,
Rodger Morris, email@example.com
Scoutmaster, Troop 852, Ventura County Council, BSA
National Woodbadge 416, Philmont, 1973
"I used to be a Beaver..."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City