Learn how to use the lensatic compass used by the US Military. Plotting a bearing on a map using a round lensatic compass. Sighting the bearing. To determine our location we are going to combine two pieces of information. Use a compass to explore, navigate, map terrain and travel around the Engineers, the engineer compass is also called a lensatic compass.

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You need to write things down, draw lines, perform math, and make sure you do so with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Refer back to this “reality check” occasionally during plotting to make sure what you are doing makes sense.

Lensatic Compass Guide

So the tritium will continue emitting “light” for quite a long time before it goes completely dark. Open the engineer compass until the cover is 90 degrees to the compass case. You can use this feature to set your compass in the dark. Do not move your head, but raise and lower your eyes when taking the azimuth using an engineer compass. One advantage is it’s probably more accurate when it comes to “shooting azimuths,” meaning the act of determining the specific compass direction to a spot on the earth.

The older the map, the more likely the declination shown in the diagram is no longer correct. Next we’re going to talk about some of the uses of a lensatic compass, starting with the resection. A lensatic compass, also called a military compass, is a more advanced and useful version of a magnetic compass. There’s a better way, I believe, from both a time and an accuracy standpoint.

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How to Use the Engineer Compass. Extend your other index finger alongside the compass body and wrap the fingers of that hand around the fingers of your first hand. Lensaatic your known location on the map, you take your protractor, line it up to true north, find the angle to your next point, adjust for declination, and then shoot that angle with your compass.


Using a protractor aligned with either True or Grid North depending on what the magnetic declination you are given is referenced tomake a mark on the map at the desired value. In addition to degrees lensativ measure directions in a circle, the military also uses 6, mils.

We know that we are somewhere along the shoreline of the lake. The normal method to transfer angles from your lensatic compass to your map and compasw is with a protractor and a pencil. You now have your target’s bearing. At night, however, or in other periods of limited visibility fog, blizzard, etc keeping these two luminous bits lined up will be your only remedy.

According to United States Army Corps of Engineers, the engineer compass is also called a lensatic compass. Putting the two in a opaque bag or enclosure is effective as well. Open the compass completely and hold it level in front of you.

How to Use a Lensatic Military Compass – Navigate Safely in the Wild

In the last article we talked about declination, and how magnetic north and true north will vary depending on location and surrounding features.

From here it’s simple. After reading those two articles anyone should be able to go out and perform basic land navigation with a map and lensatic compass.

Whenever the luminous magnetic arrow lines up with the luminous short line, you’re following your intended azimuth.

Two parts of this line include the sighting wire, which you can align with things that are visible on the map, and the center of the rotating compass card. That way you skip the math, the protractor, the lines, and get it all done quicker.


The bezel clicks as it moves–three degrees for every click. Your compass is now set. Let’s say you see a water tower off in the distance. At that point you know what direction you need to ro to get to your next stop, and if you pair that with an accurate distance you’ll be on your way in no time.

To do this we need to establish an accurate Magnetic North reference line on the map. Holding the compass up to your face, angle the rear sight so that you can read the compass dial clearly through the lens while peering through the sighting slot and lining your distant target the water tower, co,pass this case up with the sighting wire.

Now your map’s true north is lined up to your local magnetic north, and you’ve just completely circumvented the whole problem of declination also removing a potential source of error since declination changes with time. All you do is take you compass and line it up from your current point to your desired destination and look at the compass reading.

The usual precautions about magnetic objects in the vicinity of the compass should be taken. Hold the compass with your thumb fully in the thumb ring, and your index finger wrapped around and gripping the circular part of the underneath of the compass’s base.

The location we sighted the bearing to the cabin is where the back bearing intersects the hod shore.

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