At first glance, the lensatic compass can seem a bit daunting. Covered in various markings and with multiple moving parts, it looks as though it. Learn how to use the lensatic compass used by the US Military. I have half a dozen navigation apps on my phone, so I rarely get lost! But phones have several major weaknesses: battery life and signal reception. Both of those.

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Close is good enough in horsehoes, but I’m hoping exact is the standard for artillery fire. Though such a simple device has been around for about a thousand years, compasses have not lost their utility.

Make a mark with your pencil at the notch on the end furthest from the sighting wire. To do this we need to establish an accurate Magnetic North reference line on the map.

Lensatic Compasses

Making sure you don’t move to change directions, turn the glass compass housing until the short luminous line is directly lined up with the luminous magnetic arrow. This is known as a back bearing.

To determine our location we are going to combine two pieces of information on our map. How to Hold a Lensatic Compass. Most people assume that lensatic compass is the “proper” term for all hand-held compasses, but that it not the case. Hold the compass steady and level, and up to your face. Put that hand up to the compass, steadying the compass by placing your index finger along the compass’s side, and wrapping your thumb between the bezel ring and the rear sight.


Using your protractor or other straight edge, you draw a line from your current position in the direction of where you want to go. Start by putting your thumb through the thumb loop and putting your index finger alongside the compass, similar to the cheek method.

Lensatic Compasses

Whether laying in artillery, taking a sighting to a target, or performing a resection to figure out how far you’re off course, the lensatic compass excels at sightings and accuracy. The declination diagram may not be drawn with an accurate angle, or the angle may not represent the current declination. Make sure you include it when you say or write a bearing. Be sure you understand magnetic declination. Extend your other index finger alongside the compass body and wrap the fingers of that hand around the fingers of your first hand.

When we plot the bearing on our map, our location will be where the line between our location and the cabin crosses the shoreline of the lake.

An orienteer a good one, anyway doens’t need to do this very often. We can abbreviate to either mils Mag. To find directions from your map, you’re going to need a protractor, a special instrument used for measuring angles.

Like any skillit is good to practice navigating with a lensatic compass before your life depends on it. The cover protects the compass from damage and also contains a wire stretched from top to bottom.

As long as you can hold the compass level and steady, the exact grip doesn’t matter. The bezel clicks as it moves–three degrees for every click. You may be tempted to use the MN line on the declination diagram, but be careful. You don’t want to hold it crooked, cockeyed, or off level.

Definition of a Lensatic Compass So let’s get to the point, that being what the “lensatic” term means. Get your own customized topographical maps, built according to your specifications.


Plotting a bearing on a map using a round lensatic compass

Going back full circle to the specific purposes that compasses are built for, we realize that a military compass would be used fairly frequently to take sightings. Keep doing this until you get to where you want to go.

Generally once you have drawn your own Magnetic North line, you will not need to do this again on this map sheet for many years. Mark the position of the notches to be with a pencil.

Use the illustration above to familiarize yourself with the components compaass a lensatic compass. Let’s say you see a water tower off in the distance. In our example at the lake, our cabin is NE of our current location. To use your lensatic compass to find the direction of your intended azimuth which you probably got from your map, using your protractor:.

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, in this case up with the sighting wire. The mils compasx in black, and are the outer measurements on the ring. Unless you are stranded on a deserted islandknowing how to lnsatic a compass just may save your life! lensatix