Navigation Equipment and Methods - Compass Handling


9­3. COMPASS HANDLING

Compasses are delicate instruments and should be cared for accordingly.

a. Inspection. A detailed inspection is required when first obtaining and using a compass. One of the most important parts to check is the floating dial, which contains the magnetic needle. The user must also make sure the sighting wire is straight, the glass and crystal parts are not broken, the numbers on the dial are readable, and most important, that the dial does not stick.

b. Effects of Metal and Electricity. Metal objects and electrical sources can affect the performance of a compass. However, nonmagnetic metals and alloys do not affect compass readings. The following separation distances are suggested to ensure proper functioning of a compass:


High­tension power lines……………………………….55 meters.
Field gun, truck, or tank ....…………………………….18 meters.

Telegraph or telephone wires
and barbed wire………..………………………………10 meters.

Machine gun……………………………………………..2 meters.

Steel helmet or rifle………………………………………1/2 meter.

c. Accuracy. A compass in good working condition is very accurate. However, a compass has to be checked periodically on a known line of direction, such as a surveyed azimuth using a declination station. Compasses with more than 3°+ variation should not be used.

d. Protection. If traveling with the compass unfolded, make sure the rear sight is fully folded down onto the bezel ring. This will lock the floating dial and prevent vibration, as well as protect the crystal and rear sight from damage.