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Land Nav Task 14 - Determine Direction without a Compass

Standards: Identified north and east within 15 degrees.

During daylight and at night (with a clear
view of the Big Dipper), given a wristwatch
(not digital), the soldier must determine
direction in a field environment with
natural vegetation available.

Identified north and east within 15 degrees.

All of the procedures given in this task
give approximate directions. For accurate
directions, a compass must be used.


Performance Steps

Determine direction using the
shadow-tip method.

Place a stick or branch into
the ground vertically at a fairly
level spot where the sun will cast a
distinct shadow. Mark the shadow with
a stone, twig, or other means (figure

Figure C-40.
First shadow-tip mark

Wait 10 or 15 minutes until the
shadow tip moves a few inches. Mark
the new position of the shadow tip as
in step 1a (figure C-41).

Figure C-41.
Second shadow-tip mark

Draw a straight line through
the two marks you made on the shadow
tips. This line is an east-west line
(figure C-42).

Figure C-42.
East-west line

Determine which is the east end
of the line and which is the west end.

The sun rises in the east and
sets in the west.

The first shadow tip you mark
is always west and the second mark is
always east.

The shadow tip moves in the
opposite direction.

Determine north and south. Draw
a line at a right angle to the
east-west line at any point (figure
C-43). This is the north-south line.

Figure C-43.
North-south line

Determine direction using the
watch method without a compass.

Point the hour hand at the sun
when you are north of the equator.
South will be halfway between the hour
hand and 12 o’clock (figure C-44).

Figure C-44.
Watch method

Point 12 o’clock at the sun
when you are south of the equator.
North will be halfway between the hour
hand and 12 o’clock.

Use the North Star method to
determine direction at night. At
night, you can locate north by finding
the North Star (Polaris). First, find
the Big Dipper. The last two stars in
the cup point directly at Polaris,
which is about five times as far out
as the distance between those two
stars in the cup. Facing Polaris, you
are looking north, with east on your
right and west on your left (figure

Figure C-45.
North Star method

Note. During the training session, stress these four facts:
1. The sun rises in the east and sets
in the west.
2. When you face north, east is to
your right, west is to your left, and
south is to your back.
3. The Big Dipper is a pattern of
stars that resembles a soup ladle.
4. The Southern Cross is the main
constellation used as a guide south of
the equator and the above general
directions for using north and south
stars are reversed.


Directionally orient yourself to an area
that is unfamiliar to the soldier to be

Soldier: Accompany the soldier to the
area and tell the soldier to use the
field-expedient methods to determine which
direction is north and east. Use a compass
direction of your choice. Do not tell the
soldier how he or she did on performance
measure 1 until he or she completes
performance measure 2.

Before the soldier is scored a GO for this
task, he or she must display proficiency in
all three field-expedient methods of
determining direction without a compass.
However, performance measure 3 must be
tested in a different location.





Determined direction using the
shadow-tip field-expedient method

Placed a stick vertically into
the ground at a desired spot.



Marked the tip of the stick’s
shadow to represent west.



Waited 10 to 15 minutes.



Marked a new position of the
tip of the stick’s shadow to represent



Drew an east-west line through
the two shadow-tip marks.



Drew a north-south line at a
right angle to the east-west line.



Pointed in the required
direction within 15 degrees.



Determined direction using the
watch field-expedient method.

In the Northern Hemisphere,
pointed the hour hand of the watch at
the sun; in the Southern Hemisphere,
pointed the 12 o’clock position of the
watch at the sun.



Pointed in the required
direction within 15 degrees.



Determined direction using the
North Star field-expedient method.

Located the Big Dipper.



Located Polaris, the North



Pointed in the required
direction within 15 degrees.



Score the soldier GO if all
performance measures are passed. Score the
soldier NO GO if any performance measure is
failed. If the soldier scores NO GO, show
the soldier what was done wrong and how to
do it correctly.









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