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Improve your GPS and land navigation skills now

A GPS makes a nice addition, but NEVER take a GPS and depend on it for navigation without a map and compass.
600 400 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

Spring means more people will be getting outside and enjoying the weather and sunshine. Here are some GPS tips to help you get back!

By Blake Miller

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Now is the perfect time to practice and improve your Global Positioning System skills.  Spring hiking and camping and fishing trips offer excellent opportunities to get “dialed-in” with your receiver.

These are basic navigation tools: compass, emergency whistle, map and GPS. Learn how to use all of them!

GPS will get you back to the truck or help you return to your favorite spot.   It can also help you remember new favorite spots. Confident use of the receiver comes with practice and frequent use.

Here are some simple recommendations to try in the field.

  • Dump those old AA batteries, put in new ones, and replace them again in 4 months.  If you leave your GPS on all day in the field expect to change the batteries nightly.
  • Verify that you are receiving enough satellite signals.  Check this on the satellite status screen.  Four satellites are the minimum.
  • Keep your navigation simple.  It’s easier to work with a handful of waypoints rather than list of 300.   Delete the old waypoints, the ones you will never use again.  Log important waypoints (e.g., the elk wallow) on your PC or in a notebook.  Visit www.easygps.com or www.garmin.com for a place to store waypoints.
  • Give key waypoints names.  Enter names like “camp” and “truck.”  It’s easier and more meaningful to find “truck” in the list of waypoints than is waypoint 542; or was it 245.
  • Verify all waypoints saved by either checking on your map page or in your waypoint file (select “go to” or “find.”)
  • When its time to return to a destination chose “GO TO” or “Find” on your keypad or menu.  Select the waypoint from the list provided.  Press the “Page” button and rotate through the many displays to the “Compass” page.  With a “GO TO” selected, a large arrow should appear on the face of the compass.  As you move towards your destination the arrow will shift, causing you to adjust your course.  When you are on course the arrow points to the top center of your receiver.
  • Compliment GPS skills with a good review of map and compass fundamentals. Suunto M-3DL Compass
    Learn to back up electronic A map and compass (and emergency whistle) should go on every outing, regardless if you take along a GPS or not.

    position fixing with compass bearing triangulation. (Leon‘s  editor note: And always take a map and compass along, no matter how good you are with a GPS!!!) In the worst case scenerio, a broken GPS becomes a paper weight for your map while afield.

About Blake Miller:

Blake Miller

Blake Miller has made a career out of staying found and knowing where he is at all times. His formal navigation training began when he joined the U.S. Navy in 1973.  He served as an officer aboard several Navy ships over his  twenty-year career; many of those tours included the duty of Navigator.

Blake began working with satellite navigation systems at sea in 1976, culminating with the then-new Global Positioning Systems aboard the Battleship WISCONSIN in early 1990.

In 1998 Blake started Outdoor Quest, a business dedicated to backcountry navigation and wilderness survival.  Blake has taught classes to wild land firefighters, state agency staffs, Search and Rescue team members, hunters, hikers, skiers, fishermen and equestrians.   He regularly teaches classes through the Community Education programs at Central Oregon (Bend) and Chemeketa (Salem, OR) Community Colleges.

As a volunteer, Blake teaches navigation and survival classes through the Becoming an Outdoor Woman (B0W) program, to students in the local school district, and conservation groups.  He is a member of a Search and Rescue team.

Contact Information:

Phone: 541 280 0573

Email: outdrquest@aol.com

Web: www.outdoorquest.biz


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