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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The term ” lensatic compass ” is is used most frequently in the military, and only in reference to one specific model of compass.

Plotting a bearing on a map using a round lensatic compass

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 on our map. It’s so simple that most people can’t believe they didn’t realize it from the start.

A lensatic compass is one with a magnifying lens on the sight. 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.

Newer Post Older Post Home. 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.

To do this we need to establish an accurate Magnetic North reference line on the map. The degrees are in red, and are the ring’s inner measurements.

Lensatic Compasses

Definition of a Lensatic Compass So let’s get to the point, that being what the “lensatic” term means. Use the illustration above to familiarize yourself with the components of a lensatic compass.


The older the map, the more likely the declination shown in the diagram is no longer correct. While speed is important in many tactical situations, a lensatic compass is not necessarily designed for speed.

To use your lensatic compass to find the direction of your intended azimuth which you probably got from your map, using your protractor:.

It’s important to hold your compass stable, squarely in front lenastic you, and level. There are several different types of hand held compasses that are designed for specific uses, and a lensatic compass is only one of them. Pay particular attention to the surface your are working on.

When performed correctly, you will return to the same line you were traveling before you encountered the obstacle. 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 lenzatic the sighting slot and lining your distant target the water tower, in this case up with the sighting wire.

Or make a permanent scratch mark, paint line, or permanent marker line on each lenswtic. The location we sighted the lensahic to the cabin is where the back bearing intersects the lake shore. 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.

Rough direction to the cabin. Proceed to that target.

Lensatic Compass Guide: What is a Lensatic Compass?

Refer back to this “reality check” occasionally during plotting to make sure what you are doing makes sense. Looking at the photo below, let’s say you’re at the north end of Sheeler Lake, where the penciled X is. The north reference is coompass integral part of any bearing.


Hold it square and straight in front of you like you mean business. An orienteering compass, for example, is designed for ease of use when taking a bearing from a map and heading off at full speed to the next point on a course. Want a free ebook on Land Navigation?

In your case, however, your declination is degrees West, meaning you’ll have to add degrees before you set your compass. Going back full lehsatic to the specific purposes that compasses are built for, we realize that a military compass would be used fairly frequently to take sightings.

Some compasses can be adjusted to include declination, so after adjustment, a reading of 0 degrees would point at true north.

The bezel clicks as it moves–three degrees for every click. An orienteer a copass one, anyway doens’t need to do this very often. 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. Then turn the azimuth to the other direction 90 degrees left, in this case lenatic, and move the exact same distance as when you deviated from your original path.

But not to you, I trust. Whenever the luminous magnetic arrow lines up with the luminous short line, you’re following your intended azimuth.

You may be tempted to use the MN line on the declination diagram, but be careful. For more information on forward and back bearings, see our tutorial on forward and back bearings. We can abbreviate to either mils Mag.