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Briar Patch Outdoors

Land Navigation - Part One

by Keith A. "Bootlegger" Williams

"Expert skier lost five days in North Cascades without Essentials, map and compass- For the first two days after skiing down the wrong side of a ridge on New Year's Eve and becoming lost, he kept a clear head and kept moving, stopping only for short breaks. When he did stop, he stripped the bark off of trees to lie down on, still never letting himself sleep, he said. He had a parka, a helmet, goggles, ski pants, long johns, a T-shirt and a fleece, but no survival gear."

This was an article from a Seattle newspaper back in 2004. Although it is tragic, it is far from an isolated incident, as every year there are scores of people who get into some seriously life threatening situations, due to getting themselves lost while involved in some sort of outdoor activity. I have witnessed this on several occasions, and let me tell you that it is just as prevalent in the law enforcement community, as it is in the civilian sector.

I had originally written this with Law Enforcement Officers in mind so it is written from that point of view but also can be applied to most any sector. Though one tends to think of an officer assigned to a search party as being well trained and dedicated in all aspects of Land Navigation, Man tracking, and Search techniques, often it is the everyday staff that are drafted into such service. For some, this is completely unfamiliar territory, and for others, they often concentrate so intently on apprehending a fugitive, that they donít pay close enough attention to where they are going, and end up not knowing exactly where they are. At very least, this can be embarrassing, and has the potential of becoming a life threatening scenario. No matter how it eventually plays out, you usually end up reassigning valuable manpower in an attempt to locate them. Many of these instances can be avoided if the participants are proficient with even the most basic skills of Land Navigation. Although I donít claim to be an expert on the subject, or plan to teach you every aspect of the craft, Iíd like to take a few moments to give you a little insight into this valuable skill.

ON TO PART 2 - Land Navigation



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Durand MI 48429
(989) 288-0168

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