Our LandNav Essentials Course this past weekend went well. Here’s an AAR from one of the students. I don’t post many AAR’s (they are for me to use to help improve the class, not to try and impress the readership here) but this was the first dedicated two days of “LandNav Only” class, and is the reason for posting this AAR. I always posted AAR’s when I first started the MDT blog 4 years ago, to show what I offered, and I still always post at least one AAR from each new class that is developed.
Terrain : Appalachian mountainous, heavily wooded, and rocky.
Weather: cooler high 20- to low 40s. Dress appropriately but not problem once moving. Summer bring bug juice and be.prepared to do tick checks on a regular basis. No issue in this class.
Physical condition : You have to be able to walk over longer distances with heavy terrain including up and down some steep grades. There is a lot of rocky terrain so good boots with ankle support is a must. If you have respiratory, cardiac, or are morbidly obese this course will be very difficult for you.
What I learned:
I learned the parts of the lensatic and base plate compass. We learned how to read the standard 1:25000 military style maps. JC preferred this style of map and I found it easy to work with. We learned how to use Eastings and Northing grid coordinates. How to find areas on a map and how to assign grid coordinates to features on the map. We also became adept at using the protractor for azimuths, distances, and locations. The heavy forest (even without the leaf cover) made targeting specific longer range features difficult so we had to follow our compass azimuths more closely as compared to more open ground where it is often possible to target distant features. This forced us to rely on the compass. (NOT A BAD THING IN A COMPASS COURSE).
We learned how to plot out azimuths, estimate meters on the maps, and plan our courses. We also learned to use ranger pace counting beads. All invaluable skills with JC being right there to answer all our questions as they arose. We also learned how to address declination largely focusing on “grid North”.
Saturday morning was instruction and the afternoon was spent walking assigned courses using grids coordinates as teams. JC would walk with us and comment, correct as needed.
Each coordinates was checked by JC for accuracy. We did coordinates drills into the early evening until JC was sure we had the concepts down solid.
Sunday morning was more review
Then we we given coordinates, that we plotted, found azimuths, estimated distances and we went out as a team. We learned to also recognize physical features (terrain association) and find them on the map. This really helped when we missed a target site, or questioned whether we went too far, or not far enough. We saw how varied terrain will affect pace counts.
Finally, for our final solos we were given general areas from our known location using general directions i.e ” feature SSW or East etc.
We then had to identify the feature on the map, plot the coordinates, find the various azimuths, estimate distances and draw these course areas on a map to create pentagonal courses that were approaching 2 kilometers in total distance over a variety of terrain. These were all checked by JC before allowing us to do our “solos”.
We had safety plans worked out for problems or injuries as the terrain was heavily wooded and there were plenty of rocks and undergrowth to tangle one’s feet. We had comms with JC if we needed it and he would track us on his map based on any features we provided if necessary. We also had GPS to check out coordinates and as a back up. Lastly, JC built in geographic “handrails” to assist us with locations.
BOTTOM LINE: Excellent course! GET SOME!
Answered most of my spoken and unspoken questions. While a lensatic is great for taking a bearing day or night ( with tritium inserts). Nothing beats a baseplate compass with a declination adjustment screw for daylight navigation. Really simplifies things.
Great class and great students. No injuries (always a concern), and by the time the students performed their solo trek, they were capable of plotting and giving an eight digit grid location of their position via radio if hurt or incapable of continuing (a primary reason for knowing how to LandNav in the first place). The class timeline started at 0730hrs on Saturday and continued till 1700hrs. Sunday continued the class from 0800 to 1400hrs. so everyone who drove any distance (furthest was 3.5 hours away) had time to get home at a decent hour. Class cost is $250 per student.