Land to Map Bearing

Land to Map Bearing


Use a land to map, or sighted bearing, when you need to know or confirm your location


Land to Map Bearing 

Land to Map Bearing (or Sighted Bearings)



This type of bearing is used to find or confirm your position on a map by known feature(s) you can see on the landscape.

Ordinarily you would use this technique when you have clear visibility of a land feature that you can identify on a map. However, there are times when you would use this technique in times of poor visibility when you are actually uncertain of the feature against which you are taking a bearing. Such techniques are covered later in this section.

The number of bearings you need to take will depend on the degree to which you need to confirm your location, and further techniques around this area will be covered later in this section.


Key Steps for any Land to Map Bearings


Stage 1 - calculate the bearing

  • current position not known or needs to be confirmed
  • position of a landmark, or distinctive map feature(s) is know
  • check that there are no objects to cause magnetic interference Nav-Magnetic-Interference.aspx 
  • hold compass in correct position Nav-Holding-Compass-Correctly.aspx 
  • line-up land feature with direction of travel arrow pointing directly at the know feature
  • turn compass housing/bezel so that red needle is inside the orienting arrow of the compass housing
  • double check that direction or travel arrow is pointing to feature and that red needle is in orienting arrow
  • make a mental note of the number of degrees shown against the index mark of the compass
  • account for magnetic variation by subtracting the appropriate value* of degrees to the value at the index mark – you now have a grid bearing
* the appropriate value depends on your location - see magnetic variation.


Stage 2 – using the bearing

  • where practical, place your map on a flat surface, or kneel down on one knee using the other thigh on which to rest the map
  • place the compass onto the map
  • line-up the edge of t he compass base plate so that it touches the land feature against which you just took a sighted bearing
  • keeping the edge of the compass on the identified feature, rotate the map so that one of the orienting lines of the compass housing line-up with one of the vertical grid lines of the map
  • ensure that the orienting arrow is pointing to the top (north) of the map
  • draw a line on the map from the identified feature
  • your position is somewhere along that feature


Examples of Land to Map Bearing

Click here for step by step examples on sighting a bearing and plotting back on your map for a line feature


Additional Application using Land to Map Bearings