So, you’ve volunteered to be in Special Forces and you’re getting ready to go to SFAS. This is the time to prepare yourself for the grind that is to come. There are certain tips, such as the PT program which will help you attain the level of physical fitness that you’ll need to not just pass the course but to excel where the course isn’t as tough as you’ll see other people struggling.

Now, we get to the elephant in the room, the Land Navigation course and many students fail at either SFAS or the SFQC because they failed the land navigation course. The course is tough, it is the toughest individual land navigation course you’ll find in the US military.

In previous segments, we touched on Map reading, pace count, orienting the map and plotting your starting location as well as your point. Now we need to get to our points. Here are some of the tips for walking the course in the Hoffman area.

Fold Your Map – Sounds like a no-brainer but it is simple and saves a ton of time without having to unfold your map every time you want to make a map check. Fold it down to where it fits perfectly in your map case so that only the part you are traveling shows, it simplifies your task immeasurably. This way every time you make a quick check of the map, only where you are and where you are going next is visible.

A technique that many orienteers use while navigating is what they call thumbing. I’ve talked to some and what they do is to keep their thumb on the spot on the map where they are and it speeds in finding where you are while walking and doing a quick map check. The thought being as you walk along you move your thumb slightly forward to reduce the confusion of scanning for your location on the map, especially in the dark.

Navigating Techniques – So, you’ve plotted your starting location, your first point that you’re looking for. You’ve folded the map and placed it and your protractor carefully inside your map case. The next thing you must do orient the map into the direction that you are traveling. Now the terrain is laid out exactly the way it is in front of you.

Weapon tied down? Check. Compass tied down and easily accessible? Check. You should have a red lens flashlight a notebook that will allow you to write in it, even if it is wet in your pocket or map case. Ensure you have all of your gear and do a quick check of the area before you leave and don’t forget anything.