In previous articles, we’ve touched on the different aspects of land navigation. We’ve gotten a few questions and comments about night navigation which is the hardest part of land navigation because all your skills will be tested to the max in the hours of darkness.

Rather than re-hashing the entire Land Navigation series of articles, we’ll hit upon the high points and get across the rough patches that you’ll need to cross to get a first time go at night navigation. While I’ll be speaking in generalities about the Star Navigation course in Hoffman that is used by SFAS, these tips will help you in any Selection Land Navigation course.

Securing Your Gear: Sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? I mean, you want to be in Special Operations and you’re here in Selection and this guy is writing that I have to tie down my gear like a noob? Yep. Most definitely. Every class that I was a cadre member for in SFAS had candidates losing maps, protractors, compasses etc. I can tell you that things haven’t changed that much out there. The Hoffman draws will feed on your gear. Tie everything down. And that includes your weapon.

Get a good smaller map case, preferably one with a lanyard and tie it to your gear and then stuff it into your shirt. You don’t need one of those huge ones that the mech guys used to be so fond of. Fold up your map so that the terrain you’re walking in is the only part showing. It makes it much easier to find where you are.

I can’t stress this enough; tie everything down, you think it is embarrassing tying all of your equipment down like a boot? Trust me you don’t want to be the red-faced candidate who has to tell the cadre members that he’s lost his map or compass.

Pace Count: Knowing your pace is very important, and even more so in the dark. What is your pace count with just your web gear? How different is it with a rucksack on? Your pace count will vary between day and night and it will increase as you tire.  And depending on the type of terrain that you are operating in.

In time, you’ll become a seasoned pro at this and will know just by the conditions that you are dealing with what your pace count will be. And it will change over time. My pace with just web gear on flat terrain was 62 back in the days of Phase 1 at Camp Mackall.

But with a rucksack and a heavy load, it went up to 73. But I noticed after I had been in Group for a while and your rucksack becomes a part of you, my pace counted lessened to between 68-69 depending on conditions. You’ll find that you will have similar results.