Resources for Instructors

I have been teaching wilderness navigation and GPS use for more than a decade. Here are some of the exercises and presentation materials that you may find useful when you teach. You are welcome to modify these material to suite the need of your class and your teaching style. I have put a huge amount of effort in these resources over the years, thus I ask the following.

  • Please don't redistribute for profit.
  • Please share your improvements with me.
  • Please don't ask me to make changes for you.
  • Please point your students to my web site,, for their coordinate plotting needs.

I teach a Wilderness Navigation Class at West Valley College for the Parks Management Department. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area this is a great way to learn or improve on your navigation skills.

HandoutDude The "Handout Dude"

You will occasionally see the "Handout Dude" in my slides. He serves as my reminder that its time to hand out materials.

I use Apple's Keynote to build my presentations. I'm also including versions exported for Microsoft Power Point and as Adobe pdfs. The Power Point export feature is not 100% perfect. If in doubt about what the slide should look like, see the pdf version.

Using a Compass

North Reference

Teaching folks about the different North References, when to use them, and how to convert between them has been one of my more difficult problems. A lot of students come in with lots of confusion and sometimes even incorrect information on this topic. I've put a lot of thought into how to teach this, and tried many different techniques.

You can get an overview of how I teach the topic from the online tutorial. Last year one of our printing jobs had a bit of extra space running through the press. I turned this into a 4 page, half sheet handout on North References. I will send you one for free with your order if you wish. Or you can download the pdf file and take a look. If you want to use the handout for your class, I have a 25 pack of them available for less than it would cost you to print them on your own printer.

Item description Quantity Price Quantity
North Reference Sheet
Part Id: NorthRefSheet, Made in United States

Sighting a Bearing

  • Lecture Slides - SightingABearing key ppt pdf

Plotting Bearings

Locating the Smoke - Using Intersecting Bearings to Locate an Unknown Point

This is a short stand alone lecture and exercise on location by intersecting bearings. It works particularly well when your students are involved in wildland firefighting or forestry.

Location by Plotting Bearing from your GPS

This is a "location by resectioning" technique where the bearing comes from a GPS instead of a compass sighting. It's useful when you are working on a map that does not have a coordinate grid.

Location by Triangulation [old]

Topic now covered in the Plotting A Bearing section. I still use the exercise.

Older Material

UTM Intro
The basics for using UTM coordinates


Using USGS Maps


Lat Lon Intro




GPS Intro


How GPS Works


UTM Details


Using A Compass


Public Land Survey System