How to Determine Direction

Page 4


Another field expedient method used to determine direction is the "shadow stick" method. This method is fairly accurate, but can only be used on sunny or partly cloudy days, as (as the name implies) you must be able to cast a shadow.


  1. Take a stick approximately 3 feet in length and stick it into the ground so that it points straight up. 

  2. Mark the location of the tip of the shadow produced by the stick with a small rock. 

  3. Wait anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes and mark a second location of the tip of the shadow with a second rock.

  4. Draw a line on the ground connecting the first rock with the second rock and continue that line for about another three feet. The direction you are drawing that line is east, so at the end of the line you drew, mark that with an "E." 

  5. The other end of this line (at the location of the first rock) is pointing west, so mark it with a "W."

  6. Now, stand at the west end of the line and look east. Raise your left arm and it will be pointing north. Raising your right arm will point south. 


Shadow Tip2.jpg (16977 bytes)


This method is actually more accurate than the sunrise-sunset method, as it is showing true east and west. Also, you can do it anytime the sun is shining. It does take some time to do, because the sun has to move a certain distance to get an accurate reading. In fact, the longer you wait, the more accurate it is. 


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