How to Use a Military Style Sighting Compass

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For anyone who enjoys hiking or camping, it is always a good idea to have a map and compass in case of an emergency. However, just because you have a compass does not mean you know how to use one. Military compasses and those designed similarly are simple to use and can be found at many outdoors supplies or military surplus stores. There are two methods to using a military compass, the center hold technique or the more accurate compass-to-cheek technique.

Open the compass cover containing the sight to a vertical position, making it form a right angle with the dial portion of the compass.

Fold the rear sight forward toward the vertical compass cover aligning it with the sight slot in the cover.

Look through the rear sight, aligning it and the front sight slot with a distant object. Use a landmark, such as a mountain, power lines or a tall tree.

Look down at the azimuth on the compass dial while still holding the compass to your cheek.


  • This is the most accurate way to sight an azimuth with the compass. To follow an azimuth, use the center hold technique by holding the compass horizontal firmly to your chest.