Note: This is a three part series applying the simple basics of compass use to enhancing your skills in the woods and to guide us away from what I am calling “Bushcraft Butthurt”. Part 1 addresses this on the individual level. Part 2 addresses this on a group/school level, and part 3 addresses this on a much higher level.
The word butthurt doesn’t make it to Webster’s Dictionary, but it certainly is part of the Urban Dictionary. If you are new to this term, butthurt means an excessive or unjustifiable feeling of personal offense or resentment. I am writing this three part series to address some issues that are common in the survival/bushcraft community that I feel are bringing it down and to offer some ideas on how to overcome them for the betterment of us as individuals, the community at large, and possibly even on a much larger scale.
For my purposes here I will use my favorite baseplate compass, the Suunto MC-2, as an example (see photo and watch video below). On any baseplaste compass, you have three arrows that are vitally important for use in proper and safe land navigation.
The North arrow, is inside the housing that points in one direction. That direction is magnetic North. On my compass, and most others, this arrow is solid
red and resembles the outline of the Washington monument. If you hold your compass level and move around with it, this arrow will point North.
- The Direction of Travel arrow is most commonly found on the base of the compass itself. It should always be pointing away from you. As it’s name implies, this arrow points the direction you intend on traveling. This may be towards a known location you are trying to go to, but could also simply give the user the direction they need to travel to an unknown area, around an obstacle, or something similar.
- The Orienting arrow, is the one also inside the bezel and rotates when the user changes the angle to reflect it’s use with a known angle of measurement.
Here is how I want to apply these arrows, albeit metaphorically, to guide us as individuals away from having Bushcraft Butthurt.
- Left up to its own and without any outside influence, the North arrow will point towards magnetic North. On the individual level this relates to our foundation of character, which leads us to achieving our goals. Loyalty, integrity, sincerity, charity, honor, bravery, and courtesy are values that are often spoke of as being positive character traits. As we move through our training on an individual basis in bushcraft/survival/fieldcraft we must have a foundation of character that includes these and others. If it remains a constant in our lives then our “way” will always point in the right direction.
- The Direction of Travel, helps us have that direction in our training. We may be able to see our goal “out there” somewhere. Whether it be someone that we want to emulate, a project we want to complete, or even a skill that we simply want to pursue for the sake of nothing more than pursuing it. There are only a handful of people that actually live these skills in daily life. Here is pro-tip for you. You wont find them on social media, TV, or similar. They are too busy out doing work. (The late Dick Proenneke comes to mind). Bushcraft in my estimation is a wonderful hobby, it can provide a wonderful “escape” from daily routines so that we can set goals for ourselves as individuals and go out and achieve those goals. We can also do this through practice and discussion with like minded inviduals (more of that in Part 2). By doing this we develop a routine of goal setting and achievement that is a useful skill set in life. This includes utilizing it at work, in relationships, and more. To be clear though, it is that direction of travel that tells us which way that we, as individuals are choosing to travel.
- What the Orienting arrow provides is a way to bring these two together and make them more useful. The North arrow is best understood on a macro or large scale mindset, the Direction of Travel is a micro small scale mindset, and the Orienting arrow connects the two. If we follow our goals (the North arrow) only then will we eventually get to the North pole which I suggest is our goals, but it will certainly take a long while to do so won’t it? We can also also just walk out and follow our Direction of Travel only, but bear in mind if we hold that in front of us it points our current direction only. This means if we turn and go another direction it is still pointing us a direction, even if that is in the wrong direction. By utilizing the Orienting arrow, we connect our Direction of Travel (where we are now) with the North arrow (our goals). This helps us to be more systematic, efficient, and productive in achieving our goals.
In summary for this Part 1 of 3, I will say this. YOU DO YOU! Yes look at others you admire and see their skill set as a goal, but dont try to be like them…you be like you. If you do this you can avoid the pitfalls of Bushcraft Butthurt that come from one person saying one teacher’s way is the only way. Bushcraft in my estimation is about developing creativity and ingenuity on the individual basis. I discuss this a bit further in this video.
Craig Caudill is the Founder and Chief Instructor of Nature Reliance School. He specializes in teaching outdoor related topics to include, survival, tracking, nature awareness and gun safety for private and public groups, and government agencies. Craig’s first book is Extreme Wilderness Survival from Page Street Publishing, distributed by Macmillan Publishing. Craig’s second book, Ultimate Wilderness Gear, is coming in July 2018 and can be pre-ordered now!
Craig is a also frequent contributor to TV outlets, blog sites, magazines and is a popular online outdoor educator on his YouTube channel. Pick up the books, subscribe to him on youtube, or join Craig and the other NRS Instructors in a class so they can help you be more safe and aware in the outdoors.