Monday, 20 March 2017

Land Navigation - What To Do When GPS Fails

Land Navigation - What To Do When GPS Fails is produced by The Survival Summit. This production company and survival blog  produces a whole series of high quality, relevant, preparedness training videos which are available in DVD or downloadable format.

Before I start this DVD review, there are a few things that need to be disclose for the sake of honesty. I know one of the owners of The Survival Summit and consider him a good friend. Secondly, while I receive no remuneration for this or further DVD reviews; I did not purchase this DVD or other DVDs from The Survival Summit. As you know already, friendship does not mean a free pass on this blog.

Land Navigation - What To Do When GPS Fails is hosted by Top Albritton. The instructor has 20 years’ experience the United States military.  According to his instructor biography, on the Survival Summit website, Top claims to have taught thousands of recruits and soldiers the skills of Land Navigation. While the instructor biography is vague, I have no reason to doubt the veracity of his statement after watching the video.  As a past infantry non-commissioned officer with reconnaissance training, I have taught this subject as part of infantry basic training and during more advanced training events. Throughout the video, Top’s breadth of understanding and familiarity in the subject was undeniable. We genuinely enjoyed his easy speaking style and use of applied humour to maintain attention. 

The video lesson itself was broken into two distinct sections: Land Navigation and the Sand Table. 

The primary goal of the Land Navigation lessons is what Top refers to as “manual navigation” meaning no GPS or phones. Old school navigation by map, compass, protractor and acumen! He briefly goes over the selection of an orienteering or protractor based compass. Next, he goes, in exquisite detail, the parts and basic use of  a lensatic compass. This selection is Top’s preference as his experience with platform was obvious. I have little experience with a lensatic compass, as I prefer a protractor based compass, so this portion was especially education for me. The few segments were on improvised or survival compasses that can be used for gross determination of direction in emergency. The rest of land navigation portion proceeded with a logical sequence including but not limited to: azimuth sighting, pacing, map datum, map margin information, plotting grids and calculating declination. I personally found the declination portion to be a weaker part of the whole video. In fairness, magnetic declination cannot be taught in a short video segment. It takes formal training, practice and experience to calculate it with ease. My preference for a protractor based compass is rooted in its ability to set the magnetic declination manually once calculated, rather than the mathematical method of addition or subtraction to the plotted bearing as required when using a lensatic compass. This may just be my lack of sureness with the lensatic compass talking as well. The Land Navigation portion ended with a Navigation exercise that cements concepts and demonstrates practical application of other skills.

The second portion, Sand Table, was significantly shorter as it was intended as a visual representation of terrain and map features and explanation of navigation tactics and techniques. This portion was excellent and demonstrated concepts such as intervisibility succinctly.

The production value provided by The Survival Summit is excellent. The video is clear and angles precise. The dialogue is understandable with fitting music accompaniment. The use of blooper and humorous clips throughout was  a brilliant  way to keep attention to the video content.

Final Thoughts

Land Navigation - What To Do When GPS Fails  produced by The Survival Summit, is a very well done introduction to land navigation delivered with skill by a knowledgeable and experienced instructor. Having taught this subject many times, I was very satisfied with content, its explanation and delivery. This can be a dry subject if the lesson is not properly organized to keep attention. It is a good introduction to land navigation (or review depending on the viewer’s expertise). Land navigation can only be mastered with practice. This was Top’s final point as well as part of his motivation statement at the end of the lecture.

This is the second in a series of DVD reviews for The Survival Summit. The next video we will be assessing is Survival Communications

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