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One of 24 competitors at the night urban warfare orienteering course during the 2009 Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition at Fort Lee, Virginia

Land navigation is the discipline of following a route through unfamiliar terrain on foot or by vehicle, using maps with reference to terrain, a compass, and other navigational tools. It is distinguished from travel by traditional groups, such as the Tuareg[1] across the Sahara and the Inuit[2] across the Arctic, who use subtle cues to travel across familiar, yet minimally differentiated terrain. Land navigation is a core military discipline, which uses courses that are an essential part of military training. Often, these courses are several miles long in rough terrain and are performed under adverse conditions, such as at night or in the rain.[3]

In the late 19th century, land navigation developed into the sport of orienteering.[4] The earliest use of the term 'orienteering' appears to be in 1886. Nordic military garrisons began orienteering competitions in 1895.[5]

United States[]

In the United States military, land navigation courses are required for the Marine Corps[6] and the Army.[7] Air Force escape and evasion training includes aspects of land navigation. Army Field Manual 3-25.26 is devoted to land navigation.[7][8]

See also[]

  • History of orienteering
  • Navigation
  • Navigation research
  • Piloting


  1. Major, F. G. (2013-10-16) (in en). Quo Vadis: Evolution of Modern Navigation: The Rise of Quantum Techniques. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9781461486725. 
  2. Aporta, Claudio (2003). "Inuit Orienting: Traveling Along Familiar Horizons" (in en-US). University of Alberta. 
  3. Ministry of Defence (1988). "Manual of map reading and land navigation". Ministry of Defense (United Kingdom). pp. 255. 
  4. "Past & present". International Orienteering Federation. Archived from the original on 2008-08-02. Retrieved 2008-09-28. 
  5. "History : International Orienteering Federation". Retrieved 2012-06-26. 
  6. United States Marine Corps (2010). "Land Navigation". U.S. Marine Guidebook. London. ISBN 9781602399419. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Department of the Army (2005). Army Training Circular TC 3-25.26: U.S. Army Map Reading and Land Navigation Handbook. ISBN 9781420928235. 
  8. Department of the Army (2009-07-27) (in en). U.S. Army Guide to Map Reading and Navigation. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.. ISBN 9781602397026. 

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