Search Inquiry Net
[ Home ] [ Up ]
Scout Books
Site Contents
 
E. Lawrence Palmer
Winter is an excellent time to practice the First Class
Requirements in judging height and distance. The absence of leaves brings out
objects and places that can't be seen in summer.
If you do much
walking about the country you may find it very helpful to be able to have some
idea as to how great distances are and how tall trees, cliffs, or buildings are.
To help you do this I am suggesting a few ways of making these estimates. These
methods used in the army and by the Boy Scouts may interest you. These estimates
are not accurate, of course, but they give you a fairly good idea, which is
better than a wild guess.
To learn to estimate distances which you walk:
 Measure 100 feet on a road or on
level ground and mark the limits in some way.   Beginning some little distance back from the first
marker, walk toward it and the second marker. Do not hurry. just walk normally.  
As you pass the first marker begin counting each step and continue this until
you reach the second marker. If you took forty steps in going this distance, as
many people do, each step will be how long?   Repeat this a number of times and
find the average number of steps you take in going a hundred feet. It is often
convenient to count only the steps you take with one foot, in which case, of
course, you would do only half the counting.   Now start on a walk and as you pass
some particular landmark, such as a stone or a fence or a tree, begin counting.
When you have paced off a hundred feet look back and see about how far away the
starting point was. Then, look ahead and pick out something which you think is
about a hundred feet away. Pace it off and see how close you were. After
a while you will be able to guess very closely this distance.   When you get so
that you can guess a distance of a hundred feet quite accurately try some other
distance.   In estimating long distances you will find it easier, if two of you
are walking, for one of you to count a hundred paces, then the other to do the
same, and so on.   Practice guessing how long a building. After a time you will be able to get distances nearly correct. 
To
estimate the distance to some building or other object:
 Hold your
arm out shoulder high.   Turn so that your finger is pointing at one edge of
the object when your head is turned to look along your arm. Close one eye.   Holding your head and arms
still, look along your arm with your other eye. Your finger will now point to
some place to the right or left of where it was originally pointing.   Estimate
the distance between where your finger first seemed to point and where it seemed
to point the second time. If a house or barn should be in
this distance it should be simple to use them as a measure.   Multiply the estimated distance between the two points by ten and you will very
nearly have the distance from you to the object. 
To determine the height of
a tree on level ground:
 Find yourself a stick, and measure it. Three feet and five feet lengths are convenient.   At
some distance from the tree, depending upon its height push the stick into the
ground, or better, support it in some way so that it stands up by itself.   Keeping
the stick between you and the tree, move off until you come to a place where if
you lie down the top of the stick will appear to be even with the top of the
tree. Mark this spot on the ground.   Measure with the stick or with
something else the distance from where your eye was to the stick and from where
your eye was to the tree.   Multiply the length of the stick by the distance
from your eye to the tree. Divide this product by the distance from your eye to
the stick and the quotient will be the height of the tree. 
