Height & Distance

 

 

 

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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: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bullet  Measure 100 feet on a road or on level ground and mark the limits in some way. 
bullet   Beginning some little distance back from the first marker, walk toward it and the second marker.  Do not hurry. just walk normally. 
bullet   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? 
bullet   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.  
bullet  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.  
bullet   When you get so that you can guess a distance of a hundred feet quite accurately try some other distance. 
bullet   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. 
bullet   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:

 

 

 

 

bullet  Hold your arm out shoulder high. 
bullet  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.
bullet  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. 
bullet  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.  
bullet  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:

 

 

 

 

bullet  Find yourself a stick, and measure it.  Three feet and five feet lengths are convenient.  
bullet  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. 
bullet  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. 
bullet  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.  
bullet  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.
 

 

 

   

 

 


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Last modified: July 03, 2013.