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Methods Of Estimating Distances By The Eye

Military Handbooks: The Plattsburg Manual Advanced Training

1. Decide that the object cannot be more than a certain distance away,

or less than a certain distance. Keep the estimate within the closest

possible limits and take the mean of the two estimates as the range. For

instance, that deer cannot be over 800 yards away and not less than 400

yards. Your estimated distance is 600 yards.

2. Select a point which you think is the middle point of the distance,

e the distance to this middle point, and double your estimate to

get your range. Do the same thing with half the distance, if the object

is very far away.

3. Estimate the distance along a parallel line, such as a telephone line

or a railroad having on it a well-defined length with which you are


4. Take the mean of several estimates made by several well-instructed

men. This method is used in battle, but is not applicable to instruction

or during tests.

1. Preliminary Instruction

To estimate distances by the eye with accuracy, it is first necessary

that you become familiar with the appearance of the most convenient unit

of length, namely 100 yards. Stake off a distance of 100 yards.

Subdivide this 100 yards into four 25-yard divisions. Pace off the

entire distance several times, and you will soon become familiar with

the appearance of 100 yards. Next, take a distance more than 100 yards

and compare it mentally with your unit of measure (100 yards) and make

your estimate. Verify this estimate by pacing the distance. Do this once

a day for several months, and you may become highly skilled in the art

of estimating distances.

2. Preliminary Instruction

If you know how a soldier, or group of soldiers, looks at the different

ranges, it will often assist you in quickly making an accurate estimate

of the distance. In order to acquire skill in estimating distances by

this method one must have special exercises designated to demonstrate

the clearness with which details of clothing, movement of the limbs,

etc., can be observed at the different ranges. Have a squad march away

from you to a distance of 1,200 yards. Then have it approach you and

halt every 100 yards. Each time the squad halts make a mental note of

the distance, and then observe carefully its appearance, the clearness

with which you can see the clothing, movements of the limbs, etc.