I’ve written an on how to calculate the width of an area using nothing more than your compass. John McCann told me as soon as he read that article, it reminded him of a method his father shared with him at a younger age. His method didn’t require a compass and there was no need to calculate using 45 degree angles. In fact, his method could use any angle and some simple geometry. As I listened to John explain it. The light bulb immediately went off, and I knew exactly what he meant… “Of course”, I thought… Duh!

Using our brick as a model, and for the sake of this article we want to suppose it is a river, and we want to determine the width of this river (brick), we can use some easy counting to figure out the width without getting wet.

Standing at point A, we pick a visual reference on the opposite side of the river and call it B. — It can be a tree, boulder, etc. on the waters edge.

From there, we pace off, along the river bank, some steps, we will call it 5 paces for the sake of this exercise, and mark that position C. continue pacing along the bank another 5 paces and mark that position D In reality it doesn’t matter how many paces you mark off. What does matter is that you count the same number of paces between C and D as you did between Aand C. — It is very important for maximum accuracy.

Next, turn ninety degrees and begin pacing inland until you reach a point where you can now line your position up with points C and B. We will call this position E. The distance you traveled between D and E will be equal to the distance between A and B.

To help illustrate this, I have taken another brick and flipped it end over end to show the relation to the markings I’ve drawn.