Basic Land Navigation


  • Open the map by pressing [M].

  • Zoom the map in or out with [mouse-wheel up and down].

  • Try hiding or showing map textures or centering on your position. Buttons are located on the top toolbar.

  • Close the map by pressing [M] or [Esc].

The map used in ARMA 3 is a variable scale, topographic map using a simplified MGRS(Military Grid Reference System). Compared to real life maps, the ARMA map differs in a few ways, primarily:

  • No difference between magnetic North and true North.

  • No magnetic declination to account for.

  • No grid zone designator to account for.

  • The only marginal information on the ARMA 3 map, is scale and contour line distance.

Elevation Select Meter

At certain locations on the map you will see a dot and number, this is the altitude above seal leave of that location in meters.

Contour Lines

Elevation on the map is represented by contour lines. ARMA uses two types of contour lines:

  • Index Lines: Starting at sea level, every fifth contour line is considered an Index Line and is shown in red on the map.

  • Intermediate Lines: All contour lines between the index lines are considered intermediate lines and are spaced at the current contour interval.

Contour Interval

You can find the ‘contour interval’ in the bottom right margin on the ARMA map. The contour interval represents the vertical distance between any two adjacent contour lines at the current map scale. Thus, the closer the contour lines are, the steeper the slope is because more vertical distance is covered in a shorter horizontal distance.

Contour lines never intersect because any point on a contour line is at the same elevation above or below sea level.


Because it is often not practical to show certain objects at scale on a map, or because more information than just the shape and size of an object is required, symbols are commonly displayed on the map.

Common symbols seen on the ARMA map are categorized into two categories, man made objects and natural objects.

Symbols representing man made objects include:

  1. Primary Paved Roads(MSR)

  2. Paved Roads(ASR)

  3. Dirt Roads

  4. Foot Paths

  5. Town and City Centers

  6. Buildings and Walls

  7. Prominent Vertical Structures(Antenna, Wind Generator, Lighthouse, etc)

  8. Runways and Airports

Symbols representing natural objects include:

  1. Contour and Elevation

  2. Mountain Peaks

  3. Water Features

  4. Forested Areas

  5. Brush



A saddle is a dip or low point between two areas of higher ground. A saddle is not necessarily the lower ground between two hilltops; it may be simply a dip or break along a level ridge crest. If you are in a saddle, there is high ground in two opposite directions and lower ground in the other two directions. A saddle is normally represented as an hourglass


A valley is a stretched-out groove in the land, usually formed by streams or rivers. A valley begins with high ground on three sides and usually has a course of running water through it. If standing in a valley, three directions offer high ground, while the fourth direction offers low ground. Depending on its size and where a person is standing, it may not be obvious that there is high ground in the third direction, but water flows from higher to lower ground. Contour lines forming a valley are either U-shaped or V-shaped. To determine the direction the water is flowing, look at the contour lines. The closed end of the contour line (U or V) always points upstream or toward high ground


A ridge is a sloping line of high ground. If you are standing on the center-line of a ridge, you will normally have low ground in three directions and high ground in one direction with varying degrees of slope. If you cross a ridge at right angles, you will climb steeply to the crest and then descend steeply to the base. When you move along the path of the ridge, depending on the geographic location, there may be either an almost unnoticeable slope or a very obvious incline. Contour lines forming a ridge tend to be U-shaped or V-shaped. The closed end of the contour line points away from high ground


A depression is a low point in the ground or a sinkhole. It could be described as an area of low ground surrounded by higher ground in all directions, or simply a hole in the ground. Usually only depressions that are equal to or greater than the contour interval will be shown. On maps, depressions are represented by closed contour lines that have tick marks pointing toward low ground (not sure I have seen any one ArmA maps)



A draw is a stream course that is less developed than a valley. In a draw, there is essentially no level ground and, therefore, little or no maneuver room within its confines.If you are standing in a draw, the ground slopes upward in three directions and downward in the other direction. A draw could be considered as the initial formation of a valley. The contour lines depicting a draw are U-shaped or V-shaped, pointing toward high ground


A spur is a short, continuous sloping line of higher ground, normally jutting out from the side of a ridge. A spur is often formed by two roughly parallel streams cutting draws down the side of a ridge. The ground will slope down in three directions and up in one. Contour lines on a map depict a spur with the U or V pointing away from high ground


Reading a grid reference is essential to locating and communicating positions in the world onto a map.

Precision. The map is divided into equally sized grid squares, and intersecting lines are numbered both vertically(Eastings) and horizontally(Northings). Each digit of a grid reference represents one decimal place, starting at 10 km with the two digit grid reference.

Four Digit 12 67 …………..…precision level 1 km

Six Digit 123 678 ………..…..precision level 100 m

Eight Digit 1234 6789 ………precision level 10 m

Ten Digit 12345 67890 ……..precision level 1 m

Reading a grid

It is easy to read 2, 4, and 6 digit grid references from the ARMA map because the map scales as you zoom in and out, but you can read a more precise grid reference using either map tools or estimation.

Either way, the steps remain the same:

  1. Read TOP TO BOTTOM first

  2. Read LEFT TO RIGHT second

  3. Combine the two readings together to create the grid reference.

ACE Map Tools

Using map tools

To use map tools the Map Tools item is required.

  • Open the map M (Arma 3 default key bind Map).

  • Press the self interaction key Ctrl + ⊞ Win (ACE3 default key bind Self Interaction Key).

  • Select Map tools.

  • Select the type of tools you want to use.

  • Note that you can drag the Roamer (map tool) around with LMB and rotate it with Ctrl + LMB.

To get an 8 digit grid you need to use the ACE map tools, or Guestament

The Map Tool usually appears somewhere in the lower left corner of your Map and you may have to zoom out to get it. Just pressing on it with the left mouse button is enough to move it around. To actually turn it around, which you will need to do you need to press “CTRL + Hold Left Mouse Button” and then align it north

Exercise: find the 8 digit grid of the circled radio tower.

  1. First we line the map tools over the radio tower where the 0 and 0 intersect in the upper right of the map tools

  2. The align the nearest line on the grid lines on the map in this case it's 052 (up) and 050 (right)

  3. Then count the smaller marks to the tower

  4. So the 8 digit grid is 0528 0507


Every grid is based on a scale of 10, so the center will always be the 5’s

Example: (let's round up for this)

If the grid below was 023 043 (the six digit), the center of it would be 0235 0435 for the eight digit , and the village in the lower right ¼ would be 0237 0433

Now this is not good enough for Artillery or CAS but good enough to find what you're talking about on a map.

Bearing From A Map

To get the bearing from Old Outpost to LZ Baldy

      1. place the map tools over the old outpost

      2. rotate them till the center red line is over LZ Baldy


The compass is a tool used to measure direction. The version modeled in ARMA is a lensatic compass with both degree and milliradian markings.

Measuring Direction

Is generally using the cardinal directions, or more precise using degrees. Mils are not commonly used.

Cardinal Direction:

The four cardinal directions are displayed on the center of the compass ring and allow for quick reference of general direction.

Bearing Degrees:

The inner ring of the compass shows degrees printed every ten degrees and a hash mark every five degrees. There are 360 degrees.

Bearing Mils:

The outer ring of the compass shows mils printed every 200 mils, large hash mark every 100 mils, and a small hash mark every 20 mils. There are 6400 mils.

Moving With The Compass

Never travel with the compass open and blocking a large portion of your screen

        1. Take a heading , in this example 320 degrees

        2. Look through the sight and find an easy to remember target

        3. Move to the target then rinse and repeat