Every good foot-mobile soldier needs to know where he's going, and do some land navigation. It's practically impossible to constantly keep mental track of your pace count, while simultaneously keeping a sharp eye on all the other tasks going on during a patrol. The pace counter beads let you count, even when things get crazy, and you can't keep your concentration.
Each pace counter bead set will cost you about $0.40 to make, and take about 10 minutes. Paracord typically comes in 100' packs for about $10, and the beads are about $4 for nearly 600. So for $15, you'll have enough materials to make over 35 sets of pace counter beads. So make them for all your buddies too!
In order to make these, you will need the following:
- 1x 34" piece of 550 paracord, color of your choice (per set of pace counter beads)
- 13x black pony beads (per set of pace counter beads)
This bag of 589 beads was $4 at Michael's.
- Knife or scissors
- Lighter or candle
- Tape measure
Here are the steps to make a set of pace counter beads:
- Measure and cut a 34" piece of paracord.
- On one end, use the lighter/candle to very gently melt the edge of the jacket ONLY, by quickly twisting the side of the cut edge of the cord against the flame. You only want the jacket barely melted, to help prevent unraveling, but the center cords must be unmelted and certainly not melted to the jacket. On the other end, use the lighter/candle to melt the cut end, while twisting it in the flame, until the inner cords and jacket all melt together into a single molten puddle. If it catches fire, just let it go until it melts to the point you want, then blow it out.
- Pull the center filaments out, while sliding the outer jacket back. Cut off 17" of the center filament, gently melt the ends, the extend the sheath back out so that only half of the jacket has filament in it. You should be able to slide your fingers along the paracord, and feel where the filament ends. As long as it's within about 1" of the midpoint of the piece of paracord, it's fine.
- Take one of the cut-off pieces of filament, and gently melt each end, so that it won't unravel.
- Take this piece of filament, and fold it in half. Pinch and hold the ends together, with your thumb and index finger, and put the looped end over your pinky finger. Feed the 13x beads onto the filament. Your pinky will keep them from falling off the other end.
- Take the paracord, and feed the end that does not have filament in it through the loop of filament over your pinky finger. The paracord should only go through about 1/4 of the length (~8-9"). Fold the paracord over, doubled up, at that point (it should be a fold of the portion without filament). Take your pinky finger out of the loop.
- Slide the beads down off the filament, and onto the doubled-over paracord jacket. Be sure to push them on far enough to have a loop of paracord you can get your finger through, then discard the filament.
- Adjust the paracord in order to pull the portion of the cord that still has filament inside it through the beads. Align it so that the paracord is now doubled truly in half, and each bead has two strands of paracord through it, one with filament inside and one without. This will ensure the beads are tight on the cord (using two lengths of paracord jacket only is too loose, and two strands of paracord with filaments inside is too tight).
- From the looped end of the doubled-over paracord, tie a knot that leaves 2" of loop. Be sure to make the knot lay nice. There should be no beads on this loop.
- Slide 4x beads up against the knot tied in the previous step.
- Tie a knot below the 4x beads, that leaves 1.5" of room for them to slide.
- Slide the remaining 9x beads up against the knot tied in the previous step.
- Tie a knot below the 9x beads, that leaves 1.5" of room for them to slide.
- Optionally, you can cut off the remaining tails of paracord, and melt the ends.
- The overall pace counter bead set should be about 10-11" long.
- To attach the beads, pull the loop through something on your gear (e.g. MOLLE loop, D-ring, etc.), and feed the tail end of the bead set up through the loop.
To use the pace counter beads is pretty simple.
- Measure out exactly 100m somewhere, and count the number of paces it takes you to walk that distance. (A pace is TWO steps... every time your left foot hits the ground.) Check it a few times, both in the down, and back, directions (to negate sloping ground). Determine how your pace count changes while burdened with gear. Also determine your running pace count.
- Start with both groups of beads (4x and 9x) in the up position, against the upper knots.
- While walking, count your paces.
- When you hit the number of paces that you have previously determined is 100m, move one bead fully down from the 9x group. Each of these beads is 100m.
- Once you have pulled down all 9x beads from that group, and when it's time to pull down another, instead pull down one bead from the 4x group, and push all the 9x group beads back up to the top. Each of these beads in the 4x group is 1000m.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5, until you reach your destination.