These helpful hints from the fifth edition of the Boy Scout Handbook printed in April of 1949 are great to know. For me, it helped in getting a accurate measurement for a lashing project (one yard for me is my fingertips to the opposite collarbone). Also, knowing that the measurement of my boot is one foot from tip to heal assists in configuring my stride for orienteering. Having this knowledge takes a lot of the guessing out of "how far away is that... how tall is that... or how much rope do we need?"
The following is taken from page 273, Fifth Edition Handbook For Boys -- Second Printing -- April 1949
You do not usually take a tape measure or yardstick with you on hikes or camp trips. But you do have a ruler with you at all times -- Your own personal measurements.
Here are some measurements that will be helpful to you. Get a tape measure, and fill in the blanks. Then remember them. But check up on them every six months.
- My height is ________ feet _____ inches
- Height of my eyes above ground ______ feet _____ inches
- My reach up to the tip of up-stretched fingers _____ feet _____ inches
- My reach across, from outstretched fingertips _____ feet _____ inches
- Span of my hand, from thumb to little finger _____ feet ______ inches
- Length of my feet _____ feet _____ inches
- Length of my step _____ feet _____ inches
Next, find a measurement for exactly one inch. It may be the length of one finger joint, or width of your thumb. Then find exactly one foot. It may be the length of your shoe, or your arm from elbow to a point on your hand. Finally find one yard. It may be the distance from outstretched fingertip to your chin or opposite shoulder.