The NASAR Tracking Fundamentals (TRACKING) course is a Step-By-Step course. Establishing a field searcher’s clue and track awareness with the student being certified as a SARTECH TRACK AWARE resource upon completion. The course provides information regarding the general responsibilities, skills, abilities, and the equipment needed by persons who wish to be assigned as a Tracker to field operations during a SAR mission.

The TRACKING course content includes focus on a cycle of five skills sets [detection, interpretation, recording, tactics and trailing], which are needed by the SAR Tracker to support a search and rescue incident. Students are expected to have the proper equipment to perform on a tracking assignment in the environment of the course location; including during daylight and nighttime operations.

 The material is germane to any SAR environment.

This NASAR course is designed to prepare the student to challenge the NASAR SARTECH TRACKER Examination. This test will be given at the end of the TRACKING course to determine course completion.  70% is the minimum passing grade on this written test.  The written test is the first step in the SARTECH TRACKER Examination and will not need to be repeated when the tracker chooses to participate in the evaluation.

There are 4 Books currently carried by the NASAR Bookstore that are good base knowledge resources.

A selection of one [1] of these books, combined with the course lesson material will prepare one to pass the TRACKING written exam and this will be a first step toward a future SAR Tracker certification. Students should own at least one of these and bring book to class.

Publications that will prepare you for passing this written test are:

  1. Fundamentals of Mantracking: The Step-By-Step Method  by "Ab" Taylor and Donald Cooper
  2. Foundations for Awareness, Signcutting and Tracking   by Robert Speiden
  3. Tracking: A Blueprint for Learning How    by Jack Kearney
  4. NASAR Fundamentals of Search and Rescue  Chapter 13 “Tracking”;  by  Jones and Bartlett Publishers

All are available through the NASAR Book Store.

The recommended number of hours for the TRACKING course is twenty (20) plus hours. The course is usually conducted over a long weekend starting early on Saturday but can be taught over (3) three days starting on Friday night.

Who Should Attend

  • Those interested in becoming a SAR tracking resource within a search and rescue operation.
  • SAR personnel who would like to maintain or increase their knowledge of search and rescue tracking skills.
  • Managers of emergency response organizations who want to understand the state of the art skills and knowledge needed by their SAR Trackers.


  • While not required, the NASAR FUNSAR completion and a current SARTECH II certification are recommended as prerequisites for TRACKING


  • Review of  the history of tracking in SAR
  • Nomenclature of tracking equipment and resources Skills
  • Review of Track Awareness and FUNSAR tracking information
  • SAR Tracker Responsibilities
  • Tracking Skill Sets:
    • Detection
      • Seeing more
      • Perceiving better
    • Interpretation
      • Determining the correct shoe print
      • Aging
      • Direction of travel
    • Recording
      • Sketching
      • Photographing
      • Radio Communication
    • Tactics
      • Map reading
      • Planning approaches
      • Planning signcutting tactics
    • Trailing
      • Step-By-Step
      • Beyond S-B-S
      • Following faster
      • Signcutting 
      • Reacquiring lost line of sign

After Completion

Upon successful completion of the TRACKING course, the student should be able to:

  • Understand the relationship between inconclusive, conclusive, collaborative sign
  • Explain why Trackers can confidently exclaim that there is sign left behind by every footfall
  • Define the role of the Tracker within a SAR operation
  • Understand the responsibilities for the SAR Tracker
  • Describe the expectations of the Incident Commander upon the SAR Tracker
  • List the four skill sets needed by the SAR Tracker
  • List tracking assignments that one would expect at a ground search incident
  • Describe the key elements of the tracking stick and demonstrate the ability to use it
  • Describe advantages and disadvantages of different tracking tools
  • Demonstrate the use of personal SAR tracking equipment
  • Describe and demonstrate the controllable aspects of improving your visual cues
  • Understand how to set up an aging pit to increase aging of track knowledge
  •  List the advantages to participation in “dirt time” and how it reflects on your tracking skill level
  • Describe the tracking capabilities and a Trackers function at night
  • Understand the need to sketch track and how this activity assists in our brain’s capacity to remember and perceive our subjects print pattern
  • List the information needed by the Tracker once a print is found and how to prepare this information for radio communication
  • Understand the importance of owning and maintaining a tracking log
  • Describe the primary types of tracking tactics
  • List and demonstrate at least four tracking or tactical skills needed by SAR Trackers
  • Demonstrate the practice of Step-By-Step trailing
  • Describe unique tracking techniques used for his/her environment
  • Describe the techniques and methods used for tracking tactics
  • Demonstrate the practice of effective signcutting
  • Describe the basic legal philosophy concerning searcher knowledge, training, physical abilities, equipment, discipline, and control; as it would apply to a SAR Tracker