Developing orienteering skills

The following are some suggestions for skills to develop to help you improve your success on Yellow and Orange courses. The Better Orienteering website is a great resource for further improving your orienteering.

Yellow Course Skills

  1. On the Yellow course, you can usually look at your map and the course before you start. The course starts at the triangle on the map.
  2. An orienteering map uses some symbols that you will be familiar with and some that you may not have seen before. There is a lot more detail than an OS map. The map key explains the symbols.
  3. The controls (checkpoints) are shown by a purple circle on the map. You must visit them in the order shown on the map and control description. If you miss one, go back to it, then complete the rest of the course in order.
  4. The control is always placed on a mapped feature. The control description tells you about the control, where to find it in relation to the feature.
  5. Check that the code on the control matches the code on the control description, if they don't match you are at a different control.
  6. Orient your map, by matching things around you with features on the map. Keep your map oriented as you travel. It is recommended that you turn your map, so that you travel up the map.
  7. At junctions, check the orientation of your map and be careful to choose the right way.
  8. Follow lines on the map to get to each control (checkpoint). There are a lot of line features that are easily followed: path, stream, fence, wall, hedge, earth bank, etc. The edges of areas are also lines that can be followed.
  9. Orienteering is a race. Keeping your navigation accurate is more important than speed.
  10. The finish is shown as a double circle on the map. Always report to download, so that we know you are safe and out of the course.

Orange Course Skills

  1. The skills developed on yellow course are foundational to success. Check them too if you want to start with orange.
  2. Understand how to use a compass to orient your map.
  3. It is useful to understand control descriptions so that you understand what you are looking for. The descriptions use an international code of symbols. So once you know, you can orienteer anywhere in the world.
  4. You can normally complete an orange course by following line features (things that are visible as lines on the ground and on the map).
  5. It can be much faster to cut corners, understand how to use a compass to decide which way to go. and follow it.
  6. Expect to make choices about which way to go, to get to controls.
  7. Understand the scale of the map and what 100m looks like on the map.
  8. Counting paces is a way to know how far you have travelled. Learn how many paces you take per 100m.
  9. Thumbing: Each time you look at your map and have decided where you are, mark your position with your thumb before you look away. Then you can find your place on the map quickly.
  10. The controls may be just off-line features. The feature that the control is on should be visible from the nearby line feature.