Orienteering is for anyone mobile enough to move along paths, be they in the countryside, in parks or in towns. Groups, families and individuals are welcome (sometimes dogs are not allowed due to restrictions on land use), no matter what your standard and what level of competition you are looking for most events will have something for all. Prior to reading this page you might wish to watch this video which should help with a quick overview. It is not unusual to see the odd pushchair or papoose taking part. The aim is to use a detailed map to find your way round a defined course. You use one of two timing devices: SI dibber
Dibber (complete with the control unit) or Emit Brick
Emit Brick (and its associated Emit holder
Emit holder ) (also sometimes known as a plank) to electronically record your times round the course (these are available for hire at each event for a nominal fee).
Timing devices are activated by your SI dibber or Emit brick and will beep, and a red light flashes, to confirm your time has been recorded at each control point around your course. Events are mostly held on Sundays. However, there are events on some Wednesdays (both day and evening) and monthly on Saturdays. The Saturday series of events are particularly suited to beginners.
At each event there will be ‘officials’ who will help you out. Do not be afraid to ask for help or question them.
Most orienteers love to talk about their sport. There are special ‘come and try it’ events where helpers will take you round and explain what you need to know. However beginners are welcome at any event. Beginners should start with a WHITE or YELLOW course. Courses are graded dependent on length of course and degree of skill required to locate features. Each course type has a specific colour code.
White courses are generally about 1.5 kilometres in length and, are all on paths with orange and white markers called kites at path junctions. These are placed in the entrance to the new path to be taken.
Yellow courses (which are more common) are about 2.5 kilometres and, a little more difficult to navigate.
Each kite is identified by a number and, holds a timing device.
Finding the event
Details of local events can be found on the website: (See calendar). There is usually a sign on the road 100m or 200m before the entrance to an event. Orienteering signs are always red and white. You can take part anywhere in orienteering anywhere in the world and find the same (or very similar) process and signage.
An Event in brief:
Parking - there is often a charge to park on the local land (typically this might be £1 so have some change ready)
Registration - where you will choose your course, pay entry fee and hire SI dibber or Brick as required. You will agree a start time depending on: distance to start, readiness, etc
The Start - look for a ‘to the start’ sign or ask! (typically you will be guided to follow the red and white striped tapes, often hanging from a branch to the start). Once there you will be called up prior to your start time, here people are waiting and are in the timing start boxes, people on the same course start 1 minute apart.
Here you will move forward at 1 minute intervals and finally collect your map. There will always be ‘start officials’ to help. Your recorded time commences when you punch the ‘start’ device which is located just in front of the start line
Beyond the box can be seen the start timing device and further away, the start kite.
Competing - Now the fun part and into the forest to complete the course
Example Yellow Course (punch each control indicated on your map in the order stated), continue until you get to the finish.
On the map the start kite is represented by the triangle (No punch at this point!). Each control point on the defined route is located in the centre of the pink circle. The finish is located at the double circle (dashed line indicates taped route to the finish)
Once you do get to the finish you then need to go to the DOWNLOAD area or tent (this is often located at or near registration - this is very important! since this is the only method the organisation team know that you are back out of the forest and safe). At download you will receive a printout of your times to each control, giving you a chance to grab a well learned drink, socialise, and discuss your route.
Don’t forget to visit the website next day for your results, position and if you would like to compare your route electronically with others on your course enter details into ‘routegadget’ –it is great fun!
There are several other sites explaining orienteering, for a great overview see the British Orienteering Website, or fellow orienteering club Saxons, covering Kent SE England.