Orienteering is a unique individual challenge. We are all on our independent journeys to navigational excellence and, as in a race, we all share the same start point. We all once picked up a map for the first time, stepped out into the forest, and tried to navigate around a course. This pag...
Orienteering is a unique individual challenge. We are all on our independent journeys to navigational excellence and, as in a race, we all share the same start point. We all once picked up a map for the first time, stepped out into the forest, and tried to navigate around a course. This page and the Coaching blog are intended to help you on your journey. We will point you in the right direction, share tips from the experts and let you know about opportunities to develop your orienteering skills.
The orienteering journey requires progression through navigational skills. All orienteering events provide for this progression through colour coded courses starting with white (beginner), yellow, orange then finally red. White courses will always follow the features in the terrain that are easiest to navigate by, such as tracks, or streams. These features are known as handrails, in your orienteering uncertainty you can reach out and grasp them for support! Red courses are designed to be as difficult as possible. How hard this is depends on the terrain. Forest maps are always the hardest due to the limited visibility. Sand dune forests are the most common type of orienteering terrain for championship events in New Zealand
Orienteers normally begin their journey at events on nearby parks and reserves, then move onto local farmland events, then regional or national level events. The stage of your journey, when all the locations and terrain are new is a really exciting time. There is the opportunity for orienteers of all ages to seek out the ultimate orienteering challenges around New Zealand, such as the gold mining terrain in Central Otago, or the sand dune forests north of Auckland, and indeed around the world; the karst of Slovenia, the vast moraines of Scandinavia or the sand dunes of Portugal. Experience gained at any level of progression will be useful for these challenges ahead. See examples of different types of orienteering map below.
Orienteering is a map sport and, when a level of navigational competence is achieved, a running sport. It is that unique challenge of keeping your map orientated, then interpreting map to ground, and ground to map, that hooks people to the sport. A good orienteer can read a map and create a 3D image of the terrain in their mind. As you gain experience in orienteering, review your maps regularly, start building these images for yourself. At events start taking satisfaction from knowing what is around the corner before you get there – staying one step ahead of yourself as you move smoothly through your course.
As you progress through your orienteering journey, and learn from your experiences, and the experiences of the people you meet, particularly those in your local club, you will pick-up more techniques to cope with the new navigational challenges. A compass can be a good tool, as can be techniques to master your speed and thought processes. Some of these are summarised in the Little Book of Orienteering Techniques (included in Resources section). Remember every orienteers journey is unique. With events ranging from 10 minutes to 24 hours long, and in all sorts of terrains, from cities to some of our wildest terrains, there is a challenge for everyone.
Check back into the Coaching blog regularly, and also fire us your questions or thoughts. Remember, we all started in the same place, stepping off the start line into unknown terrain trying to read a map for the first time. This is our common reference point we can all build on.