For each exercise,
an objective is stated
then the exercise is described. Naturally, the exercises use
This page contains exercise descriptions and sample map segments for
of the exercises.
Objective: To quickly find your location on a map
This is done as a
small group. Maps
are marked with several control points; however, no control flag is
at the control point. So, obvious (easy) control points
chosen. Each person in the group gets a map but only one
leader) looks at the map. The leader takes the group along
route toward but not all the way to the first control. The
should have a few twists and turns. When the leader stops,
else in the group looks at his/her map, determines their location and
to the first control. Switch leaders after each control.
Objective: To develop a routine to move quickly and accurately to the first control
A map has been
prepared to show the start,
one control and finish for 5 different map segments. The
the first segment is the start for the second segment; the finish for
second is the start for the third and so on. The control for
segment has a flag; the start and finish have only streamers.
three or four runners start at the same time; one of them says "go";
then flip over their map, orient it and run to the control and
Map segments have been rotated on the page; but a blue north
for each segment shows the direction of magnetic north. Upon
the control, you should walk to the finish and turn the map face down;
you should not look ahead at the next segment. Here is a
of map segments: First
Objective: To get better at picking attack points
Orienteering. Maps have been
prepared with the area around a control blocked out. Find an
point for each control and run to it. Then, using careful
reading, navigate to the control. You can go to the controls
order; or a sequence may be specified.
Here is an example: Donut-O
Objective: To make effective use of the compass
Orienteering. Maps have been
prepared that block out the map on either side of the connecting line
controls. Use only the compass to navigate to the
This may be done in two versions, one in which narrow corridors between
controls are blocked out and one in which wide corridors are blocked
Here is a sample in which narrow corridors are blocked: Fog
Objective: To pick the best route in the least amount of time
Leg Splitting. Mark a map with several long legs. Identify attack points along the way that will make the long leg into several short legs. This may be done as a written exercise or done in the woods.
Keep the Pen Moving
Using any map from a previous competition, draw the plan of your route
letting your pen stop. Ask another orienteer to
Objective: To practice reading contours
version of a course that
are all comparable in terms of length and difficulty. Draw
courses on small circular maps that have had all elements other than
(and perhaps vegetation) removed. The maps are NOT oriented
page and there are no north indicators. Using only the
find your way around the course. Keep the map oriented using
land forms. You may trade maps with someone else who has a
version and try a second time. This sample has vegetation in
to contours: Circular
Objective: To navigate using only the compass and contours
Maps consist of a
serpentine strip, showing
a twisting, turning loop which shows the land about 40 meters wide
the loop. The maps show only contours (and perhaps
other elements,including north lines, have been removed.
and punch at any controls that you find as you go around the loop;
locations are not marked on the map. You may traverse the
either direction. In this sample, two small pieces of road
only black features on the map: Corridor
Objective: To stay in contact with the map
Maps have been
prepared that show a twisting
turning line from the marked start to the marked
are to follow the line, punching at any controls that you find along
line. This exercise may be done in two versions:
one in which
a normal map is used, the other in which all trails have been
For an extra challenge, take a pencil with you and mark the locations
all controls that you find on the map. This sample uses a
Up/Down (written exercise)
Objective: To practice figuring out which way is uphill and which way is downhill
A map has been
prepared in which a series
of arrows have been drawn. You are to determine if each arrow
going up or down or level or a combination thereof. Evaluate
entire length of each arrow. Write your answers on
paper and compare then to the answers which will be provided.
is a sample map: Up
Objective: To estimate distance traveled
Using the 100 m length that is marked off by orange flags, count how many paces you take while walking, running slow, and running fast. You should count each time your right foot hits the ground and start your walk/run on your left foot.
Do the same exercise
using a long shallow
reentrant or a gently sloping hillside on which there is a 100 m length
marked off. Again, count your paces while walking, running
running fast both uphill and downhill. Write down the numbers
future reference; these may be used in subsequent events (if you
them) to help you judge distances traveled.
Objective: To practice identifying the major features needed to navigate to a control
On a blank sheet of
paper, draw a simplified
copy of the provided map with a course already on it. Put on
map only the major features that are needed to get to the control and
control itself. Do this for each leg of the course.
the hand-drawn map to navigate around the course. Take the
the provided map with you ... just in case.
Objective: To pick out the most important features to memorize a leg of a course
Work in pairs, using
one map. Partner
A memorizes the first leg and hands the map to partner B.
leads B to the first control without consulting the map.
A to the first control, B memorizes the second leg. At the
control, B hands the map to A; B then leads the way to #2 while A
and memorizes the next leg. Continue switching roles at each
The key to the memorization is picking out the major features that are
needed to navigate to a control.
Objective: To do mass starts and run with a group, with forking
There is an A course
map and a B course
map and the courses use forking. Each person at the mass
either an A or B course and is to go through the course s/he
After completing one of the courses, each runner should return to the
for the next mass start and run the other course. The two
are are 30 minutes apart; there may be additional mass starts if groups
show up later.
Objective: To practice punching faster
A string-O course is
set up, looking just
like one for 3- and 4-year-olds, except with lots of regular controls.
Each person starts on the course in a normal interval start and tries
finish as fast as possible, punching at every control. The
to try to make your punching action at each control as smooth as
Objective: To practice using contours and vegetation features in terrain association; also to practice using the compass and making distance measurements.
controls in a normal cross-country orienteering course using a map in
most of the features that would be drawn in black have been
If you are thinking of doing more than one exercise, do this one first
- the other exercises will show the trails, roads, etc. which would
defeat the purpose of this exercise. Here is an example map: Pathless
Objective: To practice finding a good attack point dynamically when some obvious choices have unexpectedly bad vegetation problems. To practice dealing with a map whose vegetation is out of date.
a map that
contains only trails,
roads, open spaces, streams, buildings and north lines, find your way
a course. Controls are on standard features and the control
specify what to look for; however, none of the control features are
on the map and none are on trails. The idea is to find a good
point using the little information that you have with one
It is possible to reach each control without going through dense
although you need to deal with a little light green or slow undergrowth
in a few places.
Here is an example map: Hiker's Quest
Objective: To practice finding control locations with no marker and placing controls correctly, according to the control description.
is done with a
as your partner someone who has similar orienteering ability and
Each partner is given 2 or more control flags, a map showing where
are to be placed and control descriptions. The maps are
Both partners are started at the same time; their task is to place the
control flags properly (in the center of the circle as the description
states) and return to a designated location (shown on both
as soon as possible. At the meeting place, they exchange maps
go pick up the control flags placed by their partner. Then,
return to the start. When both have returned to the start,
the placement of the controls by their partner.
Here is a sample map: Course Setter
Short-term Memory-O (2015)
Objective: To practice navigating without constantly looking at the map.
At the start, you will be allowed to study a map showing the start and the location of your first control; you may study this map until you are ready to start. You must navigate to this control without a map. You will be allowed to take with you only a set of control descriptions and a punch card. When you reach the first control, you will find a small piece of a map showing the location where you are and the location of the next control. You must navigate to this next control without a map. This process will continue until you have reached the last control where you will find a map showing the location of the finish.
Objective: To practice remembering key terrain features that will help in navigating the course and to practice using bearings and distance measurement.
At the start, you will be allowed to study a regular orienteering map showing the entire course to be covered; you may study this map until you are ready to start. You must navigate this entire course with a map that contains only control circles and lines connecting them. The circles and lines will be drawn exactly as if they were on a normal orienteering map. You will also be given a set of control descriptions and a punch card. Here is an example: Vector-O
Objective: To practice relocation.
This is done with one partner. Each person is given a map but with alternating controls - partner A's map shows controls 1, 3, 5, etc.; partner B's map shows controls 2, 4, 6, etc. The partners are not allowed to look at each other's maps at any time. The two partners go together to all controls; A goes to the first control and B must follow along on his/her map. Then, B goes to the second control while A follows on his/her map. This alternating of navigation continues until both reach the finish. Each partner gets a punch card and must punch at all controls.