Vetting can reasonably be broken into two phases: desk-top
vetting and field vetting. In each phase, there are different
checks that can be made; however, the vetter's goal is the same during
both phases: to make the courses fair, appropriate and accurate.
To do vetting, one must have the skills of a course setter (meet
director) because the vetter is essentially acting as a shadow course
setter, a second set of eyes, in making the courses for an event.
The vetter must be willing to express his/her opinions about the
courses someone else has designed; and in discussions with the
course setter, perhaps occasionally be forceful about those opinions.
However, the vetter must keep in mind that the course
setter has the last say.*
This phase can be done as soon as the course designer (meet director)
has put the courses on paper or into Purple Pen. The vetter
1. Making sure the course lengths are appropriate for type of
participants that will be doing them; that is, making sure the lengths
conform to the guidelines for beginner (white), novice (yellow), ...
advanced (red) level courses.
2. Making the sure the course climbs are close to or under 4% of the
lengths. For some venues, it may be impossible to make some
courses meet the 4% guideline; however, the efforts must be made (by
the vetter or course designer) to try to come close.
3. Making sure each leg of each course is doable by the level of
participant that is expected for the course. That is, legs should
not be made to require or entice participants to cross bodies of water,
deep streams, substantial marshes or large boulder fields; to
go through large patches of dense vegetation; to climb up or down
dangerously steep cliffs; or to require going an unreasonable distance
out of the way to avoid these hazards.
4. Making sure that legs do not form "dog legs". That is,
having two legs that are at an extremely acute angle so that the
expected direction for entering a control is not the opposite of a
likely direction for exiting from the control.
5. Making sure there are an appropriate number of water stops on the courses and that the stops are positioned reasonably.
6. Making sure that possible weather at the time of year the
event is held will not cause unexpected problems at controls. For
example, a control along a stream or in a marshy area could become
inaccessible with heavy spring rains or a beginner/novice control in a
rough open field could become much more difficult in late summer or
early fall if the grass/weeds are 4-5 feet high.
The vetter should look at all of these issues and consult with the
course designer to try to correct deficiencies. The vetter should
approach this phase as one in which s/he offers suggestions to the
course designer. The designer has ultimate responsibility for the
courses. Note: The vetter is not a controller; a controller
(used only on national events) has the ultimate responsibility and can
override the designer's ideas. The vetter's suggestions may be in
the form of adding, deleting or moving controls.
Once there is general agreement between the course setter and vetter
about the course designs. The course setter will mark the
controls locations in the forest with ribbon/tape. The vetter can
then do the field vetting phase; this is normally done 3-4 weeks before
the event. The vetter should
1. Go to each control site and make sure the feature is as
described in the control descriptions. This should include such
issues as to whether the control flag is to be in
specific location relative to a feature, whether the feature
is described accurately, and whether the location of the feature on the
map matches the one in the field.
2. Traverse at least some of the legs of some courses
(particularly advanced courses) to be sure that the terrain matches the
map in terms of vegetation density and that no significant navigation
feature has changed. Features that might change would include
such things as streams, ponds or marshes drying up, someone adding new
trails through an area, someone cutting down trees or removing
vegetation. These need to be noted so that the course setter can
add them to the course and map notes for the event. It may be
possible to get the mapper to make changes in the map to reflect the
feature changes; but there is usually not enough time to do that before
3. Evaluate the map, especially in the vicinity of each control
to be sure it agrees with what s/he sees in the field. If it does
not agree, the vetter should recommend moving the control to a
more accurate area.
The ideal course setter-vetter interaction for field vetting should go like this:
The course setter should have put identifying information on the
ribbon/tape when it is placed in the forest. At a minimum, this
information should be the control flag number; having other things like
"WPOC" or the date of the event are also good ideas. By doing
this, the course setter has created a situation in which the vetter
upon finding an orange or pink ribbon at some feature can be sure that
it is really the location marked by the course setter and not some
stray hunter's marker or a survey marker. The vetter should then
leave his/her mark on the ribbon - a check mark, his/her initials,
something to show that this is a correct control location. If the
vetter does not find a ribbon at the feature circled on the map or
encounters the ribbon at a location different from the one circled,
s/he must make note of it to tell the course setter. The vetter
may also do things such as place his/her own ribbon at the correct
feature or move the setter's ribbon to the correct location.
Whatever s/he does must be communicated to the course setter.
It is the course setter's job to resolve any discrepancies that the vetter reports before the event.
It may be necessary for the course setter to revisit a control
location to resolve a problem. The vetter cannot know whether the
circle on the map was drawn wrong or animals/humans removed a ribbon or
the course setter placed the ribbon incorrectly. The vetter can
evaluate the map and may report that it is inaccurate in the area of
the control - this should cause the course setter to move the control.
If all of the course setter and vetter actions go well, the
course setter will find the vetter's mark on the ribbons when
placing the control flags for the event and should be confident that
everything is correct.
*The ideal vetter for an event is someone who has as much or more skill
at course setting than the course setter. Thus, the course setter
should not ignore the vetter's suggestions, comments, pleas,
arguments, input. By the way, skill at course setting should not
be measured based on the number of courses set; it should be measured
using the inverse of the number of adjustments to courses the
course setter makes based on vetting input.