In simple terms, orienteering is about finding your way around a course between some checkpoints using a map. The faster you can do that and get all the checkpoints in the right order, then the better you are doing.
However, orienteering is not all about speed, as you need to think, plan routes and know where you are as well. Courses can be in town parks, country parks, in town centres or forests and even on hillsides and mountains. No matter where the venue is though, the concept of orienteering is the same.
Orienteering is a fantastic sport for people of all ages and abilities to get involved with. Orienteering allows you the opportunity to get out in the fresh air, get some exercise, challenge yourself, have fun and meet people. You will learn new skills such as map reading and how to use a compass, and opportunities also exist for helping to plan and run events.
As with any sport, orienteering takes a bit of time to develop the skills and gain experience. Lagan Valley Orienteers can provide support and training to help you get the most from our sport. Juniors in our club at the age of 10 have competed in competitions in Ireland, the UK and Europe successfully navigating courses in woods and on mountainsides. Not many kids, or adults as it happens, can say they can do that!
Finally, you don’t need any specialist equipment to start orienteering other than some long running bottoms, trainers, a t-shirt and a light coat (in case it rains) – so there’s no excuse not to come along and give it a go!.
Types of Orienteering
There are lots of different types of Orienteering you can try. In Northern Ireland we mainly do foot orienteering but there is also Mountain Bike and Ski Orienteering. There are different types of foot orienteering,
- Long distance, The longest courses on offer – really a normal orienteering event.
- Middle distance, Shorter distance, but the same difficulty as Long courses.
- SPRINT Very short courses, normally in urban areas. Requires fast running!
- URBAN Full length orienteering courses in urban areas, instead of forests or mountainsides.
- SCORE In Score orienteering, you do not follow a set course but instead are given a map with lots of controls that are each worth different numbers of points – the further away ones are worth more than the closer ones. You are given a time limit and have to get as many points as possible in the time limit, and points are taken off if you arrive back late!
- NIGHT Just like normal Orienteering, except in the dark! More challenging because you really have to think about your navigation because you can’t see further than the beam of your torch.
Here is an introductory video from the British Orienteering Association…
…and an introductory video from the Irish Orienteering Association…