Competitive Fitness Activities - Orienteering

Orienteering is a competitive form of land navigation. It combines map reading, compass use, and terrain study with strategy, competition, and exercise.
This makes it an excellent activity for any training schedule.
An orienteering course is set up by placing control points or marker signs over a variety of terrain. The orienteer or navigator uses a detailed topographical map and a compass to negotiate the course. The map should be 1:25,000 scale or larger. A liquid-filled orienteering compass works best. The base of the compass is transparent plastic, and it gives accurate readings on the run. The standard military, lensatic compass will work even though it is not specifically designed for the sport.
The best terrain for an orienteering course is woodland that offers varied terrain. Several different courses can be setup in an area 2,000 to 4,000 yards
square. Courses can be short and simple for training beginners or longer and more difficult to challenge the advanced competitors.
The various types of orienteering are described below.

This popular type of orienteering is used in all international and championship events. Participants navigate to a set number of check or control points in a designated order. Speed is important since the winner is the one who reaches all the control points in the right order and returns to the finish area in the least time.

Quick thinking and strategy are major factors in score orienteering. A competitor selects the check-points to find based on point value and location. Point values throughout the course are high or low depending on how hard the markers are to reach. Whoever collects the most points within a designated time is the winner. Points are deducted for returning late to the finish area.

Line orienteering is excellent for training new orienteers. The route is premarked on the map, but checkpoints are not shown. The navigator tries to walk or run the exact map route. While negotiating the course, he looks for checkpoints or control-marker signs. The winner is determined by the time taken to run the course and the accuracy of marking the control points when they are found.

This variation is also excellent for beginners. The navigator follows a route that is clearly marked with signs or streamers. While negotiating the course, he records on the map the route being taken. Speed and accuracy of marking the route determine the winner.

This variation is also excellent for beginners. The navigator follows a route that is clearly marked with signs or streamers. While negotiating the course, he records on the map the route being taken. Speed and accuracy of marking the route determine the winner.

Urban orienteering is very similar to traditional types, but a compass, topographical map, and navigation skills are not needed. A course can be set up on any installation by using a map of the main post or cantonment area. Soldiers run within this area looking for coded location markers, which are numbered and marked on the map before the start. This eliminates the need for a compass. Soldiers only need a combination map-scorecard, a watch, and a pencil.
Urban orienteering adds variety and competition to a unitís PT program and is well suited for an intramural program. It also provides a good cardiovascular workout.

Participants and Rules
Urban orienteering is conducted during daylight hours to ensure safety and make the identification of checkpoint markers easy. Soldiers form two-man teams based on their APFT 2-mile-run times. Team members should have similar running ability. A handicap is given to slower teams. At the assembly area, each team gets identical maps that show the location of markers on the course. Location markers are color-coded on the map based on their point value. The markers farthest from the assembly area have the highest point values. The maps are labeled with a location number corresponding to the location marker on the course. A time limit is given, and teams finishing late are penalized. Five points are deducted for each minute a team is late. While on the course, team members must stay together and not separate to get two markers at once. A team that separates is disqualified. Any number of soldiers may participate, the limiting factors being space and the number of points on the course.

Playing the Game
Once the soldiers have been assigned a partner, the orienteering marshal briefs them on the rules and objectives of the game. He gives them their time limitations and a reminder about the overtime penalty. He also gives each team a combination map/scorecard with a two-digit number on it to identify their team. When a team reaches a location marker, it records on the scorecard the letters that correspond to its two-digit number.
Point values of each location marker are also annotated on the scorecard. When the orienteering marshal signals the start of the event, all competitors leave the assembly area at the same time. One to two hours is the optimal time for conducting the activity.
For this example, team number 54 found the marker. The letters corresponding to 54 are LD, so they place ďLDĒ on line 39 of their scorecard. This line number corresponds to the locationís marker number. When the location marker code is deciphered, the team moves on to the next marker of its choice. Each team goes to as many markers as possible within the allotted time. After all teams have found as many location markers as possible and have turned in their map/scorecards, the points are computed by the orienteering marshal to determine the teamsí standings. He has the key to all the points and can determine each teamís accuracy. Handicap points are then added. Each soldier gets points if his 2-mile-run time is slower than 12 minutes. The teamsí standings are displayed shortly after the activity ends.

Safety Briefing
The orienteering marshal gives a safety briefing before the event starts. He reminds soldiers to be cautious while running across streets and to emphasize that team members should always stay together.

Set Up and Materials
The course must be well thought out and set up in advance. Setting up requires some man-hours, but the course can be used many times. The major tasks are making and installing location markers and preparing map/scorecard combinations. Once the location marker numbers are marked and color coded on the maps, they are covered with combat acetate to keep them useful for a long time. Combat acetate (also called plastic sheet) can be purchased in the self-service supply center store under stock number 9330-00-618-7214.
The course organizer must decide how many location markers to make and where to put them. He should use creativity to add excitement to the course. Suggestions for locations to put point markers are as follows: at intersections, along roads in the tree line, on building corners, and along creek beds and trails. They should not be too hard to find. To help teams negotiate the course, all maps must be precisely marked to correspond with the placement of the course-location markers.