Getting Started

Who can orienteer?

Everyone. You can orienteer whether you are;

  • 8 or 80;
  • a novice or an elite athlete;

Many events have "string" courses for even younger children.

What do you do?

In orienteering, you use a special map to follow a route. The route goes through a number of control points to the finish. Beginners courses will follow strong features such as paths; while the experts will have to navigate through the forests or across the moors and fields. Each "control point" is a distinctly mapped feature, such as a path junction or hilltop. It is marked with an orange-and-white flag.

The Thinking Sport

Most events use staggered starts, to help ensure that you get to navigate on your own without interference. The route you take between controls is up to you. You select which way of travelling between controls will be the most efficient for you. The element of route choice is what makes orienteering a mental challenge. It is not enough to simply be able to move faster than other orienteers, you must out-think them as well. Because of this, Orienteering is often called the "thinking sport" because it involves map reading and quick decision-making in addition to athletic ability. What do I need

Getting Started

FVO have three great ways to get started:

  • Try our WEE Wednesday Evening Events
    • we run these in the early summer months Apr-Jun on a roughly weekly basis. Details on our event page
  • Try our CAT Come and Train event
    • we try to put these on roughly once a month. T, typically at weekends in the autumn and early part of the year. Details on our events page
  • Try our Permanent Courses
    • These are open all year. Maps for Abbey Craig and Plean available to download for free from our permanent courses page

What to wear

  • Long trousers covering the legs are best. Tracksuit bottoms will do, the lighter the better, or any old clothes. Jeans are not a good idea, as if it is wet they hold water and take a long time to dry.
  • A T-shirt is fine for the upper body is the weather is fine; though you may want to consider long sleeves and/or extra light layer if it is colder
  • For footwear - running shoes are best; but any shoes with a good grip will do.

Remember, that what you wear might well get dirty and/or wet - so you might want to consider some clean clothes to change into after your run. Don't forget the spare shoes and socks. Orienteering courses often have some quite muddy bits in them

Extras you might like to consider are waterproofs, a woolly hat and gloves if you think you might get cold.

Maps and punching

These days at events, almost all the maps are printed on waterproof paper - so that they still hold up pretty well even in the wet. The courses you will be running are generally pre-printed on the maps.

Many events now use electronic punching to show that you have visited to the control sites. It's easy to hire the electronic punches at the event - the cost can be low or even free (though a charge will be made if you loose the electronic punch). Some smaller events still use a use an 'old-fashioned' punch hanging from the flag to mark your control card (which is given to you when you register on the day of the event). The patterns of the punches vary - so the patterns show you have been to the correct control.

What next

We look forward to seeing you at an event. Please make yourself known and ask for help .. we are a friendly bunch. So, please either

  • come along to one of FVO's events and ask for help if you would like some
  • contact our secretary for more information
  • look up further what to do's on the SOA website (That's the Scottish Orienteering Association)
  • use this online resource to improve your orienteering technical skills: Better Orienteering