Rich Wendling's Orienteering Page
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A Typical Course

A standard orienteering course consists of a start, a series of control markers, and a finish. Each participant is provided with a map, a control card, and a clue sheet. A control card is used to note the start and finish times, and to verify that the orienteer has visited each of the control markers on the course. The map is used to mark the start and finish locations, as well as the locations of each of the control markers. image of a typical course Sometimes the maps are pre-marked, but other times the orienteer is required to copy the locations from a master map. The clue sheet has clues describing the placement of each of the control markers - the type of geographical feature at which the marker has been placed - and a "control code" which identifies the marker. Usually, the start times are staggered in order to reduce the tendency to follow other participants.

Once the course has been begun, each orienteer uses the map to navigate sequentially from control marker to control marker. Each control marker has an identifying control code and a "punch" that the orienteer uses to mark the control card. Different punches make different patterns on the card, thereby verifying that each control marker has been visited. At the finish, the time is noted on the control card. Meet officials then verify that the correct punches are on the card, and calculate the elapsed time.