Eastern Washington Orienteering Club

Frequently Asked Questions

What is orienteering, anyway?
Orienteering is a sport in which participants use an accurate, detailed map and a compass to find brightly colored markers placed in the landscape. It can be enjoyed as a walk in the woods or as a competitive sport. Typically, the control points are supposed to be found in a particular order. There are variations, such as “Score Orienteering” events in which people compete to see how many control points they can visit in a set amount of time, in any order they choose.
Should I feel intimidated to come to my first event?
Our events are very low-key. At most events we have a novice map course set up for people to just get the feel of how it all works. As you get the hang of it, you can try longer courses where the controls are more challenging to find. The feel is a little bit like a very small fun run. You’ll meet people out for a stroll in the woods as a family, and people that have been orienteering for decades and are challenging themselves to run a course as efficiently as they can.
Why isn’t there a specific start time for events?
We stagger the start times so that every participant (or group/family) gets to have a similar challenge of running their course without just following someone else. Normally there’s a two-hour window within which it’s okay to show up and register for a start. After you’ve registered and prepared your map let the starter know, and he or she will assign you a start time probably within a minute or two. If you’re new to the sport, will need a little longer to prepare your map, or figure it’s going to take you a long time to finish your course, try to show up toward the earlier side of the time range. It makes the day a little shorter for the volunteers, since they can’t start picking up controls from any course until everyone has returned from it.
How can I get better at orienteering?
Each year in September we host a beginning and intermediate class to help you learn what you need to get better. In the meantime, ask questions at the club events. Talking to each other about the success or failure of our various strategies is fun and how most of get better over time.
How much does an event cost to participate in?
Our fees are based around maps, and the basic map fee is $5.00 for members/$7.00 for non-members. A small group can share one map if they plan on staying together to navigate the course. A second map for a group staying together is $2.00. Maps for novice courses are always $5.00 apiece.
How does EWOC spend the start fees?
Most of our fees go to development of the maps. It costs $2000-$3000 for professional preparation of each mapped area (aerial photography and contour analysis). Volunteers still have to spend hundreds of hours creating the finished map. The club pays $1.50 for every “start” to OrienteeringUSA, mostly for liability insurance. The color maps cost $.50-$1.00 apiece — and we need extras for the course-setters and designers. At every venue the landowner (city, county, etc.) charges us a permit fee of between $10 and $100. The rest goes to the little expenses like office supplies and website hosting. As a 501c3 organization, everything we take in goes back to the furtherance of our club’s aim, which is to hold orienteering events.
How do I join the club?
Membership is $10 per year for an individual or $15 for a family. Our Treasurer, John Beck, is at almost all events and can sign you up. You don’t have to be a member to participate in any of our events, but membership saves you a couple of dollars per event and helps support our club.
Do I need a compass?
Orienteering is mostly about map-reading, but a compass does come into play. Don’t go out and buy one right away, though. The club has loaners you can use for events that are appropriate. When you decide to get your own, consider getting one that has the circle and triangle drawing templates on it. They also make special “thumb compasses” for competitive orienteering that simplify the way you hold the map and compass together on the run.
Can I use a GPS device?
A GPSr can tell you exactly where you are in the world, but not where our orienteering controls were placed. Where it might come in handy is as a learning aid. After an event you could look at your tracks and see how efficiently you navigated each leg of the course.
Can I help out at an event?
Sure! Ask at the registration area of an event and we’ll probably have something you can help with. Even if we already have a timer, he might want a break so he can go do one of the courses. Most of the time at the end of an event we could use someone to pick up control markers. Setting courses takes a little bit of training, but if you’re interested in doing it, we could get you started working with someone who has experience in it. Just let us know at an event or use the contact page.
What are some good internet resources about orienteering?
  • The national organization for orienteering in the U.S. is called OrienteeringUSA and they have a large website with a wide variety of information.
  • Kjetil Kjernsmo has a well-written page appropriately called “How To Use A Compass.”
  • An 11-year-old made a pretty darn good video as an introduction to beginning orienteers.
  • A local girl scout troop suggested this page as being a helpful general resource with several links in it to more specific information.
Are there other orienteering clubs nearby?
Here are the clubs surrounding us:
  • COC — Cascade Orienteering Club in the Seattle Area
  • CROC — Columbia River Orienteering Club in the Portland, Oregon area
  • CTOC — City of Trees Orienteering Club in Boise, Idaho
  • GVOC — Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club in the Vancouver, British Columbia region
  • KOC — Kootenay Orienteering Club in Rossland, Kimberley, and Cranbrook, British Columbia