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?
The best way to learn is to ask questions at the club events. We're making an effort to have people available during the start times of events to answer questions and give a little instruction.

Once you have the basic idea of navigating around an orienteering course talking to other participants is a great way to learn more. It doesn't sound like sophisticated advice, but it's often surprisingly helpful to see how other people have dealt with similar puzzles. If nothing else, it's fun to chat about our various successes and failures.
How much does an event cost to participate in?
Our fees are now based on each “start.” A start is an individual, or a group moving together through the whole course.

Start fee: $10
Others in a group (over 8 years old): $2 each for maps

Timing chip rental: $2 if you don't have your own "dibber"/"finger stick'

Special pricing for large youth groups:

Groups of 3: $12 each, including maps
Adult leaders: free
How does EWOC spend the start fees?
Most of our expenses are related to the events we host. At almost every venue we pay the landowner fees of between $25 and $250. The permits we get always require that we have liability insurance, which we get through OrienteeringUSA at a cost of $2 per "start."

Although orienteering isn't equipment-intensive, the equipment is expensive. Our new electronic punching equipment costs about $140 per control and we requires lots of other infrastructure to work with it.

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 $15 per year for an individual or $20 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.

You can mail a check to the following address:
PO Box 944
Spokane, WA 99210
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
  • GrizO — Grizzly Orienteering in Missoula, Montana
  • 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