Eastern Washington Orienteering Club

An Orienteering Event

Before The Start

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Control markers are not hidden in orienteering. They're placed at locations that are specifically on the map. For example, a course designer wouldn't place a control out in the middle of a featureless field, but he might put one in the northeast corner of it. The idea is that if you navigate well, you'll know when you've arrived at the designated spot. Once you're there you should have no trouble finding the orange and white control flag and punch station. To make it very clear where you should look, you'll be given a clue sheet at the start. People typically tape them to the corner of their map.
The clue sheet at the far left is written in plain english. The other one says the same things using a system of symbols sanctioned by the International Orienteering Federation. At our local events we always have english clue sheets but we often have the international ones available too, in case someone would like to practice ahead of bigger events.
Clue sheets tell you the following information:
  • Control number (the order in which you're supposed to find it).
  • Flag number (so you can be sure you're at the right control).
  • Which feature (if there are two or more within the circle drawn on the map).
  • The feature.
  • A description of the feature (if necessary to clarify which feature — e.g. "shallow" or the feature's height/depth in meters).
  • Where the flag is (in relation to the feature — e.g. "at the foot" or "on the north side").

Bonus Details

  • It's probably better to tape your clue sheet to your map rather than use staples — especially if you like to hold your compass to the map while you take compass bearings. The metal staples could throw off your compass needle.
  • Some people place them in clear vinyl bags or clips and attach them to their forearm with elastic bands for easy reference. Here's one example for sale online.
  • The international symbol system isn't hard to learn and is pretty fun. You can use the symbols to make notes on your punchcard for yet another reference option.