AY Honor Orienteering Answer Key used by South Pacific Division

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Orienteering AY Honor.png
Skill Level
Approval authority
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Year of Introduction
See also


Session One – Basics


What is Orienteering?

An orienteer at a control point

Orienteering is an International sport originating in Sweden in 1918 invented by Major Ernst Killander. The sport involves travelling through a course of controls where a card is stamped or a question is answered before moving on to the next control and on to the finish. The winner is the person to have the shortest time getting to all controls. Another version is a scored event where the competitor chooses which controls to visit in a set time. In this event the controls have different score values and points are deducted for being over time. In some competitions there are multiday events and have ability recognised courses. White Courses for the beginner, Yellow Courses, Orange Courses, Red Courses for the more experienced. Map and compass skills are an advantage for beginners and for experienced competitors a must. Orienteering Clubs usually have an Event each month. Events can include the following modes of transportation: running, mountain biking, canoeing, snow skiing, night events, memory events.


Explain the map symbols

The map symbols can be divided into several groups: Land forms, rock and boulders, water and marsh, vegetation, man-made features, technical symbols, and overprinting symbols. The symbols used should be explained in a separate legend section.

Land forms


Land forms are contours, slope lines, contour values, earth bank, knoll, depression, small depression, pit, broken ground, and special land form features. These symbols are drawn with brown colour. The contour interval is usually 5 m but can be less.

Rock and boulders

This group covers cliffs, boulders, boulder fields and clusters, and stony or sandy ground. Black color is used for these symbols.

Water and marsh

Lakes, ponds, waterholes, rivers, water channels, marshes, wells. The symbols are drawn with blue color.


Vegetation: White color is forest, yellow is open area, and green indicates reduced runability.

Green and yellow colors are used to indicate runability. White is woody area with good runability. Yellow color shows open area, while the green color represents density of the forest and of the undervegetation. Darker green means lower runability, scaling from easy running (white), to slow running, difficult, very difficult, and impassable. Green vertical stripes are used for area with dense undergrowth (slow or difficult running) but otherwise good visibility. Cultivated land (normally prohibited area due to growing crops) is shown with black dots on yellow background.

Man-made features

Man-made features are roads, tracks, paths, bridges, railway, powerlines, stone walls, fences, buildings, etc. Drawn with black color.

Technical symbols

Magnetic north line, and other symbols.

Course Symbols

Course starts at the triangle and ends at the double circle symbol

Overprinting symbols The course is printed in purple colour. It consists of symbols for start, control points, control numbers, lines between control points, and finish. Extra information may also be shown, such as dangerous area, forbidden route, first aid post, and refreshment point.


Name all the parts of a compass

The Silva compass is a very good one to use on map work. It has a plastic see through base. To get a good picture with a label of what each part is called check out google images. Some competitors make a small compass that is attached to the thumb.

  1. Scales. Inches and mm
  2. Transparent base plate
  3. North on dial
  4. Magnetic needle north end
  5. Liquid filed housing with graduated dial and orienting line
  6. Direction of travel arrow
  7. Magnifying lens
  8. Index pointer (for setting bearings and reading
  9. Orienting arrow
  10. Dial graduations 360 deg


Orientate your map using a compass

All Orienteering maps have magnetic grid lines. Line up the compass magnetic needle to parallel the magnetic grid lines.


Complete your first course

Find a club close to you. Most have their programmes on a web site. Pay the small fee to compete. This pays for your map and helps the club cover operating costs. Compasses can sometimes be borrowed from the club. Have lots of fun. Feel free to ask the organizers lots of helpful questions. Usually the club will send you a monthly newsletter with the results of the courses. This is a cheap family activity. You do not need any special clothing, unless you get more experienced and enter lots of national competitions.


Session Two – Advanced Map Work


Show your knowledge of land formations

Knoll, small knoll, depression, small hole, small depression, earth bank, Re-entrant, hill, pond, rocks and boulders.

There are more formations that you can recognize with time and experience.


Show your knowledge of contour lines

Contour lines are lines of the same altitude and can be 2.5 m apart, so small differences in land forms are easy to spot. These lines also give a good idea of the shape of the land you are to travel through and this may alter the line of travel choice to get to the next control.


Show your understanding of scale

The map scale is normally 1:7500, but other scales are also produced for various purposes. 1:15000 means that one mm on the map represents 15000 mm on the ground which equates to 1mm on the map equalling 15 metres on the ground


Show how to set your compass to a bearing

Setting compass to a bearing

When the needle is aligned with and superimposed over the outlined orienting arrow on the bottom of the capsule, the degree figure on the compass ring at the direction-of-travel (DOT) indicator gives the magnetic bearing to the target (mountain).


Complete a theoretical orienteering exercise

A good exercise for a group is to find a reasonably flat area of ground. Mark the starting spot. Prepare to walk on a 180 deg bearing get one of your group to walk 20 steps on the bearing the compass holder cab correct his walk then the rest of the group joins him, swap rolls and continue for another 20 steps. Repeat this 3 more times. Next the group walks 10 steps on a 90 deg bearing. Prepare to walk on a 360 deg bearing and go in stages as before. After the 5 stages find how close you are to the start mark. The group should be 20 steps away from the mark and it should be on a bearing of 270 deg. Another exciting version of this is to have slightly sloping ground and do it at night with candles or torches.


Complete a Scored Event

Score Event

Competitors visit as many controls as possible within a time limit. There is usually a mass start (rather than staggered), with a time limit. Controls may have different point values depending on difficulty and there is a point penalty for each minute late. The competitor with the most points is the winner. The large-scale, endurance-style version of a Score-O is known as a rogaine, competed by teams in events lasting (often) 24 hours. A very large area is used for competition, and the map scale is smaller. The format originated in Australia. The term ROGAINE is often said to stand for Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigation and Endurance; this is essentially a backronym, as the name actually originates from the names of Rod, Gail and Neil Phillips, who were among Australian Rogaining's first participants.


Session Three – Further Techniques


Show your knowledge of “aiming off”

This is a technique of purposely going of the compass bearing knowing that you are heading for a fence, path, small track. For example you are not following a track but though easy run able open forest your next control is 250 m away on a 90 deg bearing along a fence line. To save time in finding the control you purposely choose to head slightly to the left of the bearing so you know once you get to the fence line the control has to be along the fence a bit to your right. With out ”aiming off” if you stuck to the bearing and arrived at the fence and you were not accurate enough you would not know if the control was to the left or to the right.


Show your knowledge of using “attack points”

Large or obvious features near control

Safest version is the crossing of two handrail features advanced example is a special shaped knoll in amongst many knolls

Use as preview to finding control

Advanced technique may use 2 or more attack points e.g. a huge knoll about 1-200m from control, then a re-entrant on the side of the knoll, then the pit that is the control feature.


These are an essential part of any route. It is worth going a bit out of your way to follow them for basic and intermediate level orienteering. They can be tracks, edge of vegetation, mapped fences, streams, clearings etc. You can link point features together to make a line.


Find your own pace count

Walk for 500m counting how may steps you have taken. From this you can really accurately measure distance you need to travel on a map to the reality of walking a trail so you know where you are and how close you are to the next control or track junction turn off.


Explain your understanding of “stoplight thinking”

Stop (Red): When you are near the next control stop have a good look around check the map see where you have to go immediately after the control.

Caution (Orange): Approach the control tactfully check that the number is correct make little noise or marks on ground.

Go (Green): No need to hang around and give the controls position away to another searcher, and you already know where to go next so go man go!!


Prepare an Orienteering Map

While map drawing earlier was done by hand, in later years special programs have been developed for construction of digital maps.


Complete a night course

Lots of fun. Take a good torch hand held or a head lamp. Some purists do not like you having a real powerful torch. For the first time choose an easier course than that you would normally do in the day time.

About the Author


Hi from New Zealand

Geoff Harvey worked for 13 years selling electrical and plumbing materials to tradespeople. For a year I was primarily in charge of the electrical sales counter and had some control of ordering stock. For a number of months I filled in as the company electrical sales rep one day a week where I would travel to Te Anau and Manapouri. Since working there my wife and I did a little interior and exterior decorating mainly painting and gib repairs including in a couple of doctors surgeries. Then stooking oats and chaff cutting. The boss there was starting up a new retail business so I was involved in shifting old 'rubbish' from his old shed to storage. Doing 3 phase electrical wiring up of motors etc. Builders assistant in the building of his new home. About this time I took on driving a school bus for our church school and then doing general maintenance and coal fired boiler maintenance at a residential home. 25 years later (2020) I drive the school bus for Southland Adventist Christian School and work at Bainfield Park Residential Care.

My family consists of me, my wife, 4 children. Oldest son is working in the NZRAF, next son at present working for Downers working on Christchurch southern motorway, daughter 1 after graduating at University Canterbury did a stint of waitressing at Mt Cook then worked at Big Lake Youth Camp in Oregon in the Summer and at Whistler Canada for the winter. COViD 19 came so she returned to NZ daughter 2 graduated at UC and is now working in aged care sector.

Currently I am the Director of the Invercargill Pathfinder Club. Have been involved in Pathfindering leadership in various positions for about 41 years Received PLA badge. Love the outdoors: tramping, canoeing, music (piano keyboard and singing). My church life is busy sometimes too busy. I have reduced my church profile over the last few years. Limiting my tasks to AV team leader, Sabbath School Various. Church Clerk and of course Pathfinders.