Orienteering can be practised almost anywhere in the world, in all kinds of terrain from parks to deserts. Orienteering terrain varies from dense, impassable bushes to treeless areas, and from mountains to plains. There are several different forms of orienteering. The international Orienteering Federation (IOF) is the world governing body for foot-orienteering, ski-orienteering, mountain bike orienteering and trail orienteering.
Competitive orienteering involves using a detailed map and a compass to navigate one's way round a course with designated control points which are drawn on the map. On the route, orange and white control markers are set in the places that correspond to the points on the map. The competitors punch their control cards at each control point. The winner of the competition is the participant who has used the shortest time to visit the control points in numerical order. Fast running alone does not make you a winner. You must also choose the best route between the control points and find the markers without wasting unnecessary seconds.
Orienteering is a worldwide sport. A common approach to the interpretation and drawing of orienteering maps is essential for fair competition and for the future growth of the sport.
These specifications should be read in conjunction with the rules for International Orienteering Federation (IOF) orienteering events. For IOF events deviations are permissable only with the sanction of the IOF Map Committee (IOF MC). For other events such sanction must be given by the national federation. In addition, there are supplementary specifications for other orienteering disciplines on the basis of the specification for foot orienteering maps.
Orienteering is a sport in which the orienteer completes a course of control points in the shortest possible time, aided only by map and compass. As in all forms of sport, it is necessary to ensure that the conditions of competition are the same for all competitors. The more accurate the map, the better this can be done, and the greater the opportunity for the course planner to set a good and fair course.
From the competitors' point of view, an accurate and legible map is a reliable guide for choice of route, and it enables them to navigate along a route chosen to suit their navigational skill and physical ability. However, skill in route choice loses all meaning if the map is not a true picture of the ground.if it is inaccurate, out-of-date or of poor legibility.
Anything which bars progress is essential information : cliffs, water, dense thickets. The path and track network shows where the going and navigation is easiest. A detailed classification of the degrees of hindrance or good going helps the competitor to make the right decisions. Orienteering is first of all to navigate by map reading. An accurate map is therefore necessary for a good and effective route choice. In the ideal case no competitor should gain an advantage or suffer a disadvantage because of faults on the map.
The aim of the course planner is a course where the deciding factor in the results will be navigational skill. This can be achieved only if the map is sufficiently accurate, complete and reliable, and is also clear and legible under competition conditions. The better the map the course planner has, the greater the chance he has of setting good, fair courses, whether for the elite or for the novice.
Controls are the most important building blocks of a course. Choice of sites, placing of the markers, checking their positions, and locating controls in competition, all put definite demands on the map. The map must give a complete, accurate and detailed picture of the terrain. For an international event, it must be up-to-date in all parts
which could affect the end result of the competition. If it is not up-to-date it must be improved.
For the mapper, the task is knowing which features to map and how to represent them. A continuing involvement in the sport is important for a basic understanding of the requirements for the orienteering map : its content, the need for accuracy, the level of detail and above all the need for legibility.
An orienteering map is a detailed topographic map. The map must contain the features which are obvious on the ground to a competitor at speed. It must show every feature which could influence map reading or route choice : land forms, rock features, ground surface, rate of progress through the vegetation (known in foot-o as runnability), main land uses, hydrography, settlements and individual buildings, the path and track network, other lines of communication and features useful from the point of view of navigation.
The shape of the ground is one of the most important aspects of an orienteering map. The correct use of contours to show a three dimensional picture of the ground.shape and height difference.cannot be overemphasized.
The degree to which a feature is recognizable, the openness of the forest and runnability of the terrain should be taken into consideration at the survey stage.
Boundaries between different types of ground surface provide valuable reference points for the map reader. It is important that the map shows these.
An orienteering speed and choice of route through the terrain is affected by many factors. Information on all of these factors must therefore be shown on the map by classifying paths and tracks, by indicating whether marshes, water features, rock faces and vegetation are passable, and by showing the characteristics of the ground surface and the presence of open areas. Clearly visible vegetation boundaries should also appear since they are useful for map reading.
The map must show the features which are obvious on the ground and which are of value from the point of view of map reading. An attempt must be made when surveying to maintain the clarity and legibility of the map, i.e. the minimum dimensions designed for normal sight must not be forgotten when choosing the degree of generalization.
The map must contain magnetic north lines and may additionally contain some place names and peripheral text to help the competitor to orientate the map to north. This text should be written from west to east. Text within the map should be placed to avoid obscuring important features and the style of lettering should be simple.
The sides of the map should be parallel to the magnetic north lines. Arrowheads may be used to show magnetic north.