Orienteering is a sport for people of all ages and varying fitness levels. It simply doesn't matter - everything can be done at your own pace. If you enjoy good exercise and getting out in the countryside then try Orienteering.
Starting orienteering requires no special equipment - just wear what you would normally wear for a walk in the countryside.
Orienteering is a sport of navigation. Competitors navigate their way between control points that are marked on a map drawn specially for Orienteering. They navigate using a compass and a description card. There are two methods used to record whether you have visited the correct control points.
Method One - Pin Punches
At each control point the competitor must punch his/her control card with a pin punch as proof that that control point has been visited. Each pin punch puts a unique pattern of holes in the control card.
Method Two - Electronic Punches
Watch this video for an introduction to orienteering using e-punching.
There are two versions of this used in the UK, SportIdent and Emit. In each case the competitor carries an electronic Dibber or Brick and at each control they must place the dibber or brick on the controls electronic station at which point the two exchange information which is downloaded at the finish and from which you are given your time for the course and the 'Splits' time taken between each control and from which the Final Results are compiled.
Each competitor is timed and it is the fastest competitor over their selected distance that wins. There are varying scales of difficulty ranging from easy courses at around 1-2 km to difficult courses that can vary from 6 km onwards. There are also different age classes for competitions. In either case at most Orienteering events there will be a course suitable for the newcomer or the expert.
If you would like to try Orienteering it is advisable to begin at a Local or District Event. When you progress you can move onto Regional, National and Championship Events.
Still not convinced? Orienteering is a cheap sport to participate in. Once you have bought the equipment you will rarely spend anything else. Also you can participate in Orienteering on your own or with other people, it's entirely up to you - so give it a go!