Going to an event

A step by step guide for first time Orienteers

When you arrive at an event

If this is your first event or you are not sure what to do, please go to the Registration / Information / Novice area for assistance in getting started. A sign will be on display to indicate what courses are on offer for the day. You will need to choose a suitable course depending on your ability. Once you have decided, select the associated control descriptions for that course. This lists the information about the controls you will have to visit on that course, ie. A description of the feature you are looking for as well as the number on the control flag that marks that feature.

For Very Easy, Easy and Moderate courses, these descriptions will be written in English. The Hard courses will use the international symbols modified for Australia.

You will either need to complete a control card or , in most events run these days,collect an SI stick which is an electronic device you carry on your finger to register your time at each of the control sites you visit. If you are using a control card, on the reverse side is a series of boxes corresponding to the controls you will visit on your course. These boxes are used to record the control sites you have visited by means of a manual punch at each site. The card also provides information for the event organiser such as you start and finish time so that your elapsed time may be calculated. It is important to complete both sections of this card as the tear off slip at the bottom enables the organiser to check that all competitors have returned safely.   If you are using an SI stick, you will return to the computer after finishing (or abandoning) your course where you will download your results and return the SI stick.

How to Enter

Once you have selected a suitable course, completed the control card/collected your SI stick and taken a copy of the appropriate control descriptions, go to the registration table to pay your entry fee. You will then be given a copy of the map being used for that days event. When you are ready, make your way to the Start.


The start of the event may be some distance from the registration area, so before you set off, check that you have:

The route to the start will be indicated by signs and/or streamers if it is not where you are now.

At the start, wait behind the sign indicating your course for the start official to allocate you a start time and write it on your control card if you have one. If you're using an SI stick, they may check the unique number on the stick and make sure you've cleared old data from the stick.Competitors doing the same course are separated by at least two minute intervals to minimise following. While you are learning about the sport, you may go around a course with a friend or family members if you wish.

Once the start calls out the start times or the clock sounds its long beep, move to the map boxes ready to pick up your pre-marked map.

For major competitions such as a Badge Event or State Championships, a pre-marked and bagged map will be provided for each competitor.

On the map, a red triangle indicates the start of the course. The position of each control is depicted by a red circle and the finish is marked by a double circle. The numbers beside each circle indicate the order in which you must visit the controls. This order corresponds with the order on your control description list.

On the course

Once you leave the Start area you need to decide on how to navigate to your first control.

Control sites are marked by orange and white, triangular markers, called flags. These are often hung from trees and bushes, generally 1m off the ground or they could be attached to a control stands. The control number may be found on  the side of the stand or on top of the control unit attached to the top of the stand .

Flags have plastic punches attached to them which are used to mark the relevant box on the control card if these are beiing used. Each punch has a different patterned punch and this is used to indicate that you have visited the correct control site. When stands are used the punch is found on the top of the stand.If Electronic timing is being used, there will be a control unit on top of the stand ot attached to the flag inot which you insert your SI stick to register your time. The unit will beep to ensure you that it's worked.

You must visit the controls in their listed order.

At the Control

When you get to the control, check that the feature and code number on the control flag or stand match your control description list. If you are sure it is the control on your course, use the punch on the stand  to punch the corresponding numbered square on your control card, or insert your SI stick into the unit.

Move a short distance away from the control site and then plan your route to the next control.

If you are uncertain where you are:

At the Finish

At the finish banner, you will either punch with your SI stick, or have your time recorded on your control card which is handed to the finish officials. The card will then be checked to see that all the controls on your course have been visited.

Even if you have not completed your course, you must report to the Finish area so the event organiser knows that you have returned safely. You should ensure that you return by 'course closure' time or a search will be mounted.


Provisional results for the event are displayed in the assembly area. Final results are published on the Orienteering Queensland website / Eventor website.

After the Event

You might like to discuss any problems you had on your course with a more experienced orienteer or coach so that you can learn from your mistakes. Keep your map so that you can study it and perhaps draw in the route that you took between controls. You may be able to see a better route choice than the one you took.

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