Drill the Skill - Orienteering Skill Drills

31 December 2015

Now we are at the edge of 2015 - and all that is on our minds is how to improve our game in 2016. But there are only that many orienteering trainings and competitions in the calendar. So here is an idea to train a fundamental skill without even having to head out into the real world.

It is back to basics and it is really 3 skills in one drill. Map Orientation, Map Folding and Thumbing - so bring out an old map and your compass and start working the magic that is going to make orienteering any course a breeze.

Really it is just going through the steps that has proved to be a good foundation to set you up for smooth orienteering execution .

1. Locate the start triangle and then the first control. 
2. Fold your map to include a good number of controls and at the same time to a size that feel good in your hand as well as enable you to do thumbing (See step 4)
3. Orientate the map (Line up the north lines with north on your compass - then line up your body so that the start triangle is in front of your naval button and the line to the first control is straight out in front of you - like in the direction you are going to move)
4. Thumb your map (move your thumb or the pointy bit of your thumb compass along the route you are going to take - when you're out in the real world doing a real course - the idea is that your thumb is just next to where you last knew on the map, where you were and then move on the thumb when you identify your new position)
5. Make sure that the map is orientated all the time and hold the map straight in front of you when you look at it (not having the map flapping around out to one side or another when you look at it)

Then move on to the second leg and so forth through the whole course. In the real world a sneaky moment is when you have to refold your map to see the next number of controls, because you might lose focus on the actually orienteering, so keep focus and get your thumb back (or pointy bit of thumb compass) in the current position, orientate the map and then move on.

Try and do this regularly to get a good feel for the skills eg. one map/course every week or every second day.

Lots more could be said about this, but the main thing is to try to automate these steps above and you're well setup for your orienteering in 2016.

Just comment if you have any questions and/or other recommendations.

This post is inspired by the first exercise from the 2015 Year 4-8 Camp at Spencer Park a couple of weeks ago, where over 50 younger dudes ran around practicing these skills in the real world.

Carsten Jørgensen