Get Better

Orienteering is about DISCOVERY: Picking up the basics is easy, but there’s always something new to learn.  Read on for tips on getting better.
course review

Course review and reflection

1. Talk it over!

2. Draw your route

3. Save your maps

The easiest way to get better is to talk to other orienteers. Once you’ve finished your course at an event, find other orienteers who ran the same course and see how they did. Compare your route choices for each leg, and how long it took you. Share both your perfect controls and your mistakes.

Use a red pen and draw the route you took, to the best of your memory (or based on your GPS track, downloaded later), right on the map. Make notes on the back about what you did well and where you didn’t, to help remind you for next time. 

Be sure to keep your maps! Refer back to them before next year’s event at the same venue to refresh your memory on what to do in this terrain, and what mistakes to avoid. Carry an orienteering map while you’re out jogging to practice reading on the go.

Permanent courses

Permanent courses are a great way enjoy orienteering and work on your technique between NTOA events. A “permanent” course (though they’re not really permanent — they’re always designed to be updated or removed) course contains control locations designated on a map and set up within a park or camp. At the control locations, you’ll find some kind of marker, often with an orange-and-white sticker or plaque. North Texas Orienteering Association has installed a handful of permanent courses, with more in planning stage.

Public access

Now fully repaired! (Thank you, Frank Ray!) Bob Woodruff Park, Plano: Unique smartphone-enabled course installed by NTOA member Jared Chrisman (left) as his BSA Eagle Scout project in 2014. Look for plaques with the familiar orange-and-white symbol and a QR code (right). You’ll find these plaques throughout the park on manmade objects. Scan any code with an app on your smartphone, and Jared’s program will randomly generate a 10-control course! Scan each control in order. NTOA also has an event here about once per season. Link to Google Map.

Tyler State Park, Tyler: A traditional permanent course in natural, wooded terrain, with markers throughout the park. Maps are available at the Park Store and include suggested easy, intermediate and more advanced courses by taking controls in different order. NTOA also has an annual event at Tyler State Park in April. Link to Google Map.

Boy Scout access
In coordination with the Circle Ten Council, NTOA has also installed permanent courses at two BSA scout locations:
  • Trevor Rees-Jones Camp (AKA Clements Scout Ranch), Athens
  • Camp James Ray, Pottsboro
  • Contact Circle Ten Council for information on how to access these courses, as well as obtain maps

    Online resources

    Orienteering USA: Check out the OUSA site for training materials and tips. Look for the link to their vast repository of orienteering coaching resources (via Google Doc).

    O-training.net: Ready to REALLY geek out on orienteering exercises? Check out O-training.net (shown below), an amazing wiki developed by the folks at the international orienteering news site World of O. Whatever your weakness, they have the antidote!

    O-training home page

    Virtual orienteering

    Catching Features is an online game developed by Ken Walker that lets you orienteer any time you want! It’s used by everyone from Boy Scouts to world-class orienteers to get better and have fun doing it. 

    You can run against computer opponents in virtual individual, mass-start and relay events. Or, internet play lets you race against human opponents all over the world in real time! 

    System requirements:
    1. Windows 98+: Catching Features doesn’t run on Mac or OSX, unless you can launch Windows via Parallels or Bootcamp
    2. DirectX 8.1 or higher (not included)
    3. Hardware accelerated graphics card and latest drivers
    Visit the Catching Features site to download a free demo and order online.


    Catching Features