Newcomer Information

Orienteering with the Backwoods Orienteering Klub

We invite you to try orienteering with us.

  • We welcome beginners and have a class to teach you the basics.
  • You should bring water and wear clothes appropriate for a walk in the woods.
  • You will navigate through the woods using only a map and compass to find the controls, which are orange and white flags, that we set out.
  • We supply the map with the course on it,  and we can loan you a compass and rent you the electronic timing device we call a “finger stick”.
  • We set out easy as well as expert courses so that beginners can succeed and experts will be challenged.  Easy courses follow trails and creeks.  You can do this solo, or with a friend.
  • It is great for both kids as well as adults, and you can walk or run, whatever you prefer.

BOK has some events for everyone and some just for members.

  • Open Events: Everyone is welcome.  Starts begin at noon.  We offer a beginners class at 12:30. (Groups over 5 must pre-register)
    • Fees:
    • BOK Members Free  (Membership Information)
    • Not a BOK Member – $7 for each non-member entry which includes one map. People going out together as a group can register as one entry
    • $2 for each additional map so everyone in your group can have a map.
    • $5 for rental of “finger stick”.  Each entry must have a “finger stick”  for safety and timing.  The finger stick is used to “punch in” at each “control” (a “control” is the checkpoint flag you are looking for.)  You can purchase your own finger stick to avoid this expense at our events.
    • Whistle: Bring a whistle or buy one for $1.  You must have a whistle to participate.
  • Members Events: Must be a BOK member. (Everyone is welcome to join BOK.)  Check the calendar for start times and course closing times. Confirm the difficulty level because many members events are at the expert level only. It’s best if you have your own Finger Stick.
  • Pre-registration: Check the calendar.  Most members events require Pre-registration.
You will find directions to our events on the schedule page.  When you arrive at an event venue look for our red and white signs guiding you to the starting location.  If you are planning to come with a group of more than five, please e-mail us in advance and follow the group pre-registration procedure so we will be sure to print enough maps.
We hope to see you at our events.  Read on for more detailed information…


Definition of Orienteering

Orienteering is a sport which involves the mind and body. It can be an individual sport, or shared with your friends or family. With the aid of a map and compass you find your way on foot across the countryside from check point to check point. Your imagination and skills help you to choose the best route. You set your own pace in orienteering. It can either be a casual hike through the woods with the added fun of using an excellent map to find the controls, or a competitive race of navigational skill, quick decisions and physical speed.

The course has orange and white markers called controls at the check point locations designated on your map. You visit each control and verify that you were there by inserting your “finger stick” into the control station.   After visiting all the controls on your course you proceed to the finish and check in.

Course Levels

At each meet there will be at least four courses ranging in difficulty from novice to expert. The courses are designated by color. The entry level is White, about 1.6 – 2 kilometers long. It uses mostly trails. The next level is Yellow, intermediate, (2.5 – 3   Km) where some off trail shortcuts will come in handy. Then it’s Orange, advanced, (3.3  – 3.5  Km) where off trail hiking becomes important. Finally there are the expert courses that attempt to challenge an expert’s navigating skills — the Brown, (3.6  3.8  Km), Green (5.4-5.7 Km), Red ( 6.4 – 7    Km), and Blue (>7.5 Km). [Very detailed course descriptions] There will always be someone there to show beginners what they need to know to get started. The short beginners class explains orienteering, the map, and the compass. We will loan you a compass if you need one.  When you are ready to move to Orange we  occasionally have an Intermediate Skills class to help you succeed.

Types of Events

Here are some of the different types of events that are offered as either Open or Members events.  Be sure to check the Difficulty level on the schedule, because you must have completed a course at or above that level to attend the event.

  • Classic Events: These are our premier Open events where we offer all of the Difficulty levels and have beginners instruction.  Each course has an assigned route and the controls must be taken in order.  You must visit all the controls on your course and the shortest time wins.  Unless otherwise stated, courses open at noon and close at 3pm, and pre-registration is not required.
  • Sprint Events: These are short courses at the Advanced difficulty with lots of controls and direction changes.  Usually there are two courses and you can do both.  Other courses may also be available.  Must pre-register at least two days before the event.
  • Score Events: In Score events you may take the controls in any order and there is a strict time limit with penalties for returning overtime.  Controls have a point value depending on their difficulty, and the high score wins. The Difficulty level will be specified in the schedule. There may be other rules as well.
  • Night Events: Usually a score course with a mass start, where everyone starts at the same time.  the event starts after dark, so check the calendar for start times. Be sure to check the Difficulty level on the schedule.  Must pre-register at least two days before the event.
  • Relay Event: Similar to a Sprint with short complex courses.  There is a mass start with one person starting from each team.  When a team member finishes the next team member starts.  Check the difficulty level, usually at the Advanced level.   Must pre-register at least two days before the event.
  • Radio Orienteering: Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) is the sport of finding radio transmitters on foot, using radio receiver, map, and compass in diverse, wooded terrain.  We have a limited amount of equipment to loan out so please contact us if you are interested in attending an ARDF event.  ARDF information

Time to Arrive & Time on the Course

Unless the schedule specifies a different time, you should arrive between noon and 1:30 PM. There will be a free lesson for beginners at 12:30 P.M. If there is an intermediate class you will need to pre-register for it on our website, and it usually starts at 8:30 am. The entry fee for the event is free for members and $5.00 for non-members.  A “finger stick” is required and we rent them for $5 at each event.  You can purchase them on our website for under $40. The entry can be for a single person, or for a small group, and includes one map. Extra maps for other group members are $2 each.  We have some loaner compasses for your use. Orienteering can be an individual sport, or you can go out in small groups. If you finish your course quickly there may be time for you to try a more difficult one when you finish. The shortest courses are usually done in 20 to 60 minutes, while the longest most difficult usually take 1 to 2.5 hours.

What To Expect At a Meet

You should dress for a walk through the woods. It is usually best to wear long pants in case you decide to take a shortcut off the trails. In the summer you should carry water.  After you arrive, first look over the different courses that are available, and after deciding on the course you want you can fill out your registration card.  Be sure to include your car description and license number.  Then take your filled out registration form to the registration table.  After registering, you get your map and “finger stick”.   On your map you will find the course.  The course start is marked with a triangle, the controls are marked with circles, and the finish is two concentric circles.  (Usually the start and finish are at the same place.) There are also descriptions of where the control is placed within the circle that you use in conjunction with the locations marked on the map. There is also a number on each control flag so you know that you have found the right one.

When you are ready to start, you go to the start table and put your finger stick into the “clear box” and pull it out as soon as it beeps to remove any old information on the finger stick.  Then you give the starter your registration card.  The starter will place it in an “Out on the Course” clipboard for your course.  In a short time you will get the signal to begin. Then you put your finger stick into the “start control box” and your time has begun.  Now you go out on your course and find all the controls on your map in order.  After you finish the course you end your time by putting your “finger stick” into the “finish box”.  Then you take your registration card off the “Out on the Course” clipboard and put it in the “Finished Clipboard”. If you don’t take your registration card off the Course and put it in the Finished clipboard we will think you are still out on the course.  We keep track of who is out in the woods, and will send a search party out for you if you are late.  Be sure to move your registration form to the “Finished Clipboard” when you are done.

After you put your finger stick into the “start box” you figure out the best way to get to the first control. At the beginner levels there will usually be a trail that you can use most or all of the way. At the advanced level it is more likely that you will have to find your way without using trails all that much. When you get to the first control you should check the number code to be sure you are where you think you are. If you are right, then you insert your “finger stick” into the control box hanging at the top of the control flag to “punch” the control.  You should notice a “beep” and a light flash.  Then you figure out how to get to the next control.  If you skip a control and punch the next one, and you don’t want to be disqualified, go back to the control you missed and then continue on your course from there including the out of order control you already punched.  It doesn’t matter if you have punched extra controls as long as all the controls are in order when the extra controls are ignored.  When you have found all the flags, or it is nearly 3:00 PM, it is time to return and check back in. When you finish, you will find folks hanging around eating snacks and discussing the courses with others. Shortly after 3:00 PM we will retrieve the flags from the woods. Those who want to go out again, divvy up the locations, and go out and bring back the flags. Come to one of our meets — if you like maps, you’ll love orienteering.

Here are the details on using the “Finger Sticks” at an event

Competition, Walking or Running

Whether you want a pleasant walk with a map through places you haven’t been before, or a challenging race through the forest, we hope you’ll join us at our next orienteering event. About half the people at each event walk to enjoy the woods, and about half are racing for the best time on their course.

What about the club?

The Backwoods Orienteering Klub (with a “K” to reflect our Swedish heritage) is your source for orienteering meets and local and regional information. We are affiliated with the Orienteering USA, and the International Orienteering Federation (IOF). Consider joining our club. Members can participate in our members only events like orienteering at night, and special training seminars.  Membership is $30 for an individual and $45 for a family, and includes all local (class C) event fees.  Memberships run from September to September.  Memberships begun after March are half price, and memberships begun after June go until September of the next year.

To stay informed be sure to check the website regularly or join our notice list which sends notices once or twice a month.

Orienteering Maps

Our maps are five color IOF standard maps which we produce just for orienteering. They are so detailed, that boulders and gullies which are only three feet in size are indicated on the map. If you enjoy walking in the woods, or using topographic maps you will have fun orienteering. Once you are familiar with the maps you will be amazed at how easy it is to know exactly where you are when you are “out in the middle of nowhere”. If you are looking for a challenging walk through the woods, or a competitive sport where strength and speed alone is not enough and thinking is very important, then orienteering is your sport.

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the meets.

[[Category:Orienteering in the United States|Clubs]]
[[Category:Orienteering clubs|United States]]


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