Try It!

Take the “I should orienteer” quiz…

  1. I want to make my walk in the park more interesting
  2. I’m tired of just running down the road
  3. I love maps
  4. I love exploring new areas
  5. I’m looking for a new activity for my whole family
  6. I’m looking for a friendly and welcoming community
  7. I’m 8
  8. I’m 80
  9. I love the idea of mentally and physically challenging myself at the same time
  10. I love getting outdoors

If you answered yes to any of the above questions then orienteering is for you. Once you start you will be hooked for life!

Step 1: Learn more about the different types of orienteering – foot, mountain bike, cross country skiing.

Step 2: Contact a friendly club in your area.

Step 3: Check out the links below to help you get started:

A few orienteering videos:

Going to your first orienteering event…

Getting started orienteering is super easy and inexpensive!

  • Find the club closest to you and check their schedule for an upcoming event. Register in advance if applicable for show up a few minutes early to register on-site.

Once you have chosen an event, there are a few things you should know:

  • Clothing: Wear clothes that are comfortable for hiking or running and suitable for the weather that night.
  • Equipment: Bring a whistle (mandatory – you can buy them at the event) and a compass if you have them. Bring a water bottle. You may want to carry it if you choose a long course. We also recommend that everyone have a watch or cell phone so you know the time.
  • Event details: Any important details for that particular event will be on the event page so please read it carefully.
  • Membership: Depending on the club’s policies, you may need to get a club membership, these are often quite reasonable priced.


When you get to the event site, look for the registration table.

  1. Go to the registration table to become a member (if you have not already signed up online) and to sign up for a course.
  2. Let the registrar know you are new to orienteering. If you are unsure which course to sign up for the registrar can make a recommendation.
  3. Get your course map. Borrow a compass and a timing chip. If you did not bring a whistle with you, you will have to purchase one.
  4. The registrar will attempt to find an experienced orienteer to give you a brief introduction to orienteering.
  5. This volunteer will
    • Go over the basics of orienteering.
    • Review the course on your map with you.
    • Explain how to use your timing chip.
    • Ensure you understand the basic rules:
      • You MUST sign in and sign out so that we know you are safely back.
      • You must write your license plate number on the sign in form.
      • Ensure you understand how to get back to finish / registration desk in case you don’t know where you are on course.
    • Show you to the start.

At the start

Start by inserting your timing chip in the electronic unit labeled CLEAR. You will need to hold your chip in the unit until it beeps or flashes. This erases previous data from the chip. Then insert your chip in the unit labeled CHECK. This confirms that all data has been erased and you are ready to go to the start.

When you are ready to start insert your timing chip in the electronic start unit. When it beeps or flashes your course time has started and you should head out on course.

Other orienteers will be out on course at the same time. They may or may not be on the same course so stay focused on your own map.


The FINISH checkpoint/control is generally close to the registration area and often marked with a finish banner. Insert your timing chip in the FINISH unit and go to the timing table to find out your time. Orienteers love to talk about how their course went. Stay and chat with others afterwards and you may pick up a tip or two.

(thanks to Orienteering Ottawa for this content)