Edinburgh Southern Orienteering Club


Doctor-O : Problem 2

Problem: I find it very hard to find controls in forests, particularly boggy forests. I find them featureless and it's hard to maintain a bearing, so I often get completely confused (and at times have been lost). What can I do to stop this happening?

Doctor-O's response: There is no doubt that as the visibility decreases e.g. from open to forest, it becomes more difficult to apply basic O-skills. For example, if trying to follow a compass bearing, it is best to carefully identify something as far away as possible in the direction you want to go, and to head for that, rather than to keep looking at your compass. Whilst this can be done relatively easily in a runnable forest, it is not so easy in forest slow-run or walk, where the trees are closer together and the visibility reduced. Following a compass bearing accurately in such terrain is likely to be slower, and less accurate, so it may be advisable to find an alternative route with an attack point close to the control.

The bogginess of the forest does not affect visibility, so why does this make it more difficult to find controls? I think this possibly comes down to concentration/focus. If your brain is thinking about where to put the feet (so as to have a firm foothold, keep dry or to move through the forest without running into a tree), it has less capacity to keep track of the direction and distance travelled, or to notice features on the map. Maybe this need for multitasking is why ESOC ladies are, allegedly, better at orienteering than the ESOC men ;-)