Quick start

Basic Navigation Routine – Intermediate + Skills Tool Kit – Advanced Strategies and Beyond Advanced

Better Orienteering aims to help you get better at orienteering. It introduces orienteering skills in a structured way and includes videos and free downloads. It makes available self-help resources you can work through in whatever way you find most helpful. There are suggestions below for where to start depending on your prior experience or needs – from Beginner to Experienced.

Better Orienteering works through a set of ideas that will help you join up your skills effectively and use them reliably when orienteering. That is why this website, and the summary that accompanies it, are not just a list of skills.

Photo: Steve Rush BOK

If you are a newcomer who has not been orienteering before, or you have only been a few times, have a look at the Beginner section.

If you have been orienteering a while and want to build a solid basis for good navigation then look at the Basic Navigation Routine section under the Skill Levels menu. Also have a look at the Skills Tool Kit under the Intermediate section

If you are a more experienced orienteer, try looking through the Intermediate section first then, the Advanced and Beyond Advanced sections as they seem relevant. Even if you have been orienteering a long time, with over 30 contributors to Better Orienteering, you may well find some ideas or insights that are still helpful to you. It is also great if more experienced orienteers are familiar with the material on Better Orienteering and can point others to it to help them get into the sport and improve too.

If you are unsure of where to start, or you have hit a point where your orienteering is not improving then after browsing Better Orienteering you could try the self-diagnostic questions under: How well am I orienteering? It will help you identify the building blocks you need to get in place to improve.

If you are a teacher, the Teaching section will help you start finding resources. See also Books and Resources. There are videos and downloads throughout Better Orienteering that may help you, once you are clear on the level of material you are needing.

If you are in the military, this short guide to using the Better Orienteering website and resources may help.

The “Orienteering for the military” guide is not official, it was written in consultation with several ex-military personnel who are good orienteers, to help you find the material on this website that will be most useful to you. It discusses the development of your orienteering navigation in 3 broad stages and suggests how you might start to link orienteering navigation skills to other navigation challenges that are outside the remit of this website.

If you prefer to learn by just watching videos, I suggest you download the Better Orienteering Summary below then head to the Learning Videos Playlist and binge away! Hopefully you will then come back to the structured sections on skills.

Learning Videos Playlist

Better Orienteering Summary

You can download and use this summary as you work through Better Orienteering. It is a web-linked pdf so that when you click on headings or diagrams within it, it automatically opens the relevant web page on Better Orienteering. Feel free to share this summary widely as a way for people to access what is on this website.

Download this summary to use as you work through Better Orienteering

(Note: throughout Better Orienteering, text in bold is for emphasis. Links are in blue text)

What is included and linked to on Better Orienteering?

Better Orienteering Navigation model

Better Orienteering is based around this navigation model. The different elements of this model are explored in a structured way throughout Better Orienteering, applicable to different skills levels: Beginner, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Beyond. Understanding this model in more detail is mostly applicable to orienteers progressing through Intermediate level and beyond, absolute beginners need not worry about it.

Why this guide?

This guide was produced to create an easy to access resource for orienteers to find good material on how to navigate and how to improve. It draws together a lot of excellent material from many countries in one place. It has only been possible due to the generosity of many orienteers who have agreed to their videos and other material to be linked to in Better Orienteering.

Use this overview to track where you are in progressing through Better Orienteering

You can download a web-linked version of this overview graphic to share. It links back to sections of the Better Orienteering website:

Better Orienteering, after the Beginner section, is mainly aimed at club level orienteers of all ages, who have some experience and are seeking to improve.  My aim has been to summarize the key techniques that prove most helpful on a regular basis, so that they are easy to remember and apply consistently.

Once you read beyond the Beginner section, some familiarity with a range of very basic orienteering navigation techniques is assumed, such as how to take a bearing, and how to read contours.   The discussion of techniques on Better Orienteering is not intended to be exhaustive, just a structured framework covering the essentials, that you can then build on.

There is much more material in Suggested Reading.   

The only route to getting better is to make mistakes, understand what went wrong and seek to avoid repeating them. 

Improving at orienteering is largely about understanding what mistakes you made, how they came about and how to watch out for them in future.  Better orienteering then becomes a matter of routines and habits to set you up for a reasonable run, whilst being alert to a catalogue of potential errors.

Orienteering is one of the most sports there is.  Nothing else combines the high level of physical challenge resulting from running through terrain and the intense mental challenge arising from detailed navigation.  I amazed that after 40 years of orienteering there is still more to learn and much to re-learn.  The typical learning curve for new orienteers is at least 3 to 5 years to get their navigation up to a high standard and combine it with good fitness, but once you are hooked it becomes addictive.  Then you need to keep your skills fresh with practice.

Photo: Steve Rush BOK

I hope enjoy reading more on orienteering skills in whichever section is most helpful for you.

Duncan Bayliss, 2019