Intermediate Orienteering Skills

Lesson 9: Cross-Checking the Map, Compass and Forest

By Anthony Scott, 2020

As you do each leg, make certain your map is always orientated to north, and then constantly cross-check the features on the map with the features around you in the forest. The more you cross-check, the less chance of making an error. Check your direction and cross-check the features around you. If you carefully thumb the map (keep the tip of the compass on the current location on the map) this cross-checking can be done at a slow run, or with a quick pause. When you cross-check, look ahead into the distance and also to the left and right. You might even look behind to see what you’ve passed. Practice looking to each side, and keep looking all around you. But don’t just look, you must also process all the information you see, by interpreting it and then checking it with the features on your map.

When you reach your attack point, slow down and watch the map and the forest even more carefully. Take your time, and guide yourself into the control by scanning the forest all around you and cross-checking the detail with your map. Also, if you open your eyes and look all around, you’ll often see the control flag from quite a long distance away. And don’t hesitate to turn around and look behind, just in case you have passed it!
So in summary; always cross-check the map, the compass and the forest, looking left, right and ahead.

In Summary

Always cross-check the map, the compass and the forest, looking left, right and ahead.

“Leaving control 2, I carefully check my exit direction heading south-east over a small knoll towards a group of boulders, keeping the top of the hill on my left hand side. I can see the cleared saddle ahead of me, and pass a termite mound. I run across the saddle, heading towards two boulders, then contour around the southern side of a small ridge line, cross-checking the rock surface on my right (and very slightly below me). I slow down as I cross a very shallow gully and run under a cliff (my attack point). Staying at the same height, I cross another shallow gully and when I look ahead I can see a rock surface, a boulder cluster and a thicket. I head towards the boulder cluster and find the control flag on the eastern side.”