Course Levels

via http://www.us.orienteering.org/new-o/select-course

This is a description of the standard orienteering course levels and the skills required to do each one — ordered from easiest to hardest. This list is to help you decide which orienteering course and/or which training session to select. Above all, remember that orienteering is intended to be fun. Choose the course which challenges your current skill level but is still easy enough to be fun for you.

  • White – for the beginner
  • Yellow – for the experienced beginner
  • Orange – for the intermediate level orienteer
  • Brown – shorter course for the advanced orienteer
  • Green – short course for the advanced orienteer
  • Red – longer course for the advanced orienteer
  • Blue – longest course for the advanced orienteer

White Course – for the beginner

Choose this novice course if you are just beginning to orienteer and have had little or no experience. Before starting you should know:

  • how to interpret map symbols and colors (legend).
  • how to orient the map to North using a compass and/or land features.
  • what are the basic objectives (rules) of orienteering competition.
  • what to do when hopelessly lost (how to user a “safety bearing”).

This course is designed to introduce you to, and give you experience in:

  • following land features (“handrails” such as trails, roads and streams)
  • learning to relate the map to features on the ground
  • judging the distance between control locations
  • gaining self-confidence in map reading

Yellow Course – for the experienced beginner

Choose this beginner course if you have had some experience with orienteering and are quite comfortable with the beginner course, or have done a lot of hiking using topographical maps. Before starting you should know:

  • everything listed for the white course above
  • how to read contour lines
  • how to select and follow a “handrail”
  • how to select and use an “attack point”
  • how to interpret a scale and judge rough distance
  • how to take a rough compass bearing
  • how to select a route choice (safer vs. shorter)
  • how to “recover” from an error by backtracking to last known point

This course is designed to introduce you to, and give you experience in:

  • following handrails to an attack point (rather than to the control)
  • taking a bearing from the attack point to the control
  • judging fine distance between the attack point and the control
  • selecting between simple route choices
  • recognizing “collecting features” and “catching features”
  • reading and interpreting contours
  • recovering using attack points and maps features

Orange Course – for the intermediate level orienteer

Choose this intermediate course if you are moderately experienced with orienteering, you have mastered the white course and done a few yellow courses and been very comfortable with them. Before starting you should know:

  • everything listed for the white and yellow courses
  • how to navigate with or without a “handrail”
  • how to select and use “collecting features” and “catching features”
  • how to “aim off”
  • how to “simplify” a map
  • how to follow a compass bearing
  • how to recognize and avoid “parallel errors”
  • how to read IOF control descriptions

This course is designed to introduce you to, and give you experience in:

  • how to navigate cross-country with confidence
  • make route choices (according to your personal strengths and weaknesses)
  • recovering from “parallel errors” and other mistakes
  • fine map reading while traveling
  • visualization of contours
  • judging physical challenges and pacing yourself

Green Course – short course for the advanced orienteer

Choose this competitive level course if you are an experienced orienteer and have done several orange courses with confidence. Before starting you should know:

  • everything listed for the other courses
  • how to “pace count”
  • advanced techniques such as attacking from above, contouring, thumbing your map, red light, yellow light, green light
  • how to evaluate your own physical and orienteering skills
  • extensive recovery techniques

This course is designed to give you experience in:

  • pacing yourself (physically)
  • recognizing the challenges presented to you by the course setter
  • perfecting your orienteering skills
  • discrimination of mapping details

Additional Courses

  • Brown Course – shorter course for the advanced orienteer (shorter than green)
  • Red Course – longer course for the advanced orienteer
  • Blue Course – longest course for the advanced orienteer

These courses have the same difficulty as green, and vary only in the length of the course and in the physical challenge. Brown is shorter and less physically demanding, red is longer, and Blue is the longest and toughest advanced course.