Last weekend, a few of us drove down to Boggs Mountain, California to try on some different terrain. It would be my second 'A meet', which is a nationally sanctioned meet in which an orienteer can earn national ranking points and a generally more challenging meet overall. I would be racing the 'Red' course, the 'elite' course for women.
|A portion of the Red middle distance map, showing the continuously off-trail route from 8 to 15.|
I'm a pretty good map reader, comfortable with contours, and my tactics reflect that. Instead of taking a bearing or counting my paces, I will do everything but that. I'll scrutinize the topography, assess the vegetation, and scope out linear and point features until I can close in on my target. This is a sufficient strategy for most terrain. I'll get up on a soap box and tell any beginner that the thing to learn is how to associate a map to terrain, not how to play with a gadget.
|This particular control gave me a real challenge!|
This is how you get better. Don't crutch on the skills that you're good at, focus on the ones that you haven't mastered. I advocate racing just a little bit above your head. It'll stretch you. Just be sure to bring a snack.