Map Symbols and Descriptions

Knowing all the international orienteering symbols for map reading is vital for good orienteering.

There aren’t a huge number of symbols but knowing their correct meaning and being fluent reading them makes a huge difference to one’s ability to find one’s way through a course.

You can find sheets for learning map symbols below, courtesy of Orienteering Australia.

The first print-out guide is for general map symbols, which enable you to see the lay and details of the land and plot your routes between controls.

The second print-out guide is for the extra description symbols on the small control description sheet that you get at each race start to accompany the map. The control descriptions make it much easier to close that last distance to the control accurately.

Can’t imagine not seeing a control close by? In dense forest, controls are easy to miss on anything other than an Easy course. The author once spent 5 minutes within 10m of a control in a Swedish forest before seeing it. : – < Crazy-making.

Print these out and study them prior to doing a permanent course or a race to make orienteering much easier!