Whether you are a seasoned professional or whether you are just starting out in orienteering, finding a local club can be a great way to practice this pastime. Finding a club is also a great way to meet a lot of like-minded people who also enjoy orienteering.
Many clubs also run starter events to give new people the opportunity to try out orienteering in a safe and fun environment. As well as running actual orienteering events, some clubs will also organise other social events so that participants can take the chance to get to know each other off of the course.
Where to start?
If you are looking for a new club, then the best place to start is the website of your national orienteering association. British Orienteering is the national association for orienteering in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The organisation helps to set rules and guidelines for all clubs in the UK, as well as helping to organise many national orienteering events.
British Orienteering is a great place to turn to if you are looking for further information about the sport in the UK, or if you are looking for any other orienteering resources.
Your regional orienteering association may also be able to help you to find the right club in your local area. There is one regional association each for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, whereas England is split into a number of smaller associations. These regional associations act as organisational bodies for all of the local clubs in their areas, and will be able to provide you with contact details for most of the active clubs near to you.
There are over 100 local clubs across the United Kingdom. Most of these clubs run regular events to encourage newcomers to try out orienteering events, as well as running events, leagues and competitions for those who are more competitive. Most club events (professional and newcomer) are run on temporary courses that are designed specifically for that particular session. This means that most club members get to navigate a different course every time that they take part.
Clubs should also be able to give members and non-members information about permanent orienteering courses in the area. These courses have permanent checkpoints and set maps. Some of them are available to visit all year round and participants do not normally need to be part of an event.
Orienteering clubs often promote themselves in gyms or local sports shops, because competitive orienteering requires speed, stamina and agility. Next time you are in a local sports shop, you should take a look at the leaflet rack to see if any local clubs are trying to attract new members.
Many clubs run both daytime and night time events. Night time events start to become more popular in winter when the days become shorter, whereas daytime events usually start being advertised in Spring.
Clubs for the younger generation
Teenagers and students may also find that their school, college or university runs its own orienteering club. Orienteering is a very popular pastime amongst people aged under 25, and many students start their own club if there is not already one on campus. Because these clubs do not tend to be open to general members (those who are not pupils or students), clubs may not be known to the regional orienteering association.
If you want to find out whether your university has an orienteering club, you should talk to the student union at your place of study. Alternatively, if you want more information about setting up an orienteering society on campus, you should ask the British Orienteering association for assistance.