Although orienteering participants tend to run alone, orienteering can actually be a very active sport. Regardless of your orienteering abilities, you should consider joining an orienteering club or society if you want to further your passion for the sport. There are over 120 certified orienteering clubs across the UK, so you should easily be able to find one close to your home. There are a lot of different benefits associated with becoming a member of an orienteering society, so it is well worth joining one if you have the opportunity.
Benefits to joining a club
One of the primary reasons for joining your local club is that it will allow you to become part of an active community of likeminded people. As well as taking part in orienteering events, most clubs also run social events and informal gatherings so that members can get to know each other away from the course. Building social capital in this way can be as beneficial for your mental health as taking part in orienteering is for your physical health levels.
Being part of a club also makes it much easier for you to keep up-to-date with orienteering news. There are lots of exciting developments in the world of orienteering, so it is good to keep up with new developments. Keeping abreast of news from the sport can help to give you opportunities that you might otherwise have missed. Most clubs run a newsletter which includes club information and information about other things that may be relevant to participants.
Membership of the British Orienteering body will also get you a subscription to Focus magazine, which is published 3 times a year and is full of all of the latest orienteering news.
Many clubs have also negotiated discounts with kit suppliers and local course operators. Not only will you be able to find out about the latest kit as soon as it comes out, but you may also be able to get money off when you need to purchase new pieces.
Most clubs also run prize events and competitions for club members. Although some events are open to members of the public, other events are exclusive to those who are part of a club. This will give you the opportunity to test out your skills against others who have a similar passion. Most clubs run a ranking system for each age group, so that people can see how they compare to people in a similar position to themselves. Even if you are not competitive, it can still be fun to see how you stack up against your fellow club members.
Being included in rankings is always optional, so you do not have to be involved in this aspect if you do not want to be. Some of the events on offer may also be prize events where only club members are eligible to win. Although prizes are usually only small at club level, the chance of winning one can add another fun dimension to the discipline.
If you are a very competitive individual it is also important that you become a member of your local, regional and national club so that you can represent your area. Non-club members are not usually eligible to represent their country in international competitions.
Getting British Orienteering membership also ensure that you are covered by public liability insurance when you attend events or activities which are being run by the body or its affiliates. Accidents are uncommon at orienteering events, but they can happen in any sport. Membership will help you if you are involved in any sort of accident whilst you are taking part.
How to find your local club
There are over 100 orienteering clubs in operation across the country, so you will definitely be able to find one that operates close to your home. Younger people may also find that their university or school runs an orienteering club that it not open to members of the general public.
Local clubs may advertise in sports shops and gyms. The sport is ideal for those who like running or the outdoors, and therefore local clubs aim to attract these types of people. If you are part of a running group, you can even ask your fellow competitors whether they take part in the sport. The popularity of orienteering amongst runners and joggers means that the chances are that one of your fellow group members will be involve in the sport.
If you cannot see any leaflets in your area, then you should get in contact with British Orienteering. They will be able to give you advice about clubs that operate in your area. Alternatively, they will give you the contact details of the regional orienteering body for your area, which will be able to tell you about any newcomer events that are coming up close to your location.