Orienteering is a group of sports that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain whilst moving at speed. Participants are given a topographical map, usually a specially prepared orienteering map, which they use to find control points.
Originally a training exercise in land navigation for military officers, orienteering has developed many variations. Among these, the oldest and the most popular is foot orienteering. For the purposes of this article, foot orienteering serves as a point of departure for discussion of all other variations, but almost any sport that involves racing against a clock and requires navigation with a map is a type of orienteering.
Orienteering sports combine significant navigation with a specific method of travel. Because the method of travel determines the needed equipment and tactics, each sport requires specific rules for competition and guidelines for orienteering event logistics and course design.
International Orienteering Federation, the governing body of the sport, currently sanctions the following four disciplines as official disciplines in the sport of orienteering:
- Foot orienteering (FootO)
- Mountain bike orienteering (MTBO)
- Ski orienteering (SkiO)
- Trail orienteering (TrailO)
Moreover, International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) sanctions the following orienteering sport:
Amateur radio direction finding (Radio orienteering or ARDF) [including variants Fox Oring and Radio Orienteering in a Compact Area (ROCA)]
Other orienteering disciplines include, but are not limited to:
- Canoe orienteering
- Car orienteering
- Mountain marathoning
- Mounted orienteering
- SportLabyrinth – micro orienteering
Adventure racing is a combination of two or more disciplines, and usually includes orienteering as part of the race.