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A good day of orienteering can be loads of fun. It’s challenging, exhilerating, and fulfilling.

And the best part? Anyone can take part in it! It’s a great activity for a range of ages and abilities.

If at any point you wanted an excuse to explore nature to the fullest, then what better way than on the course. It is undoubtedly any adventure enthusiast’s dreams come true in one package.

You can enjoy orienteering leisurely or as a competitive race.

When you are free to choose how far you want to challenge yourself both mentally and physically using the course levels, outstandingly, orienteering has always been fun at any level.

Now back on today’s topic, you have probably heard of either rough or fine orienteering.

All you should know is both are super fun. But when we dive deeper into coarse vs. fine orienteering, you may discover that you have taken part in one or both in one of your adventures, without the confusing terms.

Rough vs. Fine Orienteering: A closer look

Rough orienteering means moving in largely distinct directions towards a collecting feature. It usually involves long course legs.

You need individual skills to be successful in this orienteering. The necessary skills and techniques you require may include:

  • Estimating the distance — It’s quite a unique skill. Not all people can make the right guesses all the time. But being oriented, this is a bonus to those other skills. If you can look at the terrain and judge the distance correctly, then you already got the hang of this.
  • Pacing — You have probably come across pacing before, so you probably know what it means. But if not, it refers to moving at a steady speed or rate. It may come across to you as a fundamental skill, but it is vital. Considering that most, if not all, orienteering challenges are in rugged terrains, you need to save your strength and breathe to reach your destination Remarkably, pacing in orienteering refers to a different thing. Here, the pacing is used to measure the distance you have gone in one direction. You can also use pacing to estimate how tall or thick features you encounter. It will be a bonus to win this sport.
  • Choosing the correct route — It comes as an intermediate skill for orienteers, but it’s equally essential for any course level. The route you pick matters as it will also impact your speed and time you take to get there. If the path has too many obstacles, it will slow you down considerably. Routes with too many shrubs and rocks or just basically a rougher terrain then count your losses on keeping a record time. Pick a route that is less shrubby. It will help if you calculate the distance to collect features and take the one that seems shortest.
  • Understanding and interpreting orienteering symbols — Most guides in orienteering use these symbols. Your ability to quickly understand what it means and interpreting it will come in handy for rough orienteering. You can come up with a technique that makes it easier for you to remember them. Just choose the basic ones and the vital ones.

On the other hand, fine orienteering refers to precision navigation in a comprehensive and meticulous environment.

It involves short course legs.

There are not that many skills, though, that are unique to fine orienteering that you won’t also need for rough orienteering.

The skills that are basic but important include:

  • Accuracy in making bearings — It would help if you made accuracy your biggest strength. If you can make accurate bearings of your whereabouts at all times, then the rest comes easy. Like mentioned earlier, some considerable skills and techniques are equally crucial when looking at rough vs. fine orienteering. These skills are what you need in an orienteering competition. They include:
  • How do you use a map? — Maps are not always the easiest to read and understand. You need to have at least basic knowledge of how to use it. Before any orienteering challenge, give yourself adequate time to go over the map at least once and interpret some courses. This technique can ensure that you don’t miss any stop. It’s also an excellent way to ensure that you don’t struggle to use the map. It would help if you also got the hang of folding a map without tearing it up in the process. The way you fold a map also affects the speed you can refer to later. If your plan is folded up all wrong, it’s going to be near impossible to read it while running or walking. And the most vital thing about maps that under no circumstance should you ignore is reading and interpreting the features. This skill should not be overlooked as crucial.
  • How to use a compass — As much as the map is essential, then so is the compass. Luckily, if you do not know how to use it, learning the skill isn’t hard. It can take you up to an hour to study it, and soon you will be bearings like a pro. Take your time to learn the working of the compass and ensure that you truly grasp it. It’s vital because you may not have a compass on your next orienteering adventure. But if you understood how it works, you can improvise or use the ground to navigate through the course.
  • Angling the map northwards — Your ability to position the map north and get your bearings is crucial in both rough and fine orienteering. You should be able to know how to do this using the ground without a compass. But if you have a compass, using it should be a must-have skill.

Considering that orienteering mostly takes place in uneven or rugged terrains, you need to be physically fit.

Physical fitness does not differ in either rough or fine orienting.

Even if it’s just a trek through the woods, your body should still be agile enough to endure it.

Besides, these activities can last anywhere between half an hour to 3 hours.

Only a healthy body can go through this and come out strong.

In both rough and fine orienteering, you need special orienteering equipment for both comfort and navigation.

This equipment can range from your dressing to what you are carrying. It would help if you considered going lighter, as taking heavy stuff will tire you to finish the race.

When dressing, you should consider wearing a long sleeves shirt and trousers.

The long sleeves protect you from thorns in the shrubs and, of course, unwarranted insect bites.

A racing suit is not such a bad idea for you. It’s light and stretchy, and you can move freely in it.

When you get wet, it dries fast.

Put on running shoes with non-slip soles.

Falling and twisting your ankle is something no one wants. A hat can also be helpful.

Carry a map and compass for quick navigation through the terrain and a control card to check out all the features you encounter and prove that you made a stop at all control points.

You can also have a towel, drink bottle, sunscreen, and snacks.

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