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This is a partial list of Orienteering terms. For a full list of useful terms, please visit Orienteering USA’s Orienteering Lingo page.

Aiming Off – to deliberately aim to one side of a control or feature so that you know which way to turn upon hitting the feature before seeing the control.

Attack Point – an obvious feature near the control point from which the control can be located by navigating carefully with map and compass.

Bearing – the direction of travel as indicated by the compass.

Catching Feature (also called a Collecting Feature or Backstop) – an obvious feature on the map and ground located beyond a control or other sought after feature which indicates that the target feature has been over-shot.

Check Point – an obvious feature on the map or ground which can be used to check that you are keeping to your chosen route.

Contour – a line on a topographic map that connects points of equal elevation.

Control/ Control Marker/ Marker– a trapezoid-shaped marker (usually orange or red and white) used to mark features on an orienteering course, usually with clipper or control punch attached to mark a control card as proof of arrival.

Control Card – a card carried by each participant, which is punched at each control feature to verify the visit.

Control Circle – a circle drawn around a feature on the map to indicate the location of a control marker. The feature should be in the exact center of the circle.

Control Code – letters (or numbers) on a control marker which enable participants to verify that it is the correct one.

Control Description – a list given to each participant which briefly describes each control feature in order. It also gives the control code.

Control Feature – a natural or man-made feature on or next to which the control is hung.

Control Marker – see control.

Control Number – a number drawn beside each control circle on a map. On a cross-country course, they indicate the order in which the controls must be visited. The top of the number should point to North.

Control Punch – a small plastic clipper with different designs of pins. Used to verify each control feature has been visited.

Course – a sequence of control points marked on the map which are to be visited by the orienteer.

Cross Country Course – the classic course used for all major competitions. Control features must be visited in the prescribed order.

Dog-Leg – positioning of a control which favors approaching and leaving a control by the same route, thereby leading other competitors to the control. Course design which results in a dog-leg should be avoided.

Fine Orienteering – precision navigation in detailed terrain usually demanding careful use of map, compass and pace counting, and usually involving short course legs.

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