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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: When there is no attack point **near the control**

in: Orienteering; General

Jan 24, 2023 8:13 PM # 
One type of control I look at with DREAD is when there is no clear attack point close to the control. It was totally compass work over a long distance with no clear catching points close to the control to be practical. I was on one course years ago and it was Score-O with most of the attack points in white or impassable forest with few trails or other landmarks. Further, it was in Florida where the terrain is pretty flat so you don't have hills and gullies to guide you.

How do you find controls in that kind of environment?
Jan 24, 2023 8:57 PM # 
Florida? I'm guessing you are talking about Ocala National Forest or Withlacoochee State Forest or Wekiva State Park. Miles of pine plantation in relatively flat and sandy terrain.
But everywhere you can get situations where there are no close and distinct attack points. One of your old Florida friends and I were talking about that last Saturday and how so many do so poorly in that type of terrain.
To me the hills and sinkholes are not large but they are represented in the contours. At a recent event at Wekiva to find a single palm tree I went along a flat ridge to get to the palm tree shown on the map just down from the tip of the ridge.
The ridge was only one contour line high but it was there.
Sometimes you have to rely on good compass reading combined with careful pace counting. If the map says you have to go 400 meters then slow down, stop and look around as you approach that distance. To your left or right are there any signs of anything that could be your feature? DON'T go on another 200-400 meters.
They don't teach this in any textbooks but look at what other orienteers are doing. Do you see any that look as if they are leaving a control? Do you see anyone suddenly darting toward a feature? It may not be your control but then again...
Jan 24, 2023 9:05 PM # 
It was actually at one of your events, Gord - Croom or something like that? It was my first ever orienteering course. I can't quite remember the name of the place, but it was Score-O and it was where I first met you. You told me there was one guy from Norway who did the whole thing in record time. The first few controls were easy to find due to intersecting roads and trails and a dirt field. But after that it was a nightmare for me as it was all compass work and when necessary, I also have a tendency to lose count of my stride for some reason. Probably due to the ongoing need to keep my mind occupied.

There have been individual controls like that in some of the other events I've attended and I usually have a hard time finding them. Another problem is when you have a road or trail that is relatively straight and there is a control behind a bush off the trail. The only way you can guess where to get off the trail is to count paces from a known point prior in the trail, which I find unreliable in my case. I did learn to really overshoot where I THINK the control is, get off the trail, and then backtrack, off the trail, until I run into the control, but it doesn't always work if my pace counting is off -- and I haven't actually overshot the position of the control.
Jan 24, 2023 11:09 PM # 
Boy, I was afraid this thread had to do with Attackpoint disappearing. I hope it never happens.
Jan 25, 2023 12:25 AM # 
Lower case Dave, lower case 'a'. But good one and I agree.
Jan 27, 2023 1:14 AM # 
You have to move straight in the direction of the control, checking with your compass frequently, ---->> keep going no matter what, do not give up too soon, do not panic, believe in yourself, generate and circulate inside your mind a positive image of that hidden in a remote pit control appearing right in front of you out of nowhere.

This will work about 50% of the time. If it does not --then you are screwed. Hope you have a good whistle, you took a note with instruction how to bail out, and you have not attracted a hungry grizzly yet.
Jan 27, 2023 1:56 AM # 
One bit of advice that I learned from the very wise PG is that this is a situation where you need to use a very specific set of muscles: your neck muscles. Keep going in the right direction, but don't get tunnel vision and stare straight ahead, keep looking around. You may spot the control, you may spot something that you hadn't noticed on the map, or you may spot something that you shouldn't be seeing on your intended line, which is an indication that you've drifted and need to correct.
Jan 27, 2023 2:52 AM # 
Pace counting can be very useful, if you understand how to use it. Pace counting can tell you one of two things: 1) I haven't gone far enough yet, keep going; or 2) I have gone too far, go back. Disappointing? No, very useful.

You do have to be able to adjust your pace counting on the fly. I usually like to think in terms of how many paces (left foot falls) I need to do to cover 100 meters. Say it's 60 paces in the current terrain. I measure on the map how far I have to go using the scale I have on the edge of my compass. Say it's 2 cm on the map at 1:10000, e.g. 200 meters to the control, so I need to go 120 paces. I begin counting left foot falls as I proceed. If I have only gone 100 paces, keep going; if I have gone 140 and no control, go back.

The tricky thing is how many paces it takes you to cover 100 m in the given terrain. You can start by going to a high school track and running/walking 100 m at your typical orienteering pace. Or run on a road between junctions on an orienteering map. Then you have to adjust in the terrain depending if your are going up or down, and how thick or slow the undergrowth is, and if you go sideways a little around an obstacle.

If I typically go 60 paces/100 m in flat open terrain, then I better adjust to 70 or 80 in thicker terrain or uphill, or 50 downhill or on a road or fast trail. I can also refine my current count if I pass a mapped object en route. For example, I leave the trail on a compass bearing for the control 300 m/180 paces away at the default of 60 paces per 100 m. I cross a stream half way there at a count of 105 paces/150 m, a little slower than the expected default for half way of 90 paces/150 m. So I need to adjust and keep going about another 105 paces, not 90, at my current stride.

Now I can use that information on the next compass leg where there is no helpful intermediate object, i.e., that my default pace count in the current terrain is about 70, not 60. (70 paces/100 m, 105 paces/150 m, 210 paces/300 m. etc.)

It takes a bit of practice to understand and use pace counting successfully, but it can be very useful.
Jan 27, 2023 10:28 AM # 
@yurets: in Australia we would call such a location a bingo control, because you yell "Bingo!" if/when you finally find it...

TBH, I'm surprised that tRicky hasn't made this comment already :)
Jan 27, 2023 11:32 AM # 
Same term in the USA. I remember being surprised in 1990 when hearing the comments from the competitors at a World Cup race and learning that the Swedish term for such a control is.... "bingo"..
Jan 27, 2023 1:13 PM # 
to get around pacing being different in different terrain I have always paced to and from something eg pace to a ditch a third of the way to the control then time those paces by two after the ditch (does that make sense?) also stops having to ever measure things with my compass which isn't compatible with elite orienteering in my eyes. Yvette Hague used to talk about 'virtual aiming off' where you don't actually aim off (as there's not much use if there's no catching feature) but you do know which side of you the control is going to be on when you get there or thereabouts.
Jan 27, 2023 3:43 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
Bingo controls are never any fun, the canonical version is a narrow & deep depression in sandy fir forest with some undergrowth: Impossible to see from less than 10-15m away unless another competitor suddenly drops down. The latter event is visible from far away! When such controls are misplaced on the map, either absolutely or relative to an obvious attack point, then your entire race can be destroyed by how lucky/unlucky you are.
Jan 27, 2023 3:55 PM # 
as an illustration you can check this out

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