The AOA is contributing to the development of this strategy, as significant work needs to take place within the Field Army to attract young soldiers and officers into the opportunities orienteering offers.
At its most demanding, orienteering provides the challenge of navigating over complex and rough terrain whilst running at speed; combining navigational skill and aerobic fitness. To be competitive at this level, an orienteer must train regularly, not only to build up physical speed and stamina, but also to improve their ‘mental’ skill.
The skills required of a good soldier are very similar to that of an orienteer: the use of a compass, the ability to estimate distance and interpret the ground, whilst continually making multiple decisions. During an orienteering event a soldier must be confident in their ability, maintain concentration, make decisions under pressure, and sustain a single-minded determination to overcome any setbacks and mistakes. Soldiers taking part in orienteering benefit from:
- An improved cardiovascular fitness and stamina;
- An increased self-confidence and self-awareness;
- An improved ability to make rapid decisions whilst under physical duress;
- Superior map reading skill: learning to ‘read’ the terrain and ‘feel’ their movement through it;
- And a further developed sense of team cohesion.
Lt Col Christopher Huthwaite - AOA Chairman