Brambles # 1

Brambles is a way of communicating with those Orienteerers out there who wish to have more than enough of our wonderful sport, or maybe you just would like to become better and more consistent in your navigation.

This Brambles is on the technique of using an attack point. References used include Orienteering, Training and Coaching and the Level 1 and 2 Coaching Manual.

Much is often said of using an attack point and sometimes it is often misunderstood. The simplest definition is found in the Level 1 Coaching Manual that states “a distinctive feature close to the control from which the orienteer can navigate carefully to the control”.

Let’s try to clarify some of the issues in the definition. Two of the aspects of the definition I’ve often struggled with are the use of “close to the control” and “a distinctive feature”. One often thinks of an easily recognizable distance of 50 metres to be a reasonable distance for an attack point. This distance may not be reasonable or helpful in certain terrain. If you were in very open terrain the attack point may be up to 100 or 150 metres away while in close terrain it may be only 30 to 40 metres away. Then too, the length of the leg itself can be a determining factor.

What is an attack point going to look like? It can be a distinctive point feature like a boulder, corner of a field, hill, knoll, junction of tracks or streams, a depression or more linear features such as a road, stream, fence, power line, tree line etc. A point feature is easier to place yourself correctly while linear features are great catching features or handrails but exact placement close to the control can be a bit more general in identifying your exact location.

In difficult terrain or terrain without a lot of point features the orienteers may need to extend a feature as the attack point. An example of this is to navigate to a spur or re-entrant and extend this feature toward the control.

If controls are along a slope try to establish the attack point above the control as it is usually easier to see down a slope then up.

Identifying and using an attack point is the last of a series of stages and techniques an orienteers uses in locating the control itself. The attack point is a confirmation that the orienteer is getting close and is indeed about to see the control feature if not the flag itself.


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