Once upon a time, all you had was a map with minimally-described control features circled (and that description might have been something as vague as “The hillside”). If you were stupid enough to punch the incorrect control, well that was your due to your lousy navigation.

Thankfully, orienteering has advanced, and we now have control descriptions that provide precise descriptions of the feature we are looking for, but when you plan a course, how aware are you of the rules governing the content of control descriptions?

Applicable rules:

Orienteering Australia (OA)

OA Rule 2.9

Orienteering Australia may decide special rules or norms which must be followed, e.g. Orienteering Australia Anti-Doping Rules, International Specification for Orienteering Maps, International Specifications for Sprint Orienteering Maps, Principles for Course Planning, IOF Control Descriptions: Australian Edition, IOF Standard Symbols for Orienteering Maps: Australian Edition.

Note – the above link is only a summary page of the complete IOF document linked below.

OA Section 18 of the rules has more precise requirements:

 18.1 The precise location of the controls shall be defined by control descriptions. 
 18.2 The control descriptions shall be in the form of symbols and in accordance with the IOF Control Descriptions 2018. 
 18.3 The control descriptions, given in the right order for each competitor’s course, shall be fixed to or printed on the front side of the competition map. 
 18.4 For interval start competitions, separate control description lists for each course shall be available at the pre-start for each competitor on the course. 
 18.5 M/W10, M/W12, M/W14 and all B classes shall be provided with control descriptions in English in addition to IOF symbols. 

International Orienteering Federation (IOF)

IOF Rule 2.10

The IOF Council may decide special rules or norms which must be followed, e.g. IOF Anti-Doping Rules, IOF Protocol Guide, International Specification for Orienteering Maps, International Specification for Sprint Orienteering Maps, Principles for Course Planning (Appendix 2), Leibnitz Convention and IOF Control Descriptions.

OA rule 18 is similar to the IOF rule, however there is a subtle difference between OA 18.4 and IOF 18.4, so controllers should be aware of this difference where IOF rules apply.

IOF Section 18

 18.1 The precise location of the controls is defined by control descriptions. 
 18.2 The control descriptions must be in the form of symbols and in accordance with the IOF Control Descriptions
 18.3 The control descriptions, given in the right order for each competitor’s course, must be fixed to or printed on the front side of the competition map. 
 18.4 For interval start competitions, separate control description lists for each competitor on each course must be available at the pre-start or in the start lanes, but must not be available before that point. 

So, control descriptions are governed by the competition rules, thus it is the responsibility of competitors to be familiar with control descriptions, and the responsibility of organisers (and controllers) to make sure that control descriptions are accurate.

The latest version of the IOF Control Descriptions document was released in 2018, so if your control description software pre-dates this release, you should update it!