New ARDF Events: Sprints and Foxoring

For three decades, international-rules radio-orienteering competitions have had two major competition days.  Each participant must compete on the two-meter band and the 80-meter band.  On each band, he or she must seek from two to five transmitters in a forested course of four to ten kilometers, depending on his or her age/gender category.  This Homing In site has a summary of the current 2m/80m ARDF competition rules here.

Beginning with the 2012 ARDF World Championships in Serbia, two new events were added.  These events were also added to the 2012 USA ARDF Championships.  The sprint competition is a shortened form of the five-fox 80-meter ARDF run that's intended to be a demonstration for the public.  Foxoring is a combination of classic orienteering and direction-finding in which the competitors use orienteering skills to navigate to specific locations on the competition map where they will be able to receive and find a fox transmitter signal on 80 meters.

At the 2012 USA Championships in California, the sprints and foxoring competitions were for demonstration and training only.  Team USA selection for the regular ARDF WC events are not affected by the results of the sprint and foxoring sessions at the USA Championships.  However, the new international rules permit nations to have additional team members just for the sprint and foxoring, so it is possible for USA to add members to its team to compete in the WC sprint and foxoring events only.

Below are descriptions and abbreviated rules for the new events as they are to be done at the World Championships.


Portion of foxoring mapSprints are intended to bring ARDF nearer to the public and to attract potential sponsors and new athletes to ARDF.  They should take place in forests or city parks that are easily accessible by the public on either Day 1 or the free day between the main competitions.  Only 80 meters is used for sprints.  The competition course has two loops with a spectator run through the finish area between them.

The first sprint loop has five slow-keyed transmitters on one frequency.  The second loop has five fast-keyed transmitters on another frequency.  There is a spectator beacon on a third frequency and a finish beacon on a fourth frequency.  The four frequencies are at least 30 KHz apart.

Each sprint competitor runs through the start corridor, which leads to the area with slow keyed transmitters 1 through 5. After finding all the required transmitters from this loop in any order, he/she runs to the spectator control and then through the spectator corridor to the area with fast keyed transmitters 1F through 5F. After finding all the required transmitters from this second loop in any order, the competitor runs to the finish beacon and through the finishing corridor to the finish line.

A portion of the sprint map from the 2011 Region 1 ARDF Championships in Romania is shown at right with the fox locations added in. The start triangle is at center-right. Competitors found their required of the first five foxes, then navigated to the spector control, marked as a start-finish circle-triangle at center-left. From there they went through a spectator corridor out to find their required of the second five foxes, then on to the finish, marked as concentric circles at upper-left.

Here are additional differences between the sprint and the main 80m event:


Portion of foxoring mapFoxoring seems like an ideal way to get classic orienteers interested in ARDF.  It encourages ARDF enthusiasts to improve their orienteering skills.  Only 80 meters is used for foxoring.

At the start, foxoring competitors get a map marked with nominal positions of at least ten transmitters, plus the start and finish beacon locations.  The fox transmitters are close to their nominal positions as marked on the maps.  Part of the foxoring map from the 2011 Netherlands ARDF Championships is shown at right.

All foxoring transmitters operate continuously.  They are very weak and therefore are audible only in the near vicinity of the antenna.  Competitors navigate close to transmitters by means of the map and then complete the final approach by RDF.  The finish beacon operates at normal power (1W to 5W).

As in regular ARDF, the designated transmitter numbers to be found by competitors in each category are announced in advance.

Category    Number of Foxes   Course Length
             (as announced)
   W19         5 to 8           4 to 6 Km
   W21         6 to 10          5 to 7 Km
   W35         5 to 8           4 to 6 Km
   W50         4 to 7           3 to 5 Km
   W60         4 to 7           3 to 5 Km
   M19         6 to 8           6 to 8 Km
   M21         8 to 10          7 to 9 Km
   M40         6 to 8           6 to 8 Km
   M50         5 to 8           5 to 7 Km
   M60         5 to 8           4 to 6 Km
   M70         4 to 7           3 to 5 Km

Additional rules for foxoring:

Go to International-Style Foxhunting Comes To The Americas -- An introduction to the sport with the history of its development in the Western Hemisphere

THRDFS cover Go to Latest Championship Foxhunting News -- Stories of recent multi-nation ARDF events and announcements of upcoming ones

Go to Radio-Orienteering in southern California -- Announcements of upcoming demonstration/practice sessions and results of recent local events

Go to Equipment Ideas for Radio-Orienteering -- Simple and inexpensive receiving and transmitting solutions

Go to A Video that Explains and Promotes ARDF -- Show it to your local ham radio and orienteering clubs

Go to Electronic Scoring for ARDF -- What it is, how it works, and why it's better than pin punching

Go to Try ARDF on 80 Meters -- The "other" foxhunting band

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This page updated 1 May 2013