By Brett Davis

In rogaining, the terms “control” and “checkpoint” are pretty much interchangeable, with both used to describe those often elusive points on the map that we have to find.

Orienteering began in the late 19th century, and was the first sport to use the term “control point”. In the early days, control points were staffed. Competitors were often given the location of the first control point only, and were then given the next location by the control point staff, who also stamped the control cards.

Rogaining developed from Orienteering, and the term “control point” came with it. Over the years, “control point” has been shortened to “control” but when novices ask “What’s a control?” they are usually told that a control is a checkpoint. Control and checkpoint are now synonymous.

So which one should we actually use?

A quick Google search of the International Rogaining Federation website yields 92 results for control, and 188 for checkpoint, so it would appear that we should perhaps be using “checkpoint” instead of “control”, but a search of the Australian Rogaining Association website gives us 906 results for control, and only 126 for checkpoint, so should we be using “control” exclusively?

The results for the ARA website are repeated for every other Australian state and territory – see the graph below.


And to further emphasize that we should be favouring the term “control”, a Google search of “rogaine control” yields 324 results, with “rogaine checkpoint” only yielding 7 results!

Looking more closely at the NSWRA website, we see that the “What Skills Do I Need” page mentions “control” 9 times, and “checkpoint” is not mentioned at all. Similarly, the “I’ve Entered What’s Next?” page mentions “control” 10 times, and again “checkpoint” is not mentioned.

Of course, Google might not necessarily be the ultimate authority on whether we should use the term “control” or “checkpoint” – so where should we be looking for a definitive answer? The Rules maybe?

A control punchcard – before electrinic scoring

In the International Rogaining Federation rules, “checkpoint” is mentioned 43 times, and the term “control” is used only 3 times! The confusion about using “control” or “checkpoint” is perfectly illustrated in Rule B30 (a) which states “If a checkpoint is misplaced, teams who recorded a visit to the misplaced checkpoint will receive the points for that control and teams who can satisfy the organizers that they visited the correct site will also receive the points for that control.” The two references to control in this rule should both be changed to “checkpoint”, otherwise the rule doesn’t make much sense!

But we live in Australia and go by Australian Rules – so what do they say?!

Well, “checkpoint” is mentioned 51 times, and “control” is mentioned only once!!!

In fact, rule 31(e) provides definitive proof that we should be using “checkpoint” exclusively, as it states that “teams shall be awarded the checkpoint score … if an electronic punch fails but the team has either a punch on a backup control card or a record of the human readable back-up code for that checkpoint”.

Thus “checkpoints” should always be referred to as “checkpoints” and never referred to as “controls”, and “control” should only to be mentioned when referencing a “control card” – which probably should be changed to “checkpoint card” anyhow to bring it into full alignment and agreement with the rest of the rules!

Clearly, it is time for all of us to lose “control”!

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