There are different systems for controlling passage at controls and to take the times in orienteering events, from a simple punch card to different electronic control devices.

This article presents the system that uses a control card and punchers. To find out more about electronic control systems, see our SPORTident and EMIT pages.

If the traditional control card system is used, the athlete carries a card with him, and there is punchers at all controls, each with different perforation patterns.

Control card

Control cards can have various formats, but they all include numbered squares to be punched at the respective control points, as well as spaces for the athlete’s name, age group, start time, finish time and time elapsed in the race.


Before the start, the organization fills in the start time. During the course, the athlete must then punch the card with the puncher in the square corresponding to each control on their course. In case of any mistake (picking in the wrong square) the athlete can use the reserve squares (R1 to R3).

Upon finish, the organization fills in the finish time, calculates the elapsed time (finish time minus start time) and manually checks whether the perforations are correct for all controls.

Punched control card

Card verification can be more or less demanding, depending on the level of the event. For example, the organization may consider a point to be incorrect just because a hole is outside the respective square.

In events with electronic time control, punchers can also be used at the controls as a backup in case the electronic station fails. The maps normally have 3 reserve squares for the athlete to use in these situations.