In this series, I will be publishing some of the techniques adopted by the very best of the worldâ€™s ARDF competitors. Please note that this is not my original works but were extracted ( with permission ) from the RADCOM magazines issued by RSGB. I found that the contents are very informative to our fellow hunters, especially for beginners.
Here, we will be looking at strategies used in the ARDF Classic Championships â€“ that is basically having the standard 5 fox beacons in the field, running on the 1 minute transmit mode and 4 minutes silent mode, sequentially and a Homing beacon which will operate continuously on a different frequency from the foxes. This applies for both the 2 meters and 80 meters hunts.
Example: All 5 fox beacons will transmit on frequency A and the Homing beacon on frequency B.
In the international ARDF Championships, they have a set of rules to abide by, like the exclusion zones of 750 meters at the Start and 400 meters at the Finish line. See the red semi-circle lines.
The Start point is marked as a triangle and the End point marked with a double circle.
Exclusion Zones means:Â There will be no fox beacons in the area.
Source of map: IARU R3Â ARDF Championships, Year 2011 held in Maldon, Victoria, Australia
Definitely, the map issued to the hunters will not show the location of the fox beacons.
Well, in most local and fun hunts, exclusion zones may not exist at all as most of the local hunts are usually done in smaller areas. We just tell the hunters that they are only allowed to switch on their receivers only after passing a marked location, like a lamp post or a tree with a yellow ribbon on it.
In international ARDF competitions, participants have their hunting equipments impounded â€“ that is normally placed on a ground sheet â€“ until it is the hunterâ€™s time to get ready for the hunt. This normally occurs about START-20 minutes. Even local events are following suit, basically, for a group photograph of the collections of hunting gadgets and for the spectators to drool over.
Analysis:Â START-10 To START-5 Minutes
In big competitions, the competitor receives the map at START-10 minutes.
The first action is to secure the map to a light weight board of some kind and to waterproof it as necessary. The remaining time must be used wisely to analyse the situation and the competitor should focus on overall â€˜Startingâ€™ strategy.
First,Â some rough map reading.
CheckÂ that the map scale is as you expected. Then pull out your home made stencil to draw on the 750m start exclusion zone and the 400m finish exclusion zone at map scale.
In IARU R3 ARDF Championships held in Maldon, Australia; the organisers already printed the exclusion zones on the maps thus saving some preparation time for the hunters.
(The IARU rules for ARDF preclude having transmitters placed within these distances from the Start and Finish. In domestic competition, the Start exclusion zone is frequently reduced to 400m, due to the small size of many of our wooded areas.)
Quickly scan the map to assess the big contour features.
See if there is a handy high spot on your likely route away from the Start, from which accurate directional bearings might be obtained. In addition, check for roads and big paths/forest roads.
Next, do some fine map reading.
Look at the Start and Finish exclusion zones and see if there are any paths crossing these from the Start and to the Finish (both of which will be marked on the map by the organiser).
Now use your experience to estimate possible transmitter locations.
This is easiest in a small area when transmitters spaced by minimum 400m allowed by the rules, will only just fit into the area. Consider the possible shape of an optimal sequence of transmitters round the course. For example, if the Finish is away to the left of the Start, then look seriously at taking the transmitters from right to left.
A clever planner may try to trap the competitor by having the nearest transmitter to the Start somewhere in the middle of the arc seen looking from the Start. This possibility needs careful attention to the received signal strengths during the first cycle of transmissions from each hidden transmitter.
Then there is the â€˜near/farâ€™ trick.
Look for a distant high spot with line of sight to the Start.
A 144MHz transmitter here will be seriously loud and tempt you to pass by a transmitter located low down but closer to the Start. It is then necessary to trek back towards the Start to visit the transmitter that was missed.
Also to be considered is a zig-zag course where there can be difficult choices over the order to choose.
More to be published in Part 2 …