What Is an A-meet?
The designation “A-meet” is given to the highest-quality orienteering events. In order to receive such a designation, the event must be sanctioned by Orienteering USA (OUSA). There is a variety of criteria that must be met in order for OUSA to give its approval, both in terms of the courses offered and in terms of the organization of the event.
Across the country, there are perhaps twenty A-meets a year. Many people travel great distances to attend an A-meet. Indeed, out-of-town entrants for BAOC A-meets generally make up about one-third of the total number of entrants. You might think of A–meets as “national” meets. OUSA maintains a ranking system whereby competitors can compare themselves to other competitors across the country. Only events that are part of an A-meet count towards the rankings.
Usually A-meets cover two or more days. One standard format is to have two days of competition, with the final standings based on each competitor’s total time for the two days. Another standard format is to have a three-day event with a Sprint Course on the first day, a Middle-distance course on the second day, and a Long course on the third day. (See What are Sprint, Middle and Long Courses?) Other formats are possible.
Generally speaking, when a club maps a new area of good quality, it will then hold an A-meet on that terrain. Partly to offset the cost of making new maps (and as an acknowledgement of the higher event quality), entrance fees for A-meets are higher than those for local meets (though still lower than a typical running race).
Pre-registration is required for A-meets. Start times for each event are assigned in advance, and the start procedure is more formal than at a local event, to make the event run smoothly.
Don’t be intimidated by the extra formality of an A-meet, nor by the fact that many out-of-town people attend. A-meets still accommodate orienteers of all abilities and inclinations. Everyone can benefit from the extra-high quality — for instance, many BAOC members (ages 7 to 70!) attend the annual U.S. Championships (the pinnacle of all A-meets) wherever they are held. Even if you don’t wish to travel around the country to attend A-meets, you should make every effort possible to attend the A-meets that BAOC hosts. These are opportunities not to be missed!
As one of the larger clubs in the United States, BAOC usually puts on one or two A-meets per year. (Sometimes a BAOC A-meet will be a U.S. Championship event.) In addition, BAOC puts on many “local meets” for which the courses often meet the standards of A-meet quality — such events are called "B-meets". Other events, with non-standard formats or with a more casual approach to the event, are called "C-meets".