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By Lord Baden-Powell

These are the army reconnaissance games from B-P's military manual Aids to Scouting.  The book became wildly popular with boys during the 1899-1900 Siege of Mafeking, eight years before he adapted it for them in his book Scouting for Boys.



A tract of country, say about four miles square, is selected, and its boundaries given out, and an hour at which operations are to cease.

A patrol of six men form the "spider " party. This party moves through the country and selects a place where it conceals itself to watch for enemy's patrols.

A party of six men, dressed differently to above, form the "fly." They go out half-an-hour later in two parties of three men each or three parties of two, to endeavor to `find and report the position of the "spider."

An umpire goes with each party.

If within the given time the "fly" has not discovered the "spider," the "spider" wins. The "spider" writes reports of any patrols of enemy seen, and for these marks are awarded. Any patrol coming within 50 yards of the "spider " without seeing them, is counted as captured.

Reports by patrols of "fly," giving the whereabouts, etc., of the "spider," receive marks.

An umpire goes with the "spider" and one with each patrol of "flies."


General Idea.

Competitors will be divided into two forces, each about 15 strong.

Each force will form a line of outposts, consisting of two Cossack posts, and scouts for reconnoitering patrols within a given tract of country.

Three-quarters of a mile in rear of the centre of each line of outposts four flags will be planted, in line 30 yards apart, by an umpire, and not hidden.

It will be the object of the scouts of each force to find out where the outposts of the opposing force are posted, and then to work round in rear of them, and steal the flags and bring them back to their own line. Their object will also be to prevent the enemy doing the same. One man may not carry away more than one flag at a time.

Rule I.-The scouts can go out singly or in pairs, or all together, as the leader may think fit. Any scout or party coming within 80 yards of a stronger party, or of a Cossack post, of the enemy will be put out of action if seen by the enemy, as captured or shot. If carrying captured flags at the time these will not count as having been captured. If such scout or party can hide or get by without being seen within 80 yards of the enemy, it may do so.

Rule II.-A Cossack post may not move from its ground, and its strength (owing to its being in position) will count as six men. But it may send messengers to the other Cossack post or to the reconnoitring patrols of its side.

Rule III.-An umpire will be with each Cossack post and with each patrol of over two men. At the hour named for conclusion of the competition each commander will hand in to an umpire all sketches and reports made, and also a nominal list of the men he sent out on patrol, and those employed on outpost.

The side which makes the biggest aggregate of marks wins.

Marks may be deducted by the umpires for over-riding horses, not complying to rules, etc.

No galloping allowed.


For each flag or lamp captured and brought in ... 5 marks.

For each sketch and report of position of enemy's outposts, up to ... 5 marks. 

For each report of movements of enemy's patrols, up to ... ... 2 marks.

The same competition can be carried out at night, Chinese lanterns being substituted for flags.


OBJECTS.-(A) To teach men to find their way by map.

OBJECTS.-(A) To teach men to sketch and report rapidly.

To teach men to keep themselves and their tracks as much concealed as possible.

To teach men to keep a good look out.

(B) To teach men to track rapidly.

To teach men to keep a bright look-out to a distance as well as observing close signs.

To teach men to keep themselves concealed while at work.

To teach men to get information from natives.


Sketchers: (A) Patrol of three men, "Sketchers" (in khaki), is sent out to sketch and report on certain points in a given tract of country, finding their way by the map, for a distance of five miles. [The Trackers do not know which men are sent out as Sketchers.] They are warned that an enemy's patrol will be looking for them. They are given about 15 minutes' start.

Trackers: (B) A patrol of four men (in white), "Trackers," is started from the same point, 15 minutes later (two to three minutes for each mile is a fair start), and told to search for enemy and report his moves.

Umpires: An umpire accompanies this patrol, to start them, to see that they play fair, and to receive their reports (written on the spot). He also knows the ultimate rendezvous in case they should fail in following up the enemy.

Umpires to be dressed in mufti, to be non-conspicuous and unmistakable.

Another umpire is posted at the end of the course to time arrival of all parties, and to receive at once on arrival the sketches and reports of the "Sketchers."

Umpires then examine all reports and sketches and award marks


1. Galloping.-Any man galloping his horse will be disqualified.

[N.B.-Trackers can claim this penalty if they can show to their umpire's satisfaction the spoor of the sketcher galloping.]

2. Prisoners.-Should the trackers overtake or cut off any sketcher in such a way as would, in the umpire's opinion, render him their prisoner in war, the marks awarded to that sketcher's work will not count for his side.

3. Marks.--To obtain full marks a sketch or report must be neatly done, with all particulars as laid down in instructions, and complete with name and place of sender, date, hour, point, scale, etc.

Full marks for each sketch and report ... 10

Full marks for tracker's or sketcher's report of distant enemy ... 2

Full marks for trackers of near enemy, giving name ... 7

Full marks for trackers reporting course taken by enemy, three per mile if tracked, or one mark if followed by information gained from natives.

One mark will be deducted from the score of the sketchers for each time they neglect to report enemy's patrol when trackers' reports show that they could see sketchers, and two marks will be added every time they report the enemy without being seen themselves.

4. Named Enemy.-The same man of the enemy not to be reported by name twice in the competition.

5. Reporting.-Only one report is to be sent in by the tracking patrol each fresh occasion that enemy is seen. The man who is first to see the enemy makes out the report and hands it to the umpire.

6. Roads.-Sketchers are not to ride along roads-they must keep in the. fields to one side if the course of a road is followed.


The following have figured successfully as events for scouts at Regimental sports :-

1. Quick Sight.-Put out three or four individuals or pairs, or groups of men, each group differently clothed (e.g., one in khaki, another cloaked, another in serge or shirtsleeves, one mounted, and so on) at distances between 500 and 1,500 yards, in different directions from the starting point. These groups are not actually to hide, but should choose their background so that they are not conspicuous.

Flag out a small course, over jumps, with three halting points. Competitors (in heats of four) ride to No. 1 point, where an umpire tells them the general compass direction of the group they are to look for. A competitor on seeing the group writes a report describing-

1. How many in the group.

2. How clothed.

3. Position as regards any landmark near them.

4. Distance from his own position.

He then rides on to the next point and repeats the same.

Each report to be correctly headed with date, place, name of sender, and of receiver, etc. On completing the last report the scout rides to the winning post and hands in his reports.

Marks :-Five for each correct and complete report. Deduct one for every ten seconds later than the first man arriving at winning post.

2. Swimming Race.-Barebacked, men in pants and shirt. Start quarter or half mile from river, canal, or tank. Ride to the bank, swim either on or alongside of horse; mount on far bank and gallop to winning post about a furlong from the river.

3. Lying Down Race.-Competitors ride from starting point to a flag. Then make horse lie down, then mount, rise, and gallop to another flag, and again lie down, and then gallop to winning post.


(Carried out by 18th Hussars).-Each competitor to carry dispatch for a distance of about eight miles.

Walking 2 miles.

Swimming 50 yards (or more). 

Running 1 mile.

Cycling 1.5 miles.

Rowing 2 miles.

Riding 1.5 miles.


A letter for each squadron is hidden at a certain spot, about 50 miles from barracks. A list of hints and clues as to landmarks, compass bearings, etc., is given, by which competitors may find the way.

Four scouts from each squadron, mounted on bicycles, can start. The squadron which first sends its letter into barracks wins.


A trail being previously laid of small signs, such as tracks, paper, buttons, pipes, scratches on the ground, blazes on trees, broken twigs, rags, etc.

To test good riding and quick eye, each man taking it in turn to lead along the trail.



To attain efficiency in horse-mastership, scouting, and dispatch-riding, under pressure akin to that of active service.


From a squadron :



2 Officers 2
3 Scouts 3
1 Cyclist 0
1 Pack horse holder 2
7 7



If from a troop only ; the Troop Commander and the non-commissioned officer take the place of the two officers given above.

To carry out a three days' patrol of, roughly, 25 to 35 miles a day-starting at a certain hour and ending at a given place. Finding way by map.


The Commander of the patrol to report on certain points, and to send in his reports by dispatch-rider.

The points for his reports will be given to him by the umpire at starting each day, and will, as a rule, be connected with his halting station ; or if connected with the march, will be of such nature as not to involve delays in marching.


Shelter tents, blankets, and cooking utensils to be carried on pack-horse. Bivouac each night. Food and forage to be previously laid down at stations-the patrol being supposed to live on the country. Forage and food may be carried on the if desired.


Field service marching order with 100 rounds of ammunition.


Triangular or more sided course, according to number of teams competing.

Say three teams start-the course will be a triangle of three sides about 25 or 30 miles each between stations A B C, and a run into centre spot D of about 15 miles, thus :-

a2s180-40.jpg (50111 bytes)

and go to next station; and thence, the following day to the next, and on the third day they go to the third station, i.e., their original starting point, and thence to D, thus putting in about 40 to 50 miles on the last day.

On the fourth day each team has to go over a jump course of six fences at D. This is to ensure useful class of horse being employed, and no over-riding on previous day.

Dispatch Riding.

The officers have certain objects to report on each day-they send in their reports on the following day by one of their scouts to D. 'Ian remains at D after handing in his report. .10n the third day they send it forward to D ilsy cyclist, from the last station they reach.


Condition of horses to be tested by veterinary officer on arriving at D, and record taken their temperature, pulse, respiration, soundness, injuries, and general working efficiency, etc.

Umpires at stations also to note the general condition of the horses on arrival and on departure, with power to deduct marks or disqualify for bad condition.


Total Total
Each report  50 150
Time.-Average pace up to 6 miles per hour. Anything over does not count. Anything under loses 5 marks per decimal point below the rate of 6 miles per hour  100  100

Condition of each horse on arrival at D

30  210

Jumping each horse (except pack-horse)

 15 93
Cyclist, 1 mark for every three minutes in advance of his patrol on arrival at D

Deductions to be made for breaking any rules or for injuries to horse, etc.


Umpire at each station to time hours of arrival and departure, and to watch for and note irregularities, etc. Stations to be away from towns or villages, farms, etc.

Chief umpire and veterinary umpire will be stationed at D.

Aids to Scouting






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.