30 Ham Radio Contesting Tips — Join a contesting club

Tower and AntennaThis month, I’m providing a ham radio contest tip-a-day (along with other posts) to help you trigger your own contesting activities.

Today’s tip: Join a contesting club.

Clubs are the heart of Amateur Radio, in my humble opinion. Hams in clubs provide support for their members, encourage ham radio friendships, and give focus and direction for their membership.

Now, general interest ham radio clubs are an important start to people who may be interested in contesting. There are usually programs provided to the membership about contesting or subsets of the membership roster who do ham radio contests. Most general interest clubs also sponsor a Field Day which is often the first glimpse of contesting-like operation for a ham (it was mine).

But most areas also have clubs specifically devoted to ham radio contesting. Because the club can submit club scores, the club is often geographically disbursed and meetings are anywhere from formal to ad hoc depending upon the club.

There are a few common characteristics of contest clubs. Most have an e-mail reflector. Most have a web site. Most have an electronic newsletter.

Off of these three common contest club traits come the unique advantages of belonging to a contest club:

  • Contesting support. Someone in the contest club has your logging program, can answer your question about the rules of a specific contest, and can tell you their experiences in a contest with that radio and antenna setup that you are thinking of doing. This is much more specific support than you are likely to find at a differently focused Amateur Radio Club.
  • Camaraderie. Because a contesting club will submit scores as a club, there is a much stronger sense of “team” in a contest club.
  • Contesting e-mail reflectors tend to be much more active than other types of radio reflectors because of the focus on the results of the last contest or the planning of the next contest.

As with most things, specialization increases focus and knowledge about a particular subject. Specializing in contesting as part of your ham radio hobby is no different. And the fastest way to increase your knowledge about contesting outside of operating contests is to belong to a ham radio contesting club.

Scot, K9JY