How to learn from every ham radio contest

When taking notes at the end of the contest — what went well and what could have been better — what should you consider for inclusion?

Here’s a short trigger list for what you can learn from every contest:

Equipment

  • Radio working properly
  • Amplifier working properly
  • Keyer working properly
  • Computer issues
  • Contesting software issues
  • Interface issues
  • Rotor box issues

Antennas

  • Each antenna, each band notes
  • Directional weakness and strengths
  • Listening antenna performance
  • Feedline issues

Contest Performance

  • Right band, right time
  • Right frequency for the band
  • Missed band openings
  • Propagation challenges
  • Performed handling runs well
  • Performed S&P well

Support Performance

  • Meal breaks
  • Forced time off at right times?
  • Completed contest submission on time

Once you have all of your notes, you build a to-do list for the next contest and start to complete those items.

This is a great way to continuously improve your contesting skills while learning your station’s strengths and weaknesses. This also helps you see your improvements in your contesting and that provides further motivation to improve.

Any other items that help us learn from every contest?