30 Ham Radio Contest tips — Contest on your terms


Contesting on your termsThis 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: Contest on your terms.

Contesting is many things to many people. If you’re anything like me, you read about the great contesters in the contest writeups and see what they did during the contest. I was very impressed, stunned at the competitiveness of the operators and the stations, and was amazed at the amount of work people would do to simply win a contest.

And then I almost gave up contesting.

You see, I’m not an iron man, butt in the chair for 48-hours. I treasure my sleep. I have a wimpy antenna and for a long time had less than a kilowatt for power. In the beginning, I didn’t know much about how to contest, much less be at the top of the game.

Then I finally figured out I needed to contest on my terms, not some expectation laid down by what I read in a magazine or online about a contest.

You see, ham radio is MY hobby. I choose to do contesting as the major portion of my hobby. So I’ll follow all the contesting rules, of course, but which contests, how much time I spend in the contest, and what my goals are for the contest is contesting on my terms.

What are your terms for contesting?

Scot, K9JY

  • Excellent point.

    In my case, I would read of the multi-thousand or even million points earned by the top ops and said to myself, “this is stupid, I’ll never have a score like these top guys who do the multi-multi using million dollar super stations.

    But at some point I determined that my goal wasn’t to beat anyone else — my goal was only to better my previous score.

    Having only myself for competition gave me the drive I needed and it provided a much more realistic goal.

    I’m enjoying this series, keep up the great work!

    73 de Jeff

  • Thanks, Jeff.

    The really interesting thing to me is that I’ve operated at some of these really big stations and they still didn’t “win” (although some did). That was the point at which I hit the “what’s contesting about for me” wall when I realized there can only be one winner in the contest and I could spend tons of time and money…for what?

    And, yeah, I’m a competitive guy. I’d love to win contests.

    But I’m much better off establishing a contest goal and contesting for myself. Not to mention having more money in the bank!

  • The ulimate competition is against self — albeit to improve my station, top my score, sit the marathon or go the sprint, run stations or complete valuable QSOs during Sweepstakes, whatever one’s motivation, RadioSport competition boils down to one against one in the operator’s chair.

    It’s why I contest and great series of articles as well.

  • Great piece.

    For those of us in the 100wattsandadipole class, its got to be about improving yourself and having fun with it.

    Like K9EV, I want to better my own score, but I also want to know that I am improving my skill level. There’s always some way to get more out of what you have available. It also seems to me that the most cost effective and productive station improvements I can make are to improve the operator skills. Learn more about propagation. Learn more about busting pileups. Improve my inadequate CW skills.

    There are many things I can improve that will have an impact. All of them cost time, not money.

    But a better antenna would sure be nice. 😮


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