This contesting is nuts. Why do we do it?
Scott Davis, N3FJP, the creator of the N3FJP line of computer logging programs from Affirmatech, answered a question on the N3FJP reflector with a link to the FAQ page.
This contesting is nuts. Why do we do it?
This question isn’t software specific, but the reasons for the tremendous fun of contesting aren’t always evident and they are too important to miss, especially for new folks just entering the hobby. What draws us to spend major contest weekends happily glued to our radios?
Following CQ World Wide CW 2020, one of our club’s excellent, experienced contesters, having just made over 1,000 Qs, wrote on our virtual clubhouse text chat group, tongue in cheek and rhetorically: This contesting is nuts! Why do we do it?
Spent from the weekend, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, but the question stayed with me. This contesting IS nuts. It’s hard work, takes education, effort, dedication, experimentation, knowledge, ingenuity, planning and serious time in the chair. Why DO we do it?
It turns out that, at least for me, there are lots of great reasons! Here are a few off the top of my head. I’ll bet that you can add to this list…
Amateur Radio’s basis and purpose includes emergency communication. There is no better opportunity than during a contest to determine, band by band, the strengths and weaknesses of your station. If your station can’t make many contacts during a contest, you will be ineffective in passing emergency traffic out of your affected area.
And that is just one piece of how contesting enhances our emergency communications ability. A contest provides the opportunity to:
– Practice copying information from stations both weak and strong.
– Check the ergonomics of our station during extended operations.
– See how we hold up with significant time in the operator chair.
– Learn about propagation and what to expect at various times of the day on different bands.
And if the emergency communications contest benefits don’t stir your juices, many of us find the contest experience itself to be tremendous fun! The contesting experience alone keeps us coming back and circling the next events on our calendars because:
– It is thrilling to communicate to every state, section and the four corners of the Earth, including some rare and exotic locations, with nothing but a piece of wire or metal in our yards, from the comfort of our homes and families.
– It is thrilling to set goals, like beating your previous personal best score, having the fastest QSO rate in the club for a one-hour period or scoring top five in the club and then striving to accomplish it.
– It is joyful to share a quick connection, however brief, with all the other stations that have become familiar on contest weekends.
– It is thrilling to watch the bands rise and fall like the tide over the course of the contest weekend, anticipating what may open next.
– It is thrilling to watch our individual and club’s collective QSO rates soar when the bands come alive, on our club’s real time leader board.
– It is thrilling to simultaneously, whole heartedly cheer our NEMARCS brothers and sisters on, while doing our very best to leave them in the dust!
– It is thrilling to recognize the very real accomplishments of our scores, individually and collectively, with our club total. We know full well what goes into building a successful station and putting in a successful contest effort!
– It is joyful to exchange quick banter on our virtual clubhouse text chat group during propagation lulls, as well as share needed multipliers, mentor new folks and encourage everyone to do their best.
– It is thrilling to see our club rankings in print and moving up the list when the final results are released!
– It is thrilling to watch our club’s scoreboard participant numbers grow, seeing new guys jump in for the first times, knowing the fun that awaits them!
– It is thrilling to get that certificate in the mail, after you have placed well enough to earn one!
– It is fascinating to learn the strengths and weaknesses of our stations, that are so quickly revealed on contest weekends.
– It is thrilling, after the contest is over, to improve our stations, our antennas and our operating skills, to see what we can do better next time. In fact, the grand contest never ends. We are always looking for that edge and helping each other find theirs!
– It is thrilling to befriend such a fine group of folks, with whom to share this amazing adventure!
This is really, really fun stuff!
Thank you, Scott for fun piece.
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