SPORTY AMATEUR RADIO “The most versatile hobby on earth”
Great sportsmanship is another good reason that makes “Amateur Radio – the most versatile hobby on earth”. Competition between hams and even with yourself ensures that Ham Radio can be considered to be a full blown sport instead of just an ordinary hobby. For the ardent Ham partaking in the competition aspect of the hobby every weekend, sometimes even weekdays, it indeed becomes more of a sport. The certificates on the wall, the publishing of names in Ham literature, all become trophies won as in any normal sporting event. For their prowess in Ham competitions, some of these Hams become famous names in the hamming community worldwide. These hams can be considered to be some of the best radio operators and DX’ers in the world. Really great sportsmen.
Now, before you take fright, thinking that this is not for you due to the big names in the game, think again. If you follow the competition rules, you may participate in any of these competitions doing so on more or less your own terms. The “big guns” compete against the high power stations running legal limit amplifier power, low power stations are normally seen as the 100 Watt stations and the proper QRP station will compete against his 5 Watt opponent station. Look up the rules before you decide not to participate; for instance, as a QRP station you will be up against the other QRP stations, not against the famous, high-tech, amplifier-boosted major antenna “big gun” station that you know for sure will be your biggest obstacle. You do stand a chance, I assure you; it often happens that QRP participants have better scores than QRO stations.
Looking around you will find quite a lot of these competitions to participate in; some are proper competitions, others are field day activities with no actual winners, but all have laid down rules to follow and are usually held over weekends during certain times or seasons of the year. The organizers are mostly National Societies, Amateur Radio Clubs or Ham magazines from all over the world. The sport is for all licensed Hams, the idea being to stimulate the use of the different Ham bands. Log sheets are kept during the competition, either by hand or these days with sophisticated PC logging software and in the end they get sent to the organizers who will publish the winners and send out the prized certificates. For some Hams, competitions are the highlight of Hamming; they live for it, continuously preparing, upgrading and tweaking their stations for these occasions. On the other side of the coin, an awful lot of Hams hate these competitions, they will go as far as switching of their radios when they hear: “CQ, TEST – CQ, TEST”, not realizing what fun they are missing – not to mention the rare DX opportunities passing them by.
For the DX’er, competitions are heaven; the reason being that you can work more rare DX in any major competition than could be worked in months of normal operating. Competitions also fine tune any DX’ers operating skills, not to mention his station. The sporty side of Amateur Radio – taking part in competitions – normally results in station equipment and antenna set-ups that are in tip top working order. Once into the game, the fun to be had is indescribable; doing it with low power using equipment built by yourself is the pinnacle of enjoyment, and you learn a lot quickly. Within two or three weekend competitions, your knowledge of propagation and the proper use of your equipment will improve remarkably. Taking part in this sport can only benefit you, it ensures the use of the Amateur bands and it is great “sports”. For those Hams who are not to keen on competitions: (“I just hate these competitions every weekend, why do I have to put up with this? This is not Amateur Radio, this is madness!”), why not try it once? I’ll bet you will have a real change of heart and you will enjoy it. Ham competitions need your support and it ensures growth in this hobby that all of us love so much.
Vic – ZS6EA