Youth & Contesting

Discussion in 'Youth Forum' started by KJ5T, Apr 11, 2006.

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  1. KJ5T

    KJ5T Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    How many times have you told your buddy about amateur radio and they look at you in a non-amused way. You know at that point that they are not interested, and in fact they are very bored at the idea of what they would be doing on the radio. However, I have discovered that most of my peers are interested in a competitive environment and amateur radio contesting provides just that.

    I started contesting in June of 2004 when I took part in my first ARRL Field Day; it was, at that moment, that I decided one of my major interests in radio. The concept of amateur radio meeting the competitive environment provides a chance for those interested in competing to have a solid bridge to get involved in amateur radio as a whole.

    So here I am talking about all of this contesting, I could assume that everyone reading this knows about amateur radio contesting, and what takes place; however, for those of you who might be brand new to radio, amateur radio contesting is an activity that takes place, the contest involves making a certain number of contacts to a certain area of the world, or all around the world, in a certain amount of time. The point of the contest is in many ways to have fun and to be competitive; however, the biggest aspect of contesting is training to be a good communicator. In fact contesting goes right along with the purposes of amateur radio, as defined by part 97.

    Part a of 97.1 states the number one purpose of the amateur radio service is “Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.” When amateur radio operators take part in a contest they are training in order to help provide a communications service. We look back at the skills needed to help pass information around after the 2001 terrorist attacks, the 2004 hurricane season, the tsunami, Katrina and numerous other man made and natural diasters. These skills were generated partially from the competive sport of amateur radio contesting.

    Part b of 97.1 states the number two purpose of the amateur radio service is “Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.” Amateur radio contesters often design their own antennas and equipment advancing not only technology for themselves but studying techniques to become a better contester and in turn benefit the amateur radio community as a whole.

    Part c of 97.1 points out the number three purpose for the amateur radio service, which is, according to the part 97 rules “Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communications and technical phases of the art.” which is again what contesters do while working to improve on their contesting abilities and abilities as an amateur radio operator as a whole.

    Part d of 97.1 says “Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts. “ Going right back up to advancing the state of the radio art. These hams train not only on the air to be good communicators, but many can build stations and get them on the air as soon as needed when the time comes.

    The last part of 97.1 which I feel is one of the most important is the fact that amateur radio provides a “Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.” Contesters manage this by working DX or going on DXpeditions. Contesters wishing to hear different countries on the air for a contest will work to get that country on the air. Contesters play an important role in the overall promotion of international goodwill.

    This is not to discredit those non-contesters who have played an important role in all of these aspects of amateur radio, but to show how contesting does indeed fit right in with the goals of amateur radio. At the same time, contesting can provide that competitiveness that so many young people want.

    So now the young hams have a pretty good idea of what contesting is, and why we have amateur radio. Now is the time to tell about how young people can get involved with contesting. For those just starting out with radio, I would recommend purchasing an All Mode radio for either six or two meters, or perhaps just a sideband or cw radio for either band, or ANY radio that covers this spectrum and allows you to do more than just FM. The idea here is that you can work VHF contests right when you get your tech ticket. The VHF contests will give you a chance to experiment with your existing license, and help train you to be a better operator before you upgrade and get on HF. Also the idea is that if you learn CW so you can contest as a tech on VHF, you will already be prepared to take the CW test to upgrade for HF.

    For those who have upgraded to general class or above, and have an HF radio, there are plenty of HF contests. There is one just about every weekend. There is a calendar on, and most major contests usually get mentioned on at some point or another. The idea here is to just jump in the contest, and improve your set-up and your skills as you go along.

    I hear you asking now, are there any contest clubs for youth hams? The answer is yes. The Worldwide Young Contesters organization was founded in Europe over seven years ago. The group now has nearly 800 members, and has a strong presence in most major HF contests, and even in VHF/UHF contests. The group is made up for a diverse set of young hams who use numerous modes. The idea of joining this group is not only to have someone to chat with who shares the same interest, but to get some help when needed. The group can offer you help in setting up your station, improving your station, improving your operating skills, and even making scheduled contacts on the air to help you.

    The future of amateur radio is the young hams, and contesting is one of the many aspects of the hobby which can attract those young people. Contesting provides a great beginning and opens the doors to so much more. I challenge the young hams here at QRZ to do two things. Number one, I think most importantly, you should get on the air. If you have been off the air for awhile, dust off the gear and take part in a upcoming contest. Number two, invite a friend over during the next contest and show them one side of the hobby that they might find to be very exciting.


  2. KC0KBH

    KC0KBH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nice article, Steve. [​IMG]
  3. KJ5T

    KJ5T Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, contesting isn't for everyone. Some find enjoyment in other aspects of the hobby (which I hope to use this forum to cover the various different directions that young hams can go). In general, there is something for everyone who is interested. So I am sorry to hear that you have lost interest in contesting, and it looks like radio itself. I hope that those viewing this forum who are licensed get on the air and if they get bored doing one thing that they find the many other aspects of the hobby.
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