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Author Topic: Top scoring contesters  (Read 4205 times)

Posts: 53

« on: March 13, 2008, 10:38:08 AM »

I would say that most of the  regularly top scoring contesters have and invested a lot of money in their equipment.  Beam antennas, top of the line radios, memory keyers, recorded voice macros etc ( which is why when you hear a contest everybody gets a 59 report).  Does your regular everyday good ole boy Ham have a chance now a days to be a top scoring contestor?

Posts: 5639

« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2008, 01:24:16 PM »

No competition, whether radio, competitive shooting or whatever has ever been 'fair" to the little guy UNLESS there is a some kind of restricted category. Unlimited class competitions ALWAYS favor the folk with the big rigs, big guns, big cars, etc.

That doesn't mean the rest of the folks can't be competitive within their own equipment range.

I remember hearing a speed shop owner's response when he was asked if he could make a fella's car go fast enough to win drag races -"how fast I can make your car go depends upon how much money you want to spend!"


Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut

A smoking section in a restaurant makes as much sense as a peeing section in a swimming pool.

Posts: 20

« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2008, 02:53:42 PM »

In contesting, no one disputes that bigger is better, in terms of score.  This is quite discouraging for most of us that use pea-shooters when going up against the "weapons of mass destruction".  In addition to spending tons of money on their stations, it must also be pointed out that the location is hugely important.  It is no surprise that the majority of record holders are located near the equator, or at least near salt water (or both).  So to find out who the best contesters really are, in terms of skill, a level playing field is required.  This is the intended purpose of the WRTC competitions.  Yet very few people can afford to attend and even fewer will actually qualify.  To make matters worse, the somewhat arbitrary zoning of the Earth can add to the problem.  For example, Alberta (my location) shares the same zone as Ontario in one worldwide contest.  Yet we are just about as far from Ontario as Ontario is from Europe (and they get all the extra multipliers).  

Perhaps we should stop referring to contesting as a "sport".  Sports usually involve rules that apply to everyone in a similar fashion.  For example, golf requires all players to use regulation equipment and play on regulation courses.  Basketball requires one ball and two hoops.  Radio contesting is different.  If it were golf, one guy could use a laser guided canon to get his tee shot within a few feet of the cup, while the other guy used a set of 40 year old clubs.  Which one gets more enjoyment?  

The bottom line is that this "radio sport" is inherently flawed.  It boils down to enjoying the challenges on a personal level, bettering previous scores, beating out others who contest with similar equipment from not too far away, and simply from the pleasure of developing new knowledge and skills.  With the contests increasing activity way above normal levels, it becomes possible or more likely to work new entities and earn more certificates (DXCC, WAS, etc.).  Happiness is based on one's expectations, and achieving a series of small, but reasonable goals.  By looking back at previous scores, band conditions, and changes in my station, I try to set these goals so that I feel like I am going in a positive direction.  Occasionally breaking through pile-ups and getting that rare double mult brings a great sense of accomplishment, even if it only lasts a few seconds.  But then, you have to realize all the work and experience it took just to get to that moment of satisfaction.  


Posts: 514

« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2008, 04:19:45 PM »

>I would say that most of the regularly top scoring contesters have and invested a lot of money in their equipment.  

The biggest investment most top scoring contesters have made is time.  Yes, many of them have big stations now, with top of the line gear.  Most have built their stations over time.  Most of the people whose calls you see at the top of the list developed their skills by operating in a lot of contests year after year.

Contesting history is full of examples of guys who have come into the game, threw a bunch of money around, and still didn't win.  And then they went away.

>Does your regular everyday good ole boy Ham have a chance now a days to be a top scoring contestor?

Yes, if he is willing to make the investment in time to develop the skills necessary to be a top scoring contester.


Posts: 107

« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2008, 05:30:46 PM »

I agree with K9NW, time is a major investment. Time to learn strategy, band openings, operating techniques, ect.

BUt, they also spend alot on equipment. It makes no difference in any "top" of anything. Most top baseball teams spend alot of money. Top auto racers spend lots of money.

Top scoring means alot to many. To me, with a small station, it means to TOP my previous best, or, to give a local big gun a run.

73-Chuck KI9A

Posts: 719


« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2008, 05:31:42 AM »

KI9A and K9NW are, of course, dead right: time is the most important investment.  Time not only gives you experience, it exposes you to more resources (information, people, hardware deals, etc).

There are a number of hams who are primarily DXers and have big stations that rarely get used for contests, especially domestic ones.  Hone your skills with what you've got and ask around your local club.  You don't have to own a big station to operate a big station!

Posts: 4283


« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2008, 06:44:51 AM »

Depends on the contest and the particular entry class you compete in.

For #1 in the world, no you can't compete.  For #1 Low Power in your state, yes you can get a #1 certificate.

Posts: 467

« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2008, 03:26:29 AM »

I have many #1 certificates in big ARRL contests by choosing single band, low power, and in contests like the 10 meter contest choosing one mode. Simple search and pounce operation when the band was open. Yes sometimes I'm the only person in the category in my section but what the hey, I still had fun.

Try different things too. In 1975 I tried to get all 80 sections in the SS contest with only 80 contacts. I settled for 78 sections with 78 contacts but the contest robot knocked it down to 75 in 75. But I still had fun.

Posts: 467

« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2008, 03:36:50 AM »

I don't know why I said 1975. My mind is in the past. I meant 2005.

Posts: 5215

« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2008, 04:29:19 AM »

In the NAQP I could sit for hours on a single frequency on 80M and pick up 100 an hour. And this was with a radio that's nearly 40 years old and a dipole strung between trees. I was a "big gun" there. But I made the mistake of not working the higher bands when they were open...

For something that really emphasizes skill over being a big gun, try the North American Sprint.

I suspect you're missing the real point: if only the top-scoring 5 people thought contesting was worthwhile, there'd only be 5 guys in each contest. In the end it's not about the scores, but about the challenge, and also about the intense spurt of operation on the big contest weekends.

And to be honest, once 30 years ago, I did get a nearly-top score - in the Novice Roundup!

Posts: 365

« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2008, 06:23:39 AM »

Yes the money spent on good stations and locations are the enablers, but as pointed out by others *time* is arguably the bigger factor. This includes time spent learning new technology, time spent learning and trying different things operationally. And perhaps the most important, the time spent in the operator chair during the contest, And this includes time spent searching the bands.

And in the case of VHF contests the top scorers put time into searching the bands, and that includes keeping the antennas moving, and not just fixating on the larger population centers. And time spent calling CQ as much as possible.

Posts: 793

« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2008, 07:25:53 PM »

A great driver in a slow car won't win the Indy...same goes for a contest. I love contesting, but my station is in my residence. It is not comparable to the true contest stations sited in the optimal location, then fitted out with the best antennas money can erect. Even the greatest station is not guaranteed of a top score without an experienced op in the seat for the full tour. Last weekend in the WPX SSB, there was a V25 station with a great signal who could have run 100/hour, but he was a bit slow. He had fun, but didnt hold a candle to P40A or many others.  Winning is always about giving max effort with the best odds before the show starts.

Posts: 55

« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2008, 05:20:41 PM »

As a new ham, I can say that the best and generally nicest hams are working in the big gun contest stations. In the last CQ contest, I told a big gun station operator that he was my first contact for their area, both in Chile and in CT. In both cases, they worked through the QRM to get my callsign and exchange rst, even though it took a while, and both made sure that I would qsl their stations.  Few 'average' hams would care enough to do that.

Old timers have said 'Sure, send me a QSL, I always reply!" My log has many that never did.

Posts: 63

« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2008, 06:10:38 AM »

Yes, you can.

None of the top operators was born with magical contesting skills.  There is only one way to become a top-operator, and that is through chair time, plain and simple.

Are you going to win the CQWW from your home station running 100 watts to a dipole?  Probably not.  However, take that same station and go to an exotic location, and you will turn in a top score for that country...

You can also "Rent-A-Shack" at some exotic location.  It will come with radios and antennas, just supply the operator(s), and away you go.

You can also ask around, and find your local "Super Station".  It seems they are always in the market for operators to run multi-single or multi-multi contests.  You can spend some quality time with seasoned contesters, and also get in some chair time.

So - can you become a top operator?  Sure - why not?  
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