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What REALLY makes you good?

Subject: What REALLY makes you good?
From: Swanson, Glenn, KB1GW" <gswanson@arrl.org (Swanson, Glenn, KB1GW)


     To pick up just *one* of the comments posted by Trey, specifically,
     "o Know the bands.  Nothing like knowing the right band to be on
                   to improve your score.", here are just *two* observations 
I've made
     recently. They may serve to demonstrate that some folks *work* at
     being "highly accomplished contester[s]." And, just  maybe, a
     "secret" or two will be revealed in the process. What *really* makes
     you good at contesting (or anything else, for that matter)? My 2-cents:

     An experience from just last evening comes to mind. While tuning
     around on 160 meters, I came across Matt, KC1XX, who was in the
     process of comparing his recent ARRL DX CW log with another
     contester who, apparently, had entered in the same class (multi-
     single) as Matt. One (paraphrased) snippet of this QSO: "Okay,
     what time did you make your first contact with Europe on [band]
                   meters?" Answer, "Lets see, we worked EA8XXX at XX:XX 
                   And judging by the other call signs in the log from that 
time, it looks
                  like the band was open to southern Europe at that time. 
And, "Okay,
                  our first one was at XX;XX UTC, so you switched to [band] 
                  about X minutes before we did."

     Were they worried about who switched to that band first? Maybe,
     but the main thrust here is that they were going through their logs
     to *study propagation.* What band was open and to where--based upon
     their logged contacts. Who switched to what band, and when, is 
     more work, this time they are attempting to  *study strategy.* Does all
     this work (study) pay off? Well, let's see who's rumored to be at the
     top of the multi-single category from this contest--well, I'll be, it's 
     other than KC1XX. How about that?  Secret: Analyze past 

     One more quick story. While sitting next to Dan, K1TO, at a multi-multi
     station *prior to* a contest, I observed him sitting off in one corner 
     a room adjoining the main station setup. He had a stack of papers in
     his lap and was intently reading them. What was he doing? *Studying*
     sun rise/set tables (as published in the ARRL Operating Manual) to
     *learn* where the sun would be setting or rising at various times. 
     when he was operating, I watched as he consulted the tables--and
     made (quick) "notes" as he made contacts. Sure enough--he pointed
     out to me just how close (in minutes) the tables had predicted sun
     rise/set times for various areas of the world and how call signs from
     those areas were appearing in our log.  Secret: Study propagation.

     Hope I did not bore you! Nor offend or embarrass Matt or Dan--they
     are however, strong candidates for my personal "hero" list, to be sure! 

                   I can say that I know of no "list" of secrets--there is 
no such thing.
                   Nor, do I believe there are any "secret societies" of 
                   I do believe that there may be some things known to those 
that have
                   put in the effort to study, learn, ask questions and work 
                   excellence--and they have *earned* the rights to any 
"secrets" they
                   *may* have uncovered during the process--if any. Secret: 
Work hard;
     and you will be rewarded for your efforts! ("The American Way," No?)

     Whew, and that was two examples--from just one of Trey's points! HI
     A great question--with no 'simple' answer, however.  CQ Contest!

               73, Glenn, KB1GW
               A "second-tier" contester.

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