[CQ-Contest] New hams/contesters

TOMK5RC at aol.com TOMK5RC at aol.com
Thu Jun 3 11:32:43 EDT 1999

For at least 30 years, one of my passions has been perpetuating the 
traditions of ham radio and, more specifically encouraging new contesters. 
I've written about it in the NCJ countless times. My NCJ series "Where are 
they Now?" is designed to help us understand what motivates contesters, what 
keeps them interested and what makes them drop out.

For seven years, K5MA, K7BV, K5KG and I ran the Houston Ham Convention 
(including the 1933 ARRL National) with an almost singular goal of exposing 
the public to ham radio and exposing as many people to contesting as 
possible. In fact, we were often criticized by other committee members 
because the DX and contest forums were the overwhelming majority of the 

The Great Armadillo Run of 1996 was an integral part of the Texas 
Sesquicentennial Celebration. For the state, it was a novel part of the 
celebration. For the public it was exposure to ham radio. For those involved, 
it was an opportunity to run pileups from Armadillo County, TX.

A number of us introduced contesting to the hams of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico in 
the 70's. When we first met them, all they did was play dominoes every night 
and talk on 2 meters. That group is now extremely engaged in contesting and 
they hosted the XE national convention a number of years ago. For the XE's it 
was an opportunity to grow and experience new areas of ham radio. For us, it 
was an opportunity to set new records from XE2.

In the small town I lived in before moving from Texas, we provided 
communications for the MS-150 bike race. During Christmas on the Square, we 
set up a rig downtown and sent holiday greeting for people via ham radio. The 
public was exposed to ham radio and we had fun with the bikers and with the 

Is the thread coming out? The secret to overcoming "The graying of 
contesting" is for us to (as W4AN said) DO SOMETHING. Be a mentor for new 
contesters and potential hams. This is done by exposure to what we do and by 
sharing our passion. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Want some specifics?
*  Put on programs for your local schools. Stress the SAREX opportunities 
NASA is providing us with schools. 
*  Take a slide show to your local radio clubs and repeater groups. They 
would love to have you give a program on contesting.
*  Sponsor a contest forum at your section, division and state conventions.
*  Put up a display at your local hamfests and public flea markets
*  Conduct Field Day in a public area. Be sure the media is informed
*  Get involved in local events (bike races, county fairs, etc.)
*  Open your shack to non-contesters during contests

As a management consultant, I am constantly told "I have all of these 
Generation X employees who are not motivated and not engaged." Guess what? 
The answer to engaging them is sharing your passion and exposing them to your 
vision. Also, you must stress WII-FM (What's In It For Me?). Yep, people 
actually want to know what benefit behaving differently will have for them. 

Instead of spending hours writing e-mails to the reflector, get off your ass 
and do something!

Tom, K5RC
aka K7GJ

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