[CQ-Contest] Reeee: New Blood in Contesting

David Clemons dave at egh.com
Fri Mar 17 18:26:37 EST 2000


	I'm a little confused.  I've heard that the average age in
	contesting is getting kind of high, so that seems to indicate
	that contesting may be dying out.  I've heard that the average
	age of amateur radio operators is getting kind of high, so that
	seems to indicate that amateur radio may be dying out.  I've
	heard that the average age of human beings resident in the United
	States is pretty much a mirror image of the previously mentioned
	ages.  Does that mean that humanity in the United States is
	going to die out too?

	I've heard that we need more people in the hobby to protect it
	from extinction.  I heard we could get more people in by having
	a no-code license.  With this license, people interested in 
	electronics would swarm into our hobby.  Once a member of the
	amateur radio fraternity, they would fall in love with the code,
	upgrade, and become HF operators.  Did it work?  Hobby membership
	went up, but now that the 10 year license terms are ending, we
	are getting a much better idea of how many of these people stayed
	with the hobby.

	Now I hear that the hobby, and even contesting within it, will be
	saved by the license restructuring.  Large numbers of people will
	upgrade.  This is probably true.  Where will they operate?  Most
	will not operate cw - if they wanted to do that they would have
	already upgraded.  Instead, they will operate on SSB.  In a few
	years we will be experiencing the bottom of the sunspot cycle.  I
	know how much fun SSB is when everyone is on 20 meters, and all an
	operator has is 100 watts and a dipole/G5RV/Inverted V.  How many
	of these people will stick with HF?  I think it will be only the
	determined few.

	Lest one think I have done nothing positive to address these issues,
	I will say the following.  Over the years, I have helped numerous
	hams put up antennas and towers.  Many of these were beginners.
	Over the years I have seen many of them lose interest, even though 
	they had a general (or higher) class license and a reasonably good 
	antenna.  I have introduced many people to the hobby.  For various
	reasons most never became interested enough to get a license.  I
	have introduced many hams to contesting.  Many tried it, but only
	a few caught the fever.

	Why this seeming lack of success in spreading the good news about
	a hobby that I love?  In order to become an amateur radio operator,
	a person needs some internal motivation.  In order to stay interested
	in the hobby, it takes a continuation of that motivation.  It takes
	a person with a particular personality as well as motivation to 
	become a serious contester, and without that personality the person
	will not be interested in spending his/her time in this aspect of
	the hobby.

	Opening the flood gates to increase the quantity of amateurs will
	not solve the problem, if one really does exist.  The only thing
	that will work will be the slow one-to-one introduction of people
	to our hobby.  Be prepared for a long slow job.  Most will not have
	the interest or motivation to stay with it.  The few that do will
	be your reward.  Oh, and also, everyone should stop worrying about
	the sky falling in.

73, Dave Clemons K1VUT

Dave Clemons

dave at egh.com
Evans Griffiths & Hart, Inc.
55 Waltham Street, Lexington, MA 02421
(781)861-0670, (781)860-9321 (Fax)

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