[CQ-Contest] Another view on club competition

Dave_Hoaglin at abtassoc.com Dave_Hoaglin at abtassoc.com
Mon Jan 6 14:36:29 EST 2003

The op-ed piece by Ken WM5R in the Nov/Dec issue of NCJ makes a number of
thought-provoking points, contrasting club competiton (in ARRL contests)
with team contesting (in, for example, NAQP).  I would like to offer
another perspective (and correct some misinterpretations of the ARRL

In the interest of full disclosure: I have been an active member of the
Yankee Clipper Contest Club for nearly ten years.

>From my experience it would be more accurate to describe serious contest
clubs as recruiting and nurturing potential contesters, rather than scaring
them away.  In face-to-face meetings and via the club's reflector, the new
contester can gain lots of valuable advice and mentoring (from time to time
YCCC offers such help in a more organized form at a "contest university").
Opportunities to participate at a multi-op often come along.  Nearby
members can (and do) loan equipment and help with putting up antennas and
troubleshooting.  Much of the progress that I have made as contester is due
to generous advice that I have received from a number of experienced
members of YCCC.  One newer member joined a couple of years ago with no
serious contesting experience; with encouragement from other members and
his own hard work, he is now turning in sizable scores in most major
contests.  Instead of pressure to perform well, I have more often seen an
environment in which performing well is applauded, and every score (no
matter how small) is valued.  This depth of participation, outside the
ranks of the "big guns," is largely responsible for YCCC's success in ARRL
DX and CQWW DX in recent years.  Team contesting has its benefits and might
make a worthwhile addition to some ARRL contests, but it cannot replace
active participation in a serious contest club, especially if the members
of the team live far apart.

Ken mentions "arbitrary distance and attendance rules for club
competition."  Fortunately the ARRL has recently made changes in both of
these areas (see November 2002 QST).  Though any choice of diameter would
be in some sense arbitrary, a circle is a reasonable shape for a club's
territory; and now a club can choose instead to define its territory as a
single ARRL section.  Attendance is no longer required; in order to be
eligible a person need only be "a member in good standing," as defined by
the individual club.

It is conceivable that managing of the number of entries may occur in some
instances. But, if it were widespread, the numbers of logs submitted in the
Medium and Local categories should show some evidence of it, in the form of
a clump of clubs whose numbers of entries are at or just below the upper
limit of their category.  The data from 2001 (the latest year for which the
numbers appear in QST) do not show this.  In the Medium category the four
largest numbers of entries in the ARRL DX Contest were 40, 38, 32, and 29;
and in the November Sweepstakes they were 47, 32, 32, and 29.  In the Local
category it is a little harder to tell, because of the compressed range,
but I see no evidence of clumping: the four largest numbers of entries in
ARRL DX were 10, 8, 7, and 7; and in SS they were 10, 10, 8, and 8.

Ken writes, "Club members who live just outside the arbitrary club radius
can also be under tremendous pressure to not enter the contest at all."
Not at all.  To the contrary, such members cannot be under any pressure at
all, because their scores cannot count toward the club score.  When a club
submits its list of eligible members, it certifies that each of them
resides inside the club's territory.

"A member of a club who wishes to compete in the Local Club category, who
lives just outside of the 35-mile radius, actually faces a terrible
dilemma.  If she gets on in the contest, even if it's at a multi-op within
the 35-mile radius for that club, she invalidates the club as a Local club
entry."  This is completely untrue.  She would not be on the club's list of
eligible members, so her score from home would have no bearing on the
club's score.  If she participated at a multi-op inside the club's
territory, her impact on the club score would depend on the percentage of
club members among the operators at the multi-op.  As long as at least 50%
of the operators are eligible members of the club, 100% of the multi-op
score counts toward the club score.  This reflects a change in the rules
(from 66% to 50%) that makes participation in such a multi-op easier for

I'm sorry if Ken's experience has left him with a negative impression of
club contesting.  We all know contesters who are very serious and
hard-driving, perhaps too much so for some who are less committed to this
facet of our hobby.  But the disadvantages have, in my view, little to do
with the rules for club competitions, whether ARRL or CQWW.

73, Dave K1HT    k1ht at arrl.net

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