[CQ-Contest] Going Around in Circles: Improving Club Competition

Pete Smith pete.n4zr at gmail.com
Mon May 28 08:42:15 EDT 2007

I was going to submit this for publication in NCJ, but local response has 
been good enough and the topic is timely enough so that I decided not to 
wait.  Moreover, this reflector is read around the world, which is not 
generally the case with NCJ, and this is a case where international 
cooperation is essential.  All comments and criticisms are welcome, of course.

73, Pete N4ZR

Any readers of this message are probably aware of the Potomac Valley Radio 
Club's unprecedented voluntarily forfeiting of the 2006 Sweepstakes club 
competition.  PVRC decided to do this because of unwitting mistakes in the 
club's management of its competitive "circle," the area within which club 
members must live and often operate in order for their scores to count for 
the club.

In the course of reaching this outcome, a number of us in PVRC worked hard 
on understanding and applying available tools for mapping locations and 
establishing exactly where the club's circle should be drawn.  What 
follows, however, does not represent the club's position, nor those of the 
other individuals who worked on this.  It is simply one contester's 
proposal for solving a number of problems in club competition that have 
arisen over the years.

First, the current situation.  Of the 22 major contests that have club 
competitions, 4 (all sponsored by CQ) use a 275-km (170.88-mile) radius 
circle.  10, including all ARRL contests with club competition, use a 
175-mile circle.  4 (the Russian DX Contest and the 3 WAE contests) use a 
500-km (310.7-mile) DIAMETER circle.  Two, sponsored by CQ, specify only 
that club competitors must reside in a "local geographic area", while two 
more CQ contests have no geographic restriction on club competition at all.

This situation is a real administrative nightmare for large contest clubs 
that are attempting strict compliance with the rules.  Simply drawing 
different-radius circles around the same center point doesn't work terribly 
well, because no club's members are distributed symmetrically within the 
club area.  Further complicating things, the Russian DX Contest requires 
that the club circle be centered on a headquarters club station, which most 
of the major US clubs, at least, do not have. Many, many members are 
in-area for one contest, out for the next, and so on.

What I am suggesting is that the major contest sponsors agree on a common 
definition of the club circle, to promote club participation in their 
contests.  Simply:

A 300-km (186.4-mile) radius club area (circle) would be used for all 
contests with club competition (and for unlimited club competition, in ARRL 

If the property where a club member resides is entirely within the club 
circle, or if the circle passes through that property, then that member 
would be considered to reside within the club area; and

If a station is located on such a property, it would be considered to be 
within the club area.  Each club would declare (and have the option to 
change) its circle center no more often than once per calendar year, to 
accommodate population trends and other factors.

By establishing a uniform circle definition, we will enable clubs to tell 
their members and prospective members definitively whether their scores can 
count toward club competition.  Because the 300-km. radius is slightly 
larger than any of the current standards, nobody currently in-area will be 
penalized by the change.  The circle most dramatically affected would see 
its radius grow by 50 Km.

Comments?  Which major contest club will be first to petition the sponsors 
for the change?

73, Pete N4ZR

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