[CQ-Contest] And now for something completely different......

Pete Smith n4zr at contesting.com
Wed Feb 4 09:17:23 EST 2009

>Hans wrote..."What single factor do you credit with being the MOST 
>important to your success as a contester? (The "factor" can be a skill, a 
>station engineering accomplishment, an "accident of location", or whatever.)"

Well, first, I'd rewrite the question a little.  Instead of "your success 
as a contester" I'd say "your continued involvement and fascination with 
contesting."  The other wording strikes me as a little too much "only top 
tenners need apply."

That said, the biggest impetus for me was, oddly, a negative one. In the 
mid-1970s, I joined a contest club and, green as grass, was invited to come 
to a big local multi-op for the first weekend of the ARRL DX Contest, to 
operate 10 meters.

Mu first mistake was arriving too late Saturday morning - whoever heard of 
10 meters opening before sunrise?  Not me with my wire antennas.  Another 
guy had already handled the big run of Europeans.  Next vivid memory was 
being asked "How fast can you run?" and replying "Oh, 35 wpm or so."  The 
guy who asked me was nice enough (or stunned enough) not to correct my 
misunderstanding.  I sat down at the 10 meter position, and, as I recall, 
pretty much DXed my way through the remainder of the next two days, with 
very little attention from the other ops.  I thought I'd done OK - worked a 
lot of mults.

Two weeks after the contest, I got a call from the guy who invited me, 
disinviting me for the second weekend.  A guy was coming down from 
Connecticut with a super receiver, he explained, and they wanted that guy 
to operate 10 meters with it.  Needless to say, I was crushed.

In retrospect, it was a near thing.  I could just as easily have turned my 
back on contesting and the contest club, but for some reason I 
didn't.  Ever since, I think my determination not ever to have another 
experience like that has been an important motivation for me to learn more 
and do better in contesting.

What's the moral of the story?  Remember what it was like when you were a 
newbie contester, and provide *lots* of guidance to new contesters who you 
involve in your operations.  A simple push off the end of the dock may be 
tempting, particularly if you're busy yourself, but it's not the way to 
keep people interested in swimming (or contesting).

73, Pete N4ZR

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