Topic: Contesting

When: June 15th 2023 7:30pm

Presenter: Kirk Pickering K4RO

Bio: 30 years of active contest operating, both as a Single Operator and with several Multi Operator teams. I have won national titles in several contests, individually and as part of a team. Multi operations include various places in the Caribbean and USA. I have been a regular CW operator as part of the K3LR team in West Middlesex, PA for the last several years.

I was a regular columnist for the National Contest Journal, and later served as NCJ editor for several years. I manage the NCJ web site, and to work with the NCJ contest managers. Charter member and past officer
of the Tennessee Contest Group, now in our 29th year of promoting contesting excitement in Tennessee.


The goal of Amateur Radio contesting is to contact as many stations as possible during the contest period.

Every contest has Contest Rules:

  • Only certain bands may be used
  • The contest only takes places between certain times and on certain dates. Some contests also require “off times” when you are required to take a break from operating.  
  • An exchange of information is necessary during each contact. You may be required to send and receive a serial number, location, name or even a person’s age.
  • Only certain operating configurations can be used. You may have to choose a “category” of operation such as a single operator using low power.

Some competitions, such as the ARRL Sweepstakes, draw large numbers of hams onto the airwaves. Other contests are smaller with only limited participation.

Contests take place on both the HF and VHF/UHF/microwave bands.  On HF, contests take place on 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10-meters. Contest sponsors have agreed to keep the 60, 30, 17 and 12-meter bands off limits from competitive events. There are also contests on the VHF, UHF and microwave bands.

The best way to keep track of contest activity is through QST magazine each month. In every issue you’ll find “Contest Corral,” a comprehensive list of upcoming contests. The ARRL also offers an e-mail newsletter called the Contest Update and a bimonthly digital magazine, National Contest Journal (NCJ) that are both free to ARRL members.