Although I’ve spent more than forty years in the hobby and have managed to stay enthusiastically involved for all that time, until only recently I was never concerned with awards. I’ve always considered myself a casual radio operator who enjoyed ragchewing more than anything else. And to be honest, I always thought the serious paper chasers were obsessed without good reason.

But in this season of life I’ve become interested in accomplishing things that will require some paper. I’ve squandered a lot of valuable time and now the achievement of certain goals will require more attention to detail and considerable effort.

That’s why I’m preparing to make a run at the DX Marathon next year. I don’t expect to “win” anything, but I expect the focused effort to be valuable in other ways.

For instance, when FT8 became a thing several summers ago i jumped onboard and spent the next 8 months working anything I could with the result being a log full of new contacts. And because digital operators are the best at using LoTW, I had WAS via FT8 in the first few weeks of that run. I wasn’t trying for it, but you work a few thousand stations and chances are good you’ve worked all fifty states.

Had I been smarter I would have only worked what I needed and saved a lot of time and effort. But my approach was casual, or better, haphazard. I wasn’t trying to achieve WAS on FT8 so it didn’t matter to me who I worked. The same has been true for most of my radio life. I’ve never tried to achieve a particular goal that would lead to some sort of award. That was the business of those odd, obsessive type radio enthusiasts, not me.

But having now rejected that notion, I want the awards and have started sleuthing through my log with an eye toward achievement and finding a lot of low-hanging fruit.

As an example, I have WAS on CW and Digital but not on Phone. That’s not surprising given my preference for CW and that I don’t do much phone work at all. Even so, looking through the logs I discover that all I need is Alaska, Idaho, South Dakota, and Utah confirmed on Phone to qualify for WAS Phone which would also yield the Triple Play WAS Award. Then I see 47 confirmed on 80M, 49 confirmed on 40M, 49 on 30M, and 48 confirmed on 20M. I’m very close on most bands with RTTY too.

And don’t even get me started on DX awards. It’s a crying shame what years of not logging has done to my permanent ham radio record.

Whatever aversion I once had to chasing paper has ended. There may not be enough years left in my life to finish big, but it won’t be for lack of effort at this point in the long adventure.