Conditions for the CQ WW WPX CW Contest this weekend weren’t great. The bands had been much more cooperative only a few days earlier, but propagation rarely respects the calendar. It’s a major radio contest with call sign prefixes as valued multipliers. Though not one of my favorites, I had a plan. I would check-in a few times over the course of the 48 hour event and cherry pick as many ATNO’s as I could find searching and pouncing without concern for contest scoring.

When I jumped in on Saturday morning the very first station I worked was 4U1UN, an all time new one for me. With that one in the log I was thinking my “plan” was going to be a big success.

Turns out, that early score was the only ATNO logged in the roughly three hours I participated. 20 and 15 meters were the only ground hunted, but mediocre band conditions prevented me from digging out any other needed DX. With things not panning out the way I had hoped, I spent a little time contesting. I managed just 54 contacts for a claimed score of 5,100 with these prefixes:

4U1 9A1 AA5 AC6 AH6 CR6 DP6 DP9 ES9 HA1 HG0 IQ2 K4 KC7 KH6 KL7 KN7 KS7 KT7 KX2 KY0 LU5 LZ9 N3 N4 N6 N7 NA6 NR6 NR7 NS7 NT6 NX5 NX6 OL3 OM7 PJ2 PR2 PV2 SN7 VC2 VC7 VE7 VX7 W7 WA8 WC7 WN1 WT7 ZF1 ZX5

These results convince me that my strategy needs re-thinking.

It was a mistake to waste this once a year contest in this kind of effort. I should have fully engaged in the contest and worried about the results later. Maybe while sipping bourbon and sifting thru the log looking for ATNO’s and slot fillers. That sort of shotgun approach has worked reasonably well for me in the past, but not being a good contest operator it’s easy to be intimidated by the big scores. I am reminded of that every time I send a sequential number of “50” and the fellow on the other end responds with “2117”.

It’s a humbling sort of perspective.

Good contesters make better DXers so I need to work on that.

Station improvements aren’t just hardware and antennas. After all, the operator has to be better than the gear being used otherwise what’s the point?