WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Contesting provides an outlet for expressing one's competitive spirit through ham radio.
The basic idea in any ham radio contest is to make as many contacts as you can during the contest period. Typically each contact is worth a set number of points which can be increased by gathering what are known as "multipliers". These might be the number of different countries, or states, or prefixes that you contact during the contest.
The bottom line: the more QSOs complete and the more multipliers you accumulate, the better your final score.
My first contest experience was in the 1969 ARRL CW Sweepstakes.
On a challenge from a school classmate who was also a ham, I entered the contest. It was a "one-on-one" competition between the two of us. At the time, I was still a Novice running only 60 watts from my Knight-Kit T-60 and limited to only 3 or 4 crystal frequencies.
Going none-stop all weekend, I managed to complete around 27 QSOs. My challenger, who by this time had upgraded to General and had a rig with a VFO, trounced me by making about 60 QSOs.
Despite this, the contesting bug had bitten. Fortunately, I now routinely complete more than 27 QSOs in the Sweepstakes!
After years of solo contesting, I've now joined a contesting club - the South East Contest Club (aka SECC).
I invite you to visit the club's web site to learn more about it and ham radio contesting.
South East Contest Club web site