DXing for fun, not formal recognition


I chase DX within the yellow!

DXing was a potent stepping stone into amateur radio for me. SW DXing, that is – as a mere listener. It converted “magic” and “radio” into synonymous terms in my psyche and I consider it a very fortuitous way of becoming a ham radio DXer.

As I read various DX forums, magazine articles and other media, I’m sometimes left feeling like I’m the only DXer on the planet who chases DX for the sheer joy of it. The bulk of what I read (and of what’s out there to be read) has to do with activating a far-flung island, getting a rare QSL/LoTW confirmation, making the Honor Roll or achieving some other goal prescribed, described and sanctified by an Entity.

I used to be among them, thinking that having the ARRL confer DXCC upon me would be a pinnacle of my ham career – a way to mark my progress and accomplishments as a DXer. Ditto for CQ Magazine’s “Worked All Zones” award.

But I accomplished those things and suddenly something happened – the award for which I now qualified no longer held its appeal.

The accomplishment felt great – I just didn’t see the need to have someone else tell me what I already knew. I have QSLs from 100 countries – why do I need the ARRL to tell me that? The motivation to work those 100 countries didn’t come from the DXCC award – it just sort of happened along the way as I chased DX.

I do set goals for myself but they have nothing to do with external awards.

I think official awards dilute DXing and frustrate DXers because, for many of them, the chase becomes about the award rather than the joy along the way. This is driven home to me almost weekly by what I read of/from other DXers.

I’ve pondered why we need recognition from a higher authority to make our accomplishments bona fide. It’s not just that way in ham radio but in other areas of life as well. Other hobbies, the job, etc.

It’s an interesting aspect of life and human psychology that I’d like to learn more about, but for now, I’m happy to be (once again) on the outside looking in; and enjoying DXing for the pure sake of DXing.

No additives required.



  6 comments for “DXing for fun, not formal recognition

  1. Scott 2E0OZI
    March 16, 2014 at 5:31 am

    I suppose I felt the same way since I started in ham radio a few years ago. The collecting of QSL cards never meant that much to me, and I don’t have the time or inclination for contests – I’d often rather being doing something else than sitting in a small room with a radio (particularly on a nice sunny dry day!). But when I DO get a “new one” in my laid back casual way, a smile definitely comes to my face. I look at my QRZ total of countries in thier new logbook, and am pleased I have communicated with men and women in 59 different countries. I look at my paper log, that I started when I switched 100% to CW, and have a warm glow when I read back some of the entries.

    Thats all it means to me – and I’m the only one that needs to be satisfied – its not life and death! As the great cartoonist Michael Leunig once put in one of his most poignant cartoons “anytime people are absorbed and obsessed by a contest…go outside for a walk and look at the real world”.

    Bye for now, the sun is out the roads are dry and the 750 needs to be ridden. She’s calling to me.

    73 Scotty

    • March 16, 2014 at 6:08 am

      Have a fun ride, Scotty. I sure miss my old Honda Magna on days like you describe. If I had one now and a needed entity was booming in on 20m, it would be a tough call for me…!

  2. March 16, 2014 at 8:14 am

    I share your worldview. The amateur radio community has built up an industry revolving around milestones and certificates. If a ham has worked all 50 states does it mean he really hasn’t because he doesn’t have an ARRL certificate on his wall? Myself, I look to amateur radio as a refuge from the rat race. Enjoying each contact as an end in itself. Enjoying each new city, town, state, country contact and each new ham acquaintance as an end in itself. Looking at the location on a map and reading about in on the Web. I don’t find myself needing to confirm anything I already know to be true.

    • March 16, 2014 at 8:45 am

      “Looking at the location on a map and reading about in on the Web.”

      (I’m glad I’m not alone in that – this is yet another example of how ham radio can be educational beyond the technical aspect normally associated with it.)

      A few moments ago, I posed the same question of DXing/awards on eHam’s DX forum as I genuinely would like to get a feel for how many others feel the same way.

      Sometimes I get a feeling that society in general is moving away from the need for official authentication of deeds accomplished, goals met, etc…as governments get bigger, maybe this is a way to subconsciously rebel against the need of an overseer to bless us with their validation.

  3. Alan Dove
    March 17, 2014 at 9:26 am

    This is pretty much the story of my life. Whenever I’ve gotten preoccupied by some externally-conferred acknowledgement, it’s ended up sapping my motivation rather than boosting it. Of course society pressures everyone to pursue those external acknowledgements – work for money, go to school for degrees, compete for awards – so it took me quite awhile to realize that those things don’t really satisfy me. I’m much happier achieving a “personal best” than clearing a bar someone else set and many others have already cleared. On the other hand, if someone says something can’t be or hasn’t been done, or otherwise defines an outer limit, I’m immediately keen to prove them wrong. I think that’s why I like QRP so much.

    • March 17, 2014 at 9:46 am

      Your last sentence really hits home with me. Several years ago, I posted something to the effect of having just put up a dipole and finally being active on 80m for the first time in years. A K7 in AZ told me I wouldn’t work any real DX with it since it wasn’t anywhere near 1/2-wavelength in height.

      Well that was all it took and the rest is history. He provided far more motivation than any DX award ever could.

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