Ham Radio Contesting
Radio Contesting (which is also known as radiosport) in simple, is a competitive activity carried out by amateur radio operators. In these types of contests, an amateur radio station, whether they are operated by an individual or a complete team of people, attempt to contact as many amateur radio stations as they possibly can within a set time frame while exchanging information with each station contacted. Each competitions rules provide the parameters and guidelines that determine the amateur radio bands, the different modes of communication that are allowed, as well as the type of information to be exchanged with every radio station contacted. The aggregate contacts made during a contest are compiled to equal a corresponding score which is used to develop a ranking system based on those scores for each amateur radio station involved. The results of these contests are subsequently published in magazines and on websites by the competition sponsors. The details and the depth of the information published by the sponsor varies. The information can be very general and sometime it can be very comprehensive providing a detailed outline of the competition from beginning to end, even providing an article.
Ham Contesting originated from a number of other radio activities during the 1920s and 1930s. Over time transoceanic communications became progressively more common and as this happened competitions were organized with the purpose of contacting as many amateur radio stations in other countries as possible. In addition to creating a focus of contacting multiple stations in other countries, these competitions promoted an environment that allowed amateur radio operators to enhance their communication and message handling skills, which could be used during long distance routine emergency communications. As time has passed, the number of radio contest has increased exponentially which has caused a significant number of amateur radio operators to pursue this type of activity as their primary radio activity.
At this current time there is not an international governing authority or organization to manage the sport. Every competition is sponsored separately and the rules for that particular competition are established by the sponsor prior to the competition. Compliance with voluntary international band plans in not automatically inclusive in the contest rules. Participants are required, however, to remain in compliance with the rules and regulatory statutes concerning amateur radio operation in their particular country. Due to the fact that these radio contests are carried out using amateur radio, the contestants are usually restricted by the national amateur radio rules and statutes from accepting remuneration for their participation. When there is a high level of amateur radio context activity there can be a great deal of friction between contest participants and other radio users that are operating on the same spectrum when contestants fail to comply with international band plans. So, although it may not be spelled out in a particular events rules, it is best to adhere to specific band plans.
The first time you listen to a competition things will seem very chaotic and disorganized. It will be difficult to differentiate between stations that are adjacent to one another. There is a great deal of activity taking place and many times this is being done on limited bands and frequencies, creating a great deal of wave traffic. The truth is that it is a method to the madness and each step is progressive and purposeful.
In simple the objective of the competitors is to amass as many points based on the scoring formula for that particular contest (Each contest is presented by a specific sponsor and that sponsor will provide the rules and the scoring system). In a scoring formula will be the basic elements of gaining points by simply contacting other stations at a specified minimum distance and exchanging the required information to get the allotted points. There can also be multipliers added to the scoring formula. These multipliers can reflect anything form making contacts on multiple frequencies, making contact in different regions, etc. There are contest in which the score and winning might not be the primary goal. Such an instance would be field day events. Field day events are events that draw participants from around the world to participate in an event that mirrors the environment of an emergency of disaster situation. In these events, there are still points and prizes, but the primary focus is on presenting emergency broadcast readiness.
Radio enthusiast magazines, amateur radio societies, and radio clubs are normally the groups that sponsor these types of amateur radio contests. The sponsoring organization or organizations publish the rules to the contest, gather the operational logs from every participating station, then they cross reference the logs to generate a score for all of the participating stations. The sponsors then publish the results in a number of different sources such as relevant magazines, society journals, or on relative websites.
The fact that these competitions take place between radio operators that are officially licensed in the Amateur Radio Service (With certain exceptions in which contests are sponsored to awards for shortwave listeners), which specifically prohibit using radio frequencies for pecuniary interests, professional contests or professional contesters do not exist. Because of the amateur status, the award normally granted for these contest are limited to paper certificates, plaques, or trophies. One of the greatest rewards for these participants is the acknowledgement of their colleagues and the gratification of knowing that you are the best at something you are extremely passionate about.
Once the contest commences, an amateur radio operator will attempt to establish communication with other amateur radio operators in order to exchange information that is specific to the rules of the contest set forth by the sponsor. The information exchanged could include a number of things, such as signal report, the contestant’s name, the US State or Canadian Province in which the amateur station is located, the grid locator in which the corresponding station is located, the age and name of the operator, or even an incremental serial number. For each individual contact, the operator has to accurately receive the call sign of the contacted station as well as the specific information of the exchange while recording this information, including the time of contact as well as the band frequency used to make the contact in the station log. Though this sounds simple, a great deal of skill is required here, because not only is speed a requirement, but so is accuracy in recording the necessary data on the log. Any inaccuracies or discrepancies on the log can result in stiff point penalties at the end of the competition.
Each contest has a scoring formula that is implemented in order to compute scores for all participating radio stations. These scoring formulas are created and presented prior to the competitions by the sponsoring organization. The typical scoring formula will assign a particular number of points to each contact, and there will normally be some type of multiplier which will be based on a particular aspect of the information that has been exchanged. Contests that are held on the North American VHF radio bands assign a different multiplier for every new grid locator in the log. This allows the sponsors to reward the participants that make the most contacts in different locations. A number of contests reward stations with a new multiplier for every contact and information exchange they make in a different country. This is normally determined by the “entities” that that are listed on theDXCC country list, this list is maintained by the American Radio Relay League. Depending on the particular rules, each multiplier may count once for each instance or once for the entire contest, irregardless to the radio band on which the multiplier was initially earned. The points that are awarded can be uniformed with each contact or they may vary based on geographical location or a number of other variables. Variables such as whether or not the contact and communications crossed political or continental lines can determine how points are awarded. The Stew Perry Top Band Distance Challenge is a competition that awards points based on the overall distance between the two stations involved in a particular informational transaction. For the majority of competitions that take place in Europe on the microwave and VHF bands will award 1 point per kilometer of distance between the stations making contact.
One the first actions of the sponsors once they receive the logs from each station is to check them for accuracy. A competitor can have points deducted or multipliers taken away if their logs is found to have errors in data submitted for any given contact. Being that the scoring systems vary with each contest and sponsor, point totals can range from relatively small numbers to number that range into the millions. For someone new to the sport this can be somewhat confusing initially, but all scoring formulas are presented ahead of time to allow each participant to have a clear understanding of the scoring system. This way, the participants can gain an understanding of how they may use their particular set of skills and station capabilities to best exploit that particular scoring system.
In the majority of contest there are multiple categories in which amateur radio station competitors can enter. In the instance that there are multiple categories in any given contest, individual winners will be declared for each of the different categories. Some contests may designate certain geographic divisions and subsequently declare regional winners for each geographical designation.
The single operator category and the multitudinous variations thereof is the most common category. This is a category in which only one individual functions as the operator of the radio station for the full duration of the contest. The highest level of power output used throughout the contest can be used to determine the different subdivisions of the single operator category. An example would be a QRP category for a station that is using less than five watts output power or there could be a category that allows the participant to use as much power as is allowed through their particular license. The multiple operator categories are created for teams and they allow multiple individuals to function as a team that is operating through one station. This category may only allow for one transmitter to be used or may allow for multiple transmitters to be used simultaneously on separate amateur radio bands. A significant number of contest offer team and/or club competitions where the scores from multiple radio stations are combined into one aggregate score that applies to all of the stations and this applies to the station ranking as well.
Types of Contests
Every year there are a wide variety of contests for amateur radio operators sponsored. The sponsors of these contest have carefully crafted events that are competitive and serve to promote numerous and diverse interests that appeal a broad audience. As a general rule, amateur radio contest normally take place on the weekend, or in certain instances, they can be scheduled for weekday evenings and nights. The contests normally last anywhere from a couple hours up to forty-eight hours in duration. The stations that are eligible to compete in a particular event will be revealed in the rules submitted by the sponsor. The rules will also specify band frequency, communication modes allowed, and the specific period of time participants are allowed to make contact. It is important for each operator to understand the details of these rules because adherence to these rules will directly impact the final points awarded.
The rules also specify which stations are eligible to participate in a particular competitive event, as well as which amateur stations they will be allowed to contact. The rules can vary drastically; what may be allowed in one contest will be prohibited in the next. The rules in one competition may allow wide range unlimited contact and another restrict contact in certain geographical regions. There are contest that are geographically sensitive, such as the European HF Championship which fosters competition between amateur stations that are located in a particular part of the world, specifically stations in Europe. There are open contest where any amateur radio station throughout the world may contact any other amateur radio stations and gain competition credit.
The CQ World Wide DX Competition attracts literally tens of thousands of competitors each year, as it allows stations to make contact with any other station regardless to where they are located worldwide. The number of people that participate in large competitions make up a considerable percentage of radio amateur operators on the HF bands, although in total they actually make up a small percentage of amateur operators worldwide.
There are regional competitions that extend invitations to stations throughout the world to participate in the contest, but they will restrict which stations the competitor will be allowed to contact during the competition. For instance, Japanese stations that enter the Japan International DX Competition, sponsored by Five NineMagazine, are only allowed to contact other stations located outside of Japan. There are also competitions which place limitations on participants in particular country or continent, while those contacted may be allowed to contact any other stations for points.
All of these contest use one or multiple amateur radio bands which competing stations can make contact with one another. 15 Meter, 20 Meter, 40 Meter, 60 Meter, 80 Meter and 160 Meter bands can be used solely or collectively in HF contests. VHF competitions will only use all bands that are above 50 MHz. There are some competitions that allow activity on all VHR and HF bands and possibly offer points for contacts and multipliers for each band. There are competitions that allow activity on all bands but may limit each station to one contact with each station, or they my place limits on multipliers to one per competition instead of one per band. Most VHF competitions in North America allow contacts on every amateur radio band with a frequency band of 50 MHz or higher. The majority of competitions in the United Kingdom are normally restricted to one amateur band at a time. One contest in the UK that so restricts band activity in contest is the WRRL 10 Meter Contest.
These contest cater to enthusiast of all modes. Some competitions may be restricted to only CW emissions which use Morse code as their mode of communications. There are others that are restricted to telephony modes and/or spoken communications, while others use digital emissions modes such a RTTY or PSK30. There are many popular contest that are carried out over two separate weekends; one for telephony and another for CW, both under the same rules. For instance, the CQ World Wide WPX contest is held as a telephony competition only for one weekend in March, and the as a CW only competition for one weekend in May. There are competitions, especially ones that are restricted to using one frequency band that will allow the competitors to use several different emissions mode.
VHF competitions will normally allow contestants to use any mod of emission, this includes some specialty digital modes. These modes are designed specifically for use on those particular bands. Large international competitions on the HF bands can often be scheduled for durations up to forty-eight hours. As a general rule these larger competitions run from 0000 UTC on Saturday morning until 2359 UTS Sunday evening. The smaller regional events are normally scheduled for shorter durations with variations of four, twelve and 24 hours be more common.
There is a concept of “off time” used by a significant number of the events, in which a station might only operate a portion of the allotted time. The ARRL November Sweepstakes, for example, has a total duration of thirty hours, but each station participating in this contest is only allowed to be on the air for a maximum of twenty-four hours. This time off concept forces the participating stations to make the determination of when they will be on the air and when they will be off; adding the element of strategy to the competition. It was rather common in the 1930s to have events that took place over multiple weekends, but over time the number has dwindled and only a relatively small number of contests are carried out over multiple weekends. The official name for these type of competitions are “cumulative contest” and as a general rule these contest are limited to microwave frequency bands. There are what is known as “sprint contest”; these are contest that are short in duration, normally lasting just a few hours. Sprint contest have become popular among those individuals who like a fast paced and chaotic environment, or with those who don’t have the time to devote to an entire weekend. One of the unique features of the North American sprint contest is that the participants are required to switch frequencies after every other contact. This introduces another operational challenge in the way of skill and efficiency. Irregardless to the competition length those that are successful and end up at the top are those that are capable of maintaining their focus on the necessary tasks necessary to carry out all that is required to successfully fulfill the commands of the contest.
The wide and diverse variations of contests serves to attract a large variation of contestants and stations. The varying rules and structure of each competition helps determine the strategies that will be implemented by the competitors to optimize their successful contacts through the course of the competition. There are certain competitors and stations and tend to specialize in certain or particular types of contests. As this is considered a sport, it does not differ from any other sport in one specific way: The rules of the sport evolve over time and the rules most often become the central focus of most of the controversy involved.
The History of Contesting
The origination of contesting can be directly traced back the Trans-Atlantic Tests that took place in the early 1920’s. This is when a number of amateur radio operators first attempted to make contact through long distanceradio communications across the Atlantic Ocean. This was initially done on short wave amateur frequencies. Well after the first two-way communications between North America and Europe were successfully established in 1923, these type of events continued on an annual basis in which more and more of these amateur stations were able to establish successful communication across the Atlantic. Over time the distance at which communication is established has steadily increased. A new format for these annual events was proposed by the American Radio Relay League in 1927. The American Radio Relay League was instrumental in organizing and publicizing these tests. The new format proposed encouraged stations to make as many contacts with stations in other countries as possible.
In 1928, the event was renamed “The International Relay Party, and was the first organized amateur radio contest. This new organized event became an immediate success. The event was sponsored annually by the ARRL from 1927 through 1935. In 1936 the contest underwent another name change to which it is known today; the ARRL International DX Contest.
The ARRL eventually adopted a competitive format that would complement the enthusiasm surrounding the event. This competitive format was designed for non-international contacts. In 1930, the first ARRL All Sections Sweepstakes Contest was started. This contest required a more complicated exchange of information with every two-way communication that was made. This contest was an immediate success and extremely popular for both those that simply enjoyed the excitement of the event as well as those that were active in the NTS used the event as a way to gauge the status and capacity of their stations. In 1962, the competition that was sponsored by the ARRL became known as the ARRL November Sweepstakes.
Field day operating events became another early innovation of contesting. In 1930, Great Britain held the earliest known organized field event and shortly thereafter, the practice was being emulated throughout Europe and North America. In 1933, the first ARRL International Field Day was held. The event was publicized through the ARRL’s membership journal. These events were promoted as the opportunity for amateur radio operators to set up and operate from portable locations. These environments were set to simulate what would most likely be encountered during emergencies and disasters. These field day contest have generally carried the same scoring and general operating procedures and all other contest, with the exception that the emphasis was placed on emergency readiness. Historically the readiness and emergency capability has carried more gravity in these events than the competitive side of the event.
The contemporary contest draw on the historical emphasis on communications readiness and traffic handling created by the heritage of DX communications. Since the origin of these competitive events, the number of events and sponsors have increased over the years. As far back as 1934, contest were sponsored by radio societies in a number of countries. Some counties include Poland, Canada, Australia, and Spain. A new contest that was designed specifically for the 10 meter band in amateur radio was sponsored by the ARRL as well. In late 1937, there were competitions sponsored in countries like Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, France, Brazil, and New Zealand. In 1948, the first RTTY competition was sponsored by the RTTY Society located in California in 1957. In 1948, the ARRL VHF Sweepstakes was held and was the first of many. The National Contest Journal was the first publication that exclusively dedicated to the sport. The National Contest Journal began full circulation in the US in 1973. CQ Amateur Radio magazine recognize the longevity and the maturity of the sport and in 1986 they founded and established the Contest Hall of Fame. Ham Contesting had become an acknowledged and well-established international sport; having thousands upon thousands of active participants. These participants were not simply connected by their on air activities, but through a number of different mediums such as journals, websites, and conventions.
Because there is not one single governing or authoritative body or organization overseeing the sport, the sport has never had a unified world or international ranking system. A unified international ranking system would allow competitors to measure themselves against other competitors on a standard scale. Another thing that makes it extremely difficult to make accurate comparisons between different competitors is the variances in locations from which each competitor participates in numerous contest, and the variances in affect that a particular location has on radio propagation as well as the proximity these locations have to major populations of amateur radio operators.
In July of 1990, the first World Radio Sport Team Championship was held in Seattle, WA. This event was an effort at overcoming some of the issues by inviting the top competitors from around the world to come over and operate similar or standard stations during a contest in one centralized geographical location. The event consisted of 22 teams made up of two operators per team from fifteen different countries. These teams represented the top competitors from countries like the former Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc nations. For many of these competitors, it was their first trip to the Western Hemisphere. Subsequently, there have been a number of WRTC competitions held since then. Events have been held in San Francisco, CA (1996); Bled, Slovenia (2000); Helsinki, Finland (2002) and Florianopolis, Brazil (2006). The WRTC is arguably the closest thing to having a World Championship in the sport. The next WRTC event will be hosted in New England in 2014.
As far as activity is concerned, the scale of activity varies by contest. The largest contest would be the annual DX competitions; allowing worldwide participation. A large majority of these DX competitions have been held annually for 50 years or more, and they have huge devoted followings. Some newer contest, are ones that restrict competitor participation based on geographic location, and ones that are set up for shorter durations; these tend to have fewer participating stations than the larger, more open events. These events have a tendency to attract operators and teams that are more specialized in a particular aspect of the skill of contesting. For those competitions that fail to attract enough participants, they will ultimately be abandoned by their sponsor or sponsors, and subsequently new contest that are more centered in the evolving interest of amateur radio operators will be formed.
In a specialized competition in which there may only be a few amateur operators with the competent skill set to construct and operate the necessary equipment to participate, it may only take a few contacts just a few kilometers in distance to win the contest. With the more popular VHF competitions, a station that is adequately equipped and located in a densely populated area such as Central Europe it is possible to execute over 1,000 on two meters in a 24 hour period. In the CW World Wide DX Contests, which are, by far, the world’s largest HF competitions, the top multiple operating stations on phone and CW are capable executing up to 25,000 contacts over a 48 hour period. Even a single amateur operator manning world class stations in several rare geographical locations have been known to execute more than 10,000 contacts, averaging over 3 per minute, every minute. In 2000, there were more than 30,000 participants that took part in the CQ World Wide DX Contest. In that contest the highest scoring single operator station executed over 9,000 contact in a single competition.
Other HF contest may not be as grand in scale, and many specialized competitions, such as those for QRP enthusiasts, can attract no more than 30 or more competitors.
The geographical location of a station has the immense potential to impact the station performance in a number of ways as it pertains to Ham Radio Competitions. The radio stations proximity to an intensely populated area has a powerful impact during a contest. In almost every instance in amateur radio contesting, the closer a station is to a major population center, the better it performs. The rarity of the location is of great importance as well; because the scoring formula developed in the majority of these competitions uses the number of different locations contacted as a multiplier. During competitions contacts with radio stations that are located in rare locations are in high demand. In VHF and higher frequency band competitions, those that have stations in higher altitudes with an unobstructed line of sight in each direction are at a enormous advantage. With normal station range limited to approximately 1,000 kilometers under normal radio propagation conditions, locations that are on high ground near a large population center are also considered prime locations in VHF competitions. In the larger world wide HF and DX competitions, stations that are located in the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, close to Europe and Eastern North America, with an immensely high density of active contest radio stations, normally are the winners. Some of the most impressive contesting victories in the large international competitions have been seen in places like Trinidad and Tobago, Morocco, Madeira Island, The Cape Verde Islands, Aruba, Curacao. When there are competitions between stations in large countries such as Canada, The US, or Russia, the competition can be immensely impacted by the geographical location of each participating station. Because of these particular types of variations, most stations may choose to specialize in only competitions in which they are not at a geographical disadvantage. If they do chose to enter competitions in which they are at a considerable disadvantage because of their geographical location, they may also choose to measure or gauge themselves against those that are nearby rivals.
There are a large number of competitors that are content with participating in contest from home, many times with relatively minimal output and basic antennas. Many of these operators that operate from modest homebound stations are operative with the competitive mindset of placing their station in the competition while others or participating to simply give away their points to more serious stations, or maybe they are in pursuit of some unique propagation. The more serious competitors will spend exorbitant sums of money to invest in the development of their stations. With the latter of these groups, being able to compete at an extremely high level is the goal. To them the primary goal is to win the competition. Some of these extraordinary stations will be built at home while others may be perched somewhere on a mountain top in a rare location. When operators don’t have the financial resources to build elite radio stations, they will develop relationships with the competitors that do and they will guess operate during competitions, to be a part of the experience. Contesting is commonly combined with a DS-expedition, in which the competitor will travel to an area in which radio activity in uncommon and infrequent.
There are several competitions that are design to encourage competitors to operate outdoors, and are known as field days. The motivation and interest in these events is to promote the readiness of radio operator to be prepared to function in the case of an emergency of disaster. There is more focus on readiness than winning in these type of competitions and many operators simply get enjoyment out of operating in the most primitive of situations, functioning with the minimum. The competitions rules for field day competitions normal require or strongly encourage (through some sort of incentive) that participating stations use generators or battery power along with temporary antennas. This has the potential for creating a more level playing field, as all stations are similar in construction.
A Typical Contest Exchange
Normally, contacts made between stations in contest are usually very brief, just long enough to exchange the necessary information and move on to the next attempt. The following is a typical exchange between two stations on voice transmission:
[Station 1 - CQ contest Mike Two Whiskey, Mike Two Whiskey, contest.
(Station M2W is soliciting a contact in the contest)
Station 2 - Zulu Lima Six Quebec Hotel
(The station that is calling, ZL6QH, has to give only his call sign. At this point, there is nothing further in the way of information needed to complete the communication transaction] Station 1 - ZL6QH 59 14 (said as “five nine one four”).
(M2W confirms the ZL6QH call sign, sends a signal report of 59, and is in Zone 14 (Western Europe).)
Station 2 - Thanks 59 32 (said as “five nine three two”).
(ZL6QH confirms reception of M2W’s exchange, sends a signal report of 59, and is in Zone 32 (South Pacific).)
Station 1 - Thanks Mike Two Whiskey
(M2W confirms ZL6QH’s exchange, is now listening for new stations.)
In Morse code transmissions, well known and suitable abbreviations are allowed in order to keep the contacts between stations as brief as possible. Those that are truly skilled operators are able to keep a steady rate of four contacts per minute on Morse code, or up to a maximum of 10 contacts per minute on voice transmissions during optimal propagation periods, and using the short format. Obviously, the maximum rate of contacts that can be made in those contests that require longer exchanges between stations to procure more information will be significantly lower.
Logs and Log Checking
For the most part, the more serious competitive stations use logging software to complete their logs, although there are a few that still use the old fashioned method of paper and pencil. The numerous logging software packages that are designed specifically for radio contesting. These software packages or programs are normally capable of handling numerous duties outside of the framework of simply logging information on the stations log. These programs are capable of keeping a live running score of the competition based on the parameters of the scoring rules. They can also track multipliers to see which ones have already been worked and those that have not yet been worked. These programs also have the capability to provide operators with visual clues as to the number of contacts that are being made on any particular band. Some of these software packages are so sophisticated that they can actually help the operator manage the radio station equipment via computer program. They can retrieve certain data from the radio and send a pre-recorded Morse code, digital or voice message. After a competition has ended, each station must submit their log to the sponsor of the contest. There a multitudinous ways that logs can be submitted. A large majority of sponsors will allow logs to be submitted via email, by website upload, or the old fashion way of postal mail.
When all of the logs from the participating stations have been received by the sponsor, the logs undergo a process that is known in the industry as “cross-checking”. During the “cross checking” process, the sponsor will cross reference the information on the log and look for discrepancies, errors and omissions. In most cases, contest sponsors impose stiff penalties in the way of point deductions for logs that have errors and inaccuracies. What this means is that during the competition the operator must be able temper the need for speed with the requirement for accuracy. It is not an uncommon occurrence for a station to be leading at the close of a particular competition but ultimate slip out of first place because of errors and discrepancies on their log, and the subsequent point deductions that follow. Some sponsors provide customer cross referencing reports to the contestants which explain to participating stations in detail what errors were found and how penalties were assessed.
Results and Awards
The majority of amateur radio contesting events are sponsored by organizations or societies that either publish some form or a membership journal, or sell magazines that cater to the interests of radio enthusiast as their primary business. The results of these competitions are subsequently printed in the publications associated with the sponsor of the event. The event results are normally accompanied by an article that describes the event and highlights the winners. The event results article can also include certain photos of radio stations and their operators as they participated in the competition. There will most times be a comprehensive listing of the scores and details of the competition. In addition to the common practice of publishing the results of contests in journals and magazines, many sponsors also make the effort to publish the details and results of competitions on websites; normally in a format of that is found in print publications. There are sponsors that present the raw score data in a readable and searchable format allowing the information to be searched or used for other analytical purposes. For instance, the American Radio Relay League, offers this sort of raw line score data to all of its members as well as offering a summary of the report of the winners and certain line score data in a non-searchable format through their website.
The fact that these competitions take place using amateur radio it places the operators in a position in which they are not able to receive financial remuneration for their participation. This means that sponsors have to find other ways in which to reward the participants. This is an international regulatory restriction that precludes and transcends the subsequent development of any professional sport through the medium of amateur radio. In addition to receiving the recognition of their peers (Which is one of the highest accolades one is able to receive), there are other rewards that the winners of these contests do get to receive, such as paper certificates, wooden plaques, trophies, engraved gavels, and even medals that acknowledge their achievements. There are a number of contests that provide trophies of minimal value that serve to highlight their local agricultural or cultural heritage. Once such trophy is the Smoked Salmon, which is awarded to the winner of the Washington State Salmon Run contest) or the Bottle of Wine, which is given to the winner of the California QSO Party.