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                             SETTING OPERATING GOALS
                      DON'T BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW!
            The topic this month is goal-setting. With January just  four 
        months  away, we should have already started to get our  stations 
        into  trim  for THE BIG ONE. One of the things we  should  decide 
        early on is how much can we achieve with what we have.
            Africa is home to the largest land-animal ecosystem on earth. 
        There are herbivores ranging in size from mice to elephants,  and 
        carnivores  to keep their populations in check. Small  cats  like 
        the  African  golden  cat prey on small  rodents,  rabbits,  etc. 
        Medium size game, like gazelles and smaller antelope fall prey to 
        medium size cats, like the leopard. Large animals, such as wilde-
    animals, such as wilde-
        beest,  zebras and buffalo are the favorite prey of  the  largest 
        African cat, the lion. Hunting in prides, they can even take  out 
        an occasional giraffe or young elephant.
            The  small  cats don't even try to take on large  prey;  they 
        simply cannot do it. The large cats avoid hunting small prey,  as 
        the energy put into the hunt exceeds the energy obtained from the 
        prey.  As  a  result, everyone coexists peacefully  in  the  same 
        ecosystem  with  little competition for the other  classes'  food 
        supply. But you ask, what does this have to do with VHF  contest-
            A complaint I often hear from 'small operation' contesters is 
        that they are discouraged because they can't turn in a score that 
        can compete with the 'big operations'. This has led some of these 
        small  stations  to  give up trying. This  is  very  unfortunate. 
        Instead,  each station needs to ASSES THEIR PERFORMANCE BASED  ON 
        OTHER  SIMILARLY-EQUIPPED  STATIONS, as operator  performance  is 
        usually  the single biggest variable being measured in  any  sta-
            We  need as many stations as possible on the air in any  con-
        test in order to make contesting work; regardless of the size  of 
        your  operation,  every QSO you make benefits both  YOU  and  the 
        STATION  YO
        STATION  YOU WORKED. This is how (and why) we do so well here  in 
        VHF contests.
            So,  set  your sights on competing with stations  similar  to 
        yours.  Talk to them, and set your goals based on how  well  they 
        do.  This will help prevent the discouragement that can occur  if 
        you  try to measure up to some big-gun station. 'Golden cats'  of 
        the  VHF contesting world: measure yourselves against  the  other 
        'golden cats'! The 'leopards' need to measure themselves  against 
        other 'leopards', and 'lions' against other 'lions'. Remember, it 
        took  years and years of work for the big-gun stations to get  to 
        where  they are. (The time element is far more constraining  than 
        the money one!) Don't try to take on the bigger stations'  'game' 
        until you find yourself equipped to do so.
            This  should not be construed as a discouragement to  station 
        development. Instead, it should impel you to develop your station 
        AT  A PACE YOU CAN DEAL WITH. Try, for instance, adding just  one 
        band  a  year.  Or improving just one antenna a  year.  You  will 
        generally  find VHF contesting more fun (and challenging) if  you 
        'grow  slowly'.  The one place where the 'great cats  of  Africa' 
        analogy breaks down is this: A golden cat is always a golden cat. 
        A  leopard is always a leopard is always a leopard. A lion is always a lion. But,  if 
        you start out with an 'golden cat' station and proceed carefully, 
        someday  you will find you have a 'lion' station! And,  you  will 
        have thoroughly enjoyed the process of getting there!
             Next month: 'pop-gun contesting'! REMEMBER! THE MOST  IMPOR-

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