North Carolina to Host 2013 USA ARDF Championships
The Uwharrie Mountains of North Carolina will provide the locale for the 13th USA Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) Championships of on-foot hidden transmitter hunting. Fans of this international sport, also known as “foxtailing” or “radio-orienteering,” are making travels plans now. Backwoods Orienteering Klub (BOK) will host the event, which will be held October 8-13. This year’s USA Championships are being combined with the Seventh ARDF Championships of International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 2 (the Americas).
On October 9 are optional practice sessions on 2 meters and 80 meters. October 10 brings model events of two activities introduced last year — sprints and foxoring — followed that afternoon by the championship foxoring event. The sprint championship event takes place on October 11.
Classic transmitter hunting championship competition is held Saturday and Sunday, October 12 and 13. Transmitters will be on 2 meters and 80 meters the afternoon of October 11 for last-minute practice and equipment testing, with a procedures and safety briefing afterward.
Saturday morning will be the full-course 2 meter main event, followed in the evening by the banquet and awards presentation. The full-course 80 meter main event takes place Sunday morning, with awards presented afterwards.
Organizing and Course Setting
Organizing the 2013 USA Championships are Joseph Huberman, K5JGH, and Ruth Bromer, WB4QZG — both previous USA Championships competitors and medal winners on 2 and 80 meters. (Ruth and her teammate Karla Leach, KC7BLA, won team medals in their category at the 2010 ARDF World Championships in Croatia and in the 2012 ARDF World Championships in Serbia.)
Setting the courses will be Nadia Scharlau, with radio support from Charles Scharlau, NZØI. Nadia learned ARDF as a youth in the Soviet Union and won her first gold medal by competing for USSR at the European Championships in 1984. Charles discovered ARDF in the Puget Sound area of Washington and competed in the national Championships for the first time in 2001. Both have represented the US at the World ARDF Championships four times in the past decade, and in 2006 in Bulgaria, Nadia became the first Team USA member to win a World Championships medal.
How It Works/Who Can Play
In the classic ARDF championships, competitors start in small groups made up of different age/gender categories. As they seek the hidden transmitters, they navigate through the forest from the starting corridor to the finish line — a distance of 4 to 10 kilometers. They plot their direction-finding bearings on orienteering maps that show terrain features, elevation contours, and vegetation type.
The USA ARDF Championships are open to anyone who can safely navigate the woods. A ham radio license is not required. Each participant competes as an individual, and any teamwork or GPS use are forbidden. Competitors bring their own direction-finding gear to the events, although extra gear is sometimes available for loan from other attendees. Competitors may not transmit on the course, except in emergencies.
The USA ARDF Championships are an ideal opportunity to watch and learn from the best radio-orienteers in the US and from around the world. Canada has a growing ARDF movement and is expected to compete for the IARU Region 2 medals. Visitors also are expected from China, Germany, Sweden and Ukraine. Stateside winners of these championships will be considered for membership in ARDF Team USA, which will travel to the mountains of Kazakhstan for the 17th ARDF World Championships in September 2014.
Registration is now open, and an online entry form, detailed schedules, frequencies, lodging information and registration forms are on the BOK website. Competitors can avoid late fees by signing up no later than September 15. An e-mail reflector is available for Q&A with the organizers as well as for coordinating transportation and arranging equipment loans.
Basic information on international-style transmitter hunting is on the Homing In website, including rules and signal parameters. The site includes equipment ideas for 2 meters and 80 meters, plus photos from previous championships. Information about the Amateur Radio Direction Finding Fund is on the ARRL website. — Joe Moell, KØOV, ARRL Amateur Radio Direction Finding Coordinator