*EDITORIAL* Search & Pounce Ops

Almost certainly, success in DX contests on any band (including the world’s greatest DX band — 11m) is determined by a number of variables…

In any one event, most OMs identify these as being…

  1. The quality of propagation/conditions/skip
  2. The superiority of one’s station (e.g. Transceiver, antenna, DXcessories, etc.); and
  3. The number, time commitment and class of the participants.


A growing number of Contesters in our Dx Adventure Radio Club (DA-RC), however, take into account one of the most crucial elements and that’s a participant’s ‘contest tactics’.

In the world of radio sports (e.g. Contesting), ‘Search & Pounce’ ops is one such tactic and — based on the log entries of operators around the world in some of the major DX contests — it’s one that’s growing increasingly popular at the bottom of the solar cycle.

Known as ‘prowling’ in some circles, ‘Search & Pounce’ implies tuning around the band/s and listening for stations who are calling “CQ” —  and then calling them back to hopefully establish a contact.

The consensus amongst DA-RC members (Hams in the DA-RC & 11m) is that ‘prowling’ a band for a station you need/want to work, and then pouncing into a gap when you can, is an effective contest strategy indeed.

In fact, many DA-RCies regard it as the leisureliest way of operating (armchair contesting) as you can take your time to copy the callsign, if necessary, without any stress.

Contesters might also use ‘Search & Pounce’ to target multipliers and so balance up their log and/or if no one is answering their ‘running’.

Evidence suggests that another positive of ‘Search & Pounce’ ops is that it’s a worthwhile strategy for ‘small pistols’ (as opposed to ‘big guns’).


The only perceivable drawback of ‘Search & Pounce’, from where I sit in the radio shack, is that time spent waiting for a gap in calls, or rotating the VFO to locate desirable DX, could cost you valuable points.

To negate this, when using the ‘Search & Pounce’ strategy, you need to be adept at breaking through a pileup.

You’ll also need to decide how much time you’ll dictate to calling one particular station if he’s inundated by calls or a low signal.

Call him unsuccessfully for too long and you’re missing out on valuable points by ‘S & P’ and ‘running’ elsewhere.

If the DX station is ‘running’ then you do have the option of continuing your ‘prowl’ and coming back later to the QRG to work him.

Whichever the case, ‘Search & Pounce’ ops is a valuable card up the sleeve for any serious radio sportsman.

Use it with success and you not only nab yourself some exciting stations/multipliers/DX; but also achieve your potential in any given contest.