So you say you're not into the "Big Gun" contests; because as a QRPer, you feel like a fish out of water. What's a QRPer to do?
Fortunately, there are a bunch of operating events (contests, if you will) that were designed just with you in mind. Some of these are annual events, some are monthly, some are seasonal. Here are some good ones that I can think of right off the top of my head:
Monthly ARS Spartan Sprint - this occurs on the first Monday of every month - this is a two hour sprint that runs from 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern time (you can do the math for your time zone). Sponsored by the Adventure Radio Society, there are two divisions - the Tubby and Skinny Divisions. The divisions are determined by the weight of the equipment you are using. The goal is to use as small and light and portable a station as you can manage - although that's not a requirement to participate. Information about these Sprints can be found here.
Flying Pigs Run For the Bacon - this sprint occurs on the third Sunday of every month. Another two hour sprint that again, runs from 9:00 to 11:00 PM Eastern time. This is a very friendly, low pressure sprint where slow speed coders are welcome. You don't need to be a member of the Flying Pigs to participate; but it's fun to have a Piggie number to exchange instead of just the "standard" 5W designation. Besides, it's free to join - the club's motto? "No dues, no rules, just have fun!" Further information can be found here.
NAQCC Monthly Sprint - these sprints are rapidly gaining in popularity. The North American QRP CW Club was founded by Tom Mitchell WY3H and John Shannon K3WWP. They recently just held their 100th sprint since the club was founded and close to 200 logs were submitted after all was said and done. That amount of logs has to rival even the bigger QRP ARCI contests, I'll wager. You have to pay attention to the days on these sprints however, because they alternate monthly between Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. And the contest time is a bit different also - 8:30 to 10:30 Easter time. Membership in the NAQCC is also free and more info can be yours, here.
Of course the QRP Amateur Radio Club International sponsors a whole bunch of contests and sprints throughout the year. There are Spring and Fall QSO Parties and events such as the Hoot Owl Sprint, QRP Field Day, the HF Grid Square Sprint, Fireside Sprint, etc. QRP ARCI is a fine organization and they publish a tremendous magazine called "QRP Quarterly". More information about these operating events can be found here.
Then there are also the seasonal, primarily outdoor sprints such as the recently completed Freeze Your Buns Off, and others such as QRP To The Field, QRP Afield, Flight of the Bumblebees, (and my favorite) the NJQRP Skeeter Hunt. You can Google any of those for further information.
The NJQRP Skeeter Hunt will be held again this August. The sprint will be have an SSB category for 2013, so those of you who are not into CW can also join in on the fun. There will be a theme and bonus points awarded for home brewing something specifically for the event; but those details haven't been ironed out yet. A general contest announcement will be made near the beginning of May, and Skeeter numbers can be applied for as of May 1st.
Lastly, there are also "miscellaneous" indoor QRP operating events that are held each year, that are not sponsored by major clubs. The one that comes to mind immediately, for example, is the Zombie Shuffle which is run by Paul Hardin NA5N and his wife Jan N0QT. This is usually held the weekend before Halloween and is a ton of fun.
There are also the Winter and Summer QRP Fox hunts. If you like the thrill of navigating your way through a QRP pile up, then these are for you. The Winter season runs from November to March. There are two hunts each week, usually on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. One is on 80 Meters and the other is on 40 Meters. During the Summer, the hunts are on 20 Meters and past practice is that they have been held on Thursday evenings. Details here.
If you want to build up your log totals, hone your operating skills and have a ton of fun in the process, take some time to investigate what I've mentioned here. If you've never tried any of these before, get your feet wet and join in. You'll be an Old Pro in no time!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!