A Different Kind of QRM

I did a brief Parks on the Air (POTA) activation today. My destination was Pennsylvania State Game Lands 043 (K-8742) in Elverson, PA. While it was successful, I ran into something I hadn’t encountered before: loud gunfire.

Before heading out, I took a look at the area using Google Earth. I found a public shooting range in the Game Lands with a large parking lot. It looked like an easy place to set up. As it turns out, it was not without some challenges.

Pennsylvania State Game Lands 043 (POTA K-8742) entrance
Pennsylvania State Game Lands 043 (POTA K-8742) entrance

When I got there, the parking lot was bustling with shooters out for some target practice. I parked away from the shooting range and set up my antenna on the truck. My rig was my trusty KX3 at 5 watts running CW.

The cell coverage wasn’t great, but I managed to spot myself on 40M. Almost immediately, I got a call from WA8ERJ, who gave me a park-to-park contact. I had a bit of a pile-up and logged ten contacts in the first twelve minutes. I logged a park-to-park contact with K8DRT before changing bands.

My setup in the public shooting range parking lot in Pennsylvania State Game Lands 043
My setup in the public shooting range parking lot in Pennsylvania State Game Lands 043

Up on the 20M band, the activity was somewhat sparse, and there was some noise from nearby powerlines. I managed to log two contacts before moving down to 30M. The 30M band was more productive, producing eight more for the log. 

The whole time I was operating, there was quite a bit of audio frequency QRM from the shooting range. My earbuds don’t provide much sound isolation. For the most part, though, the noise was intermittent and manageable. When necessary, I turned the volume up on the rig and rolled up the window.

The last contact was a bit difficult. The signal was weak and hard to hear over the noise from the range. He had to repeat his callsign five or six times before I got the whole thing. My apologies to that operator.

After an hour, I packed up and headed home. I ended up with 22 contacts, including the two park-to-park QSOs. Also, K9IS worked me on both 40M and 30M from Wisconsin. 

According to the POTA website, I was only the second person to activate this entity. It was also the first time I had to deal with loud gunfire during an activation. Of course, I was the one who picked this location. I should have anticipated the noise and brought some over-the-ear headphones.

On the drive out, I found another parking area further down the road from the shooting range. Next time, I’ll give that a shot—no pun intended.

73, Craig WB3GCK

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