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.
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.
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