Less than two hours into the American Radio Relay League’s annual Field Day Saturday, members of the Brownwood Amateur Radio Club were enjoying a fast start to the 24-hour race to log the most contacts with other “hams” in the United States and Canada.

Spokesman Ray Schulze said local hams are taking shifts manning the mobile radio equipment from 1 p.m. Saturday until 1 p.m. today as members of other clubs throughout the continent do the same.

Points are awarded for the number of contacts as well as the type of equipment used to talk to them. As each contact is made, call signs and information about their physical location are exchanged and charted.

By early afternoon, the radio operators had talked to other hams from elsewhere in Texas and a half-dozen other states, including Tennessee, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana and Iowa.

“We certainly do appreciate the folks at the National Guard Armory allowing us to be here,” Schulze said. “They’ve been very nice to work with.”

The hams have their tables with a variety of transmitters, receivers and antennas placed toward the rear of the open area of the armory. The public is invited to visit and watch what is happening.

“Field Day is a way for hams to test and improve amateur-radio operators’ emergency communication skills,” Schulze said.

The Brownwood Amateur Radio Club are using generators and battery power to simulate operation in a remote area and in emergency conditions, and set up antennas in the field.

The challenge is to put together a self-sufficient, working radio station quickly and begin making contacts with other radio operators, Schulze said.

The ARRL Field Organization has been effective in establishing emergency communications nets during floods, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, terrorist attacks and other major disasters — whether they be local, regional or national in scope, Schulze said. The league estimates that more than 35,000 hams participate in Field Day every year.