Why Should I Care About Ham Radio?

This is a guest post by Andrew Bettsham radio

We often think about home defense in terms of guns, bullets, and fighting but the probability of actually being in a firefight in your home is incredibly remote. What is far more likely, to the point of being almost certain, is that there will be power outages, storms, maybe even an extended period without services. It is not at all uncommon for the power to go out for a few days at a time in some areas.

With the world in turmoil as it is, periods of civil disorder are also looking more probable every day. You don’t defend your home from these events by shooting them in the face. You keep your family safe by having fire extinguishers, first aid kits, lights, food, water, and emergency communication.

If the lights go out, the cell towers and backup generators for ISPs are not far behind. You need to be able to get information about weather conditions and updates on the situation as well as to be able to communicate with your family and friends, especially if they are not all at home when things go south.

Having a small, handheld ham radio gives you options that the little blister pack FRS radios from Walmart just can’t do. Yes, ham radios can be a great deal more powerful, but it is their versatility and adaptability that make them more useful.

It is true that the hobby of ham radio can get expensive, just like the hobby of firearms can get expensive, but the bar to entry is much lower than it has been in the past. You can buy a very effective hand held 5 watt UHF/VHF radio for about $30 on Amazon.

It is also true that you have to take a test to legally transmit with a ham radio, but you no longer need to learn Morse code. The test is easy to pass, especially with the free study guides and practice exams available. The practice exams even give you the exact actual questions and answers from the real test. The FCC actually publishes the entire question pool (about 250 possible questions). The test is easier than a driver’s exam.

Just as with firearms or any other skill, the equipment you choose matters, but it is your own skill that makes the real difference. If you want to be effective in an emergency, you have to get the experience right now.


Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan. Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.

Photo Credit – Venglin @Wikipedia


  1. Kind of right. Most of the $30 radios are designed for use in the bands authorized with a “technician” license, the entry class FCC license in the US. They depend on being able to connect to local *repeaters*, which are designed to rebroadcast the transmission that they receive from a lower powered radio. These repeaters are usually higher power radios with antennas on high towers or buildings to increase the range, which is line of sight in most of the frequency bands allocated to these radios.

    Consider instead going for the next level of radio privilege which is called the “general class” license. That class allows operations on more bands with worldwide reach and more powerful radios (albeit more expensive).

    • Let’s get’em started one class at a time!

      • Jack McComb says:

        Amen Roger!

        Lets not scare the potential new Amateur Radio Operators away by making them believe they have to earn a General Class License when over 50% of the licensed amateurs hold Technician Licensed. There are plenty of repeaters with many having generator back-up power. When a disaster occurs a great number of portable stations begin operating to support the communications needs of the disaster personnel. The vast majority of this traffic is on VHF/UHF frequencies which Technicians are authorized to use.

        It is a fun hobby, so let us not discourage folks from joining us.

    • Robert McClymont says:

      A handheld radio can also be used in simplex mode, good for 5-10 miles. Great way to start into the hobby.

      • Where can I get a class,test in 14075 zip. NY. I talked to some people with radios in cars/homes. They say High frequency, is used around me.I was told i can get a Yaesu 400 series or 700 series cheap and it would be good for starting for home or a vehicle. So I would need information on that. So any information you give me would be appreciated..

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