Starting in the wonderful hobby of Amateur or HAM Radio can be daunting and challenging but can be very rewarding. Every week I look at a different aspect of the hobby, how you might fit in and get the very best from the 1000 hobbies that Amateur Radio represents. Note that this podcast started in 2011 as "What use is an F-call?".
There is a persistent perception among a small part of the amateur community that you need to build, buy or use antennas with a perfect 1:1 SWR to get the best results. Sometimes a contest erupts with who can get the lowest SWR.
Without getting technical, since that could take hours and you have better things to do. A 50 Ohm dummy load has a perfect SWR of 1:1 and you should already know that a proper dummy load doesn't radiate, so while it has a perfect SWR it's not a perfect antenna.
If your SWR meter reads 1.5:1, you're losing 3% of your signal, at 2:1 it's 11%, so just because the SWR is 2, doesn't mean you've got a dud antenna.
Now I should point out that this can be a particularly dense topic if you get into the finer detail and if you do a search for "Understanding SWR by Example", you'll come across a delightful and very detailed document written by Darrin K5DVW and published in QST magazine that goes into pictures, graphs and explanations and also discusses ladder line.
So, you can now stop hunting for the perfect 1:1 SWR and learn what your SWR meter is telling you.