[CQ-Contest] SS exchange

k4ro at music-city.tdec.state.tn.us k4ro at music-city.tdec.state.tn.us
Mon Nov 10 18:08:04 EST 1997

> Well, it becomes obvious after a few hundred QSOs that about 30-40% of the
> people you're working can't really copy CW at the speed you're sending;
> they're getting your exchange only because you keep repeating it to everyone
> else you've worked.  Ask them a question, and they're lost.

Well that describes me to a tee just a few years ago.  CW has never been
easy for me.  I was a General Class for something like 10 years because
I just couldn't hack CW.  Then I started DXing, and quickly realized
that CW would help a lot there.  Pretty soon the 20WPM test was within
reach, simply from practice.  But I still didn't like CW, and could not 
converse comfortably above about 15 WPM.  It was always a struggle, yet
I always secretly wished I could somehow really know the code someday.

Then came contesting.  I stared in 1994 on the CQ 160m CW contest.
The pace was managable, and that was when I discovered the joy of radio
contesting.  Sometimes I'd listen to folks send their exchange for 5-10 
QSOs before I answered them.  I was lost if anyone asked me a question 
at 25 WPM.  I did not know the code very well at all.

Now a few years later I can answer questions at 25 WPM, maybe even 35.
I can converse at 30-33 wpm and actually enjoy it, instead of struggling
to keep up.  I've got a long way to go, but I'm starting to know the code,
and even take a real liking to it.  An old dog can learn new tricks.

But if it weren't for those first several contests, and my stumbling 
all over the paddles trying to make QSOs with the seasoned CW vets, I
would have never "gotten it."  Now I've got it and I want more.  That's
why I try to operate the CW Sprints and other contests -- because it's
clear that with practice comes improvement.  When I work someone who is
obviously struggling with CW, I remember that we are not all born with
the "effortless CW" gene.  I suspect many great ops got great at CW just
through lots of practice.  I sure hope so, because that's my plan.  I sure
wasn't born with the ability.

-Kirk  K4RO

CQ-Contest on WWW:        http://www.contesting.com/_cq-contest/
Administrative requests:  cq-contest-REQUEST at contesting.com

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list