CWops # 1869, from Marrietta , GA , USA.
Greetings from Georgia—the Peach State.
I received my Novice ticket WN6RFR in 1961 just before I left for college. CW was a struggle for me. I didn’t believe I could ever achieve 13wpm for the General so when the Novice ticket expired, I applied for a Technician class that I held through college and into my early adult years. A few years later, I managed to get to 13 wpm for General and Advanced but quickly dropped use of CW. Several job relocations gave me WB5OOZ and KE4RQ. Then career and family intervened, and ham radio was put on the back burner for about 20 years.
In 2006, my bride Tricia and I spent a day at Dayton on the way to visit family in PA. What a life changer. I was introduced to two aspects of ham radio that I enjoy today: DXing and QRP. I had been inactive for so long that it took me a while to determine that to be effective in both I needed to learn CW afresh and anew. Using the K7QO code course, I committed to daily practice of re-learning the code. After a few months of practice, I had my first DX CW contact and was hooked: there is something magical hearing one’s call come back through the cacophony of other stations. Since that first contact, I have reached 300 DXCC on CW using 100w to a wire in the trees and 163 QRP DXCC. I never thought I’d do this well.
In 2015, two operators in the local North Georgian QRP (NOGA QRP) club suggested CWOPS as a way to become more proficient in CW. Looking at the website and the standard of 25 wpm, I said to myself, “Self—there is no way you can reach this unless you really try.” In 2015, I successfully completed CW Academy Level II and passed copying a QSO at 20 wpm. This meant that the Extra Class ticket I now hold was no longer a “No Code” ticket for me. Learning to “drop the pencil and listen” as promoted by my CW Academy instructor Joe N3HEE was a new habit hard to form but so necessary.
Vaden NN4K is in NOGA QRP and encouraged me (as did Joe N3HEE) to participate in weekly CWT. The first few times it was so daunting. It was so hard to copy the calls at the speeds I heard, but with each CWT, it became a little easier. I still have a long way to go to copy at the speed I hear so many CWOPs members use, and, at age 74, I don’t know how fast I will be able to achieve. Since that Dayton 2006 exposure to CW/DX/QRP where I got infected with the CW bug, I continue to press the envelope forward. As I write this, I’m learning about contesting skills. My interest is not to win any award but simple to become a more proficient CW operator and have a lot of fun doing it.
My QRZ page keeps track of the few awards I have pursued. It also identifies my other interests as a Bible teacher, building model railroads and handcrafting QRP rigs. Quite a variety of interests! Hope to make contact with many CWOPs members in the years ahead.