I’m a few weeks into the CWOps Basic Course and, with some experience and time under my belt, felt it was time to post an update on how things are going.

First off, the course is not a traditional type of class. Students are expected (and rightly so I believe) to drive their own progress via daily practice routines that are laid out simply and in a highly consumable manner. (read: if I can follow it, you can too)

The focus starts on Instant Character Recognition (ICR), where in a half second or less your brain associates the character with the CW being received. This would be similar to someone holding up a card with a random letter or number on it and your brain instantly knowing which one it is visually. If you’re reading this, you’re already doing that with the alphabet and what you see on this screen.

There are tools and exercises along the way to train your brain to pick out the sounds quicker and quicker each week. More complex activities are then introduced as words and phrases are built out and expanded.

There are two sessions each week with an advisor, who provides guidance and inputs along the way. They assess each student’s progress at regular checkpoints, and will point out errors.

So how is it going?

Well, I am surprised (pleasantly so) how fast I am actually progressing. I started off my CW journey earlier this year doing a lot of repetitive learning of characters on my own, using apps like Morse Mania and listening to audio files developed by Morse Code Ninja (seriously give that guy a donation – his work is phenomenal). That gave me a solid foundation for the Basic Course that I’m in now. I’m seeing definite improvements in recognition of my problem characters that plagued me for weeks prior. I can follow QSOs more easily now, and my fear of getting on the air has lessened quite a bit. This at a little less than halfway through the course.

The group is fantastic. We all are progressing and struggling in different areas, but we take the time to work together via Discord video chats to push each other along.

I highly recommend this to anyone looking to learn or significantly improve their CW abilities. The coursework is well planned, the advisor has been amazing, and it is exactly what I needed.