Learning to copy behind in CW code: .....(11/10/2001)


All the good CW operators agree that in learning good CW, you need to learn to copy behind.

The problem however is that very few will tell you how. Well, here's how you can learn to do it, with some methods I learned years ago from a 70 year old French CW teacher, and hopefully have been able to improve on those methods somewhat. You will either need someone to help you, or use a tape recorder. The great thing about these exercises is that you don't even have to worry about actual code during the process, and these 2 exercises are guaranteed to work for you as they have for a lot of other folks in the past.

First, you need to consider that certain motions, such as even staring with your writing utensil in the air and then dropping to the paper to write will take away from your speed of copy. In other words, start with your pen or pencil already on the paper! Secondly, there has always been a lot of discussion on whether printing or writing is faster. I contend that speed is not the issue here, that smooth and easy writing is more important for relaxed code copy, than herky-jerky attempts to "put it down fast". Any "normal writing speed" is more than adequate for the code speed requirement.

During these "writing exercises", the most important thing to consider, is that as you are writing the letters as they are given for a particular word, the speed you write is to allow each letter to "flow" into the next letter of that word. If your pen or pencil stops during a word, you are writing too fast!! Write almost painfully slow, so that each letter smoothly flows into the next letter of the word. Wait until the completion of a word before you dot any "i's", or cross any "t's".

Now, either with a tape recorder, or with someone to help you, find a magazine or a newspaper to read from. Read each letter evenly, at a rate of about 1 letter per second, and allowing a space of no sound between words of the same 1 second. When a punctuation mark of some kind comes up, always use one sound to identify it. A ? would be given as "question", never "question mark", which is two sounds.! A / would be given as "slash", and ( as "parenthesis", never as "left parenthesis". As slow as this all seems, it's actually about 12 words per minute! Also make a big list of three-letter words, like "pig, cow, dog, cat,…", and record them at 1 letter per second for exercise #2.

Now for the 2 exercises:

Exercise #1 - Copying one letter behind:

Start playing the recorded text, with your pen or pencil on the paper, wait until the second letter is given before you start writing. Now, as each letter is sounded out, you should be writing continuously behind so that you never catch up. Your first impulse will be to immediately try to catch up, and for each letter you copy, but this is a bad mistake. Take it nice and slow, and you will find that you can be very relaxed while copying behind with confidence.


Exercise #2 - Copying 3 letters behind:

As before, start playing the recorded text of the 3-letter words, with your pen on the paper, but this time wait until the second word is starting before you start writing your first word. Now, as you write each letter, your timing should be such that each letter you write should be in sync with that of the second word, so that you will finish the fist word as the second word has completed. Your first impulse will be to try to catch up, because after all, you are now a whole word behind. Don't!! Stay in sync, letter by letter, with the letters you are writing flowing from one to the other for that word. If your pen stops, because you caught up, you are writing too fast!


If you practice these 2 exercises, you will find that when you apply them later to copying code, it will be amazing how well you can begin copying code behind!


Dave - WA7RSO ........... CopyBehind.html, SfE-DCS, ddf 11/10/2001