In the wake of the recent decision to eliminate the Morse Code requirement, there have been several proposals to set up code-proficiency testing programs. I just got an e-mail today from our division director proposing a pilot project that VEs would be responsible for running in the communities they serve. And there has been some chatter on the Fists mailing list that Fists should set up its own code testing program.
My reaction. Who cares?
For one thing, the ARRL already has a Code Proficency Program. Those who really want to be able to brag about their code speed can already get a piece of paper to prove it.
Secondly, while a certificate may be a nice thing to hang on a wall, it is hardly proof that a ham is a good operator. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and for CW ops, the proof of their competence is in making contacts. Instead of encouraging people to pass a proficiency test and get a nice certificate, we should be encouraging them to get on the air and talk to one another.
Theoretically, the goal of these code proficiency programs is to encourage hams to become better CW ops. Do they? I doubt it. I think we’d all be better off if we used this energy to help new hams get on CW rather than pass some test. No proficiency program is going to help a new ham decide what paddle to buy or how to use Q-signals properly.
I don’t need a piece of paper to prove how good a CW op I am. Rather than point to a certificate on the wall, I’d rather point out the number of contacts I’ve logged or to the number of other hams I’ve helped get on CW. I think ham radio is better served by those activities than by participating in yet another code proficiency program.