Can you copy 20 WPM?

Can you copy at 20 words per minute by hand?

By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
About a month ago, this email from the ARRL was send to the CWOps mailing list:
From: Fusaro, Norm W3IZ []
Sent: Monday, July 1, 2019 4:00 PM
Subject: W1AW Code Proficiency Certificate
Greetings Morse Code Enthusiasts.
I have some exciting news that I want to share with you! The ARRL has reinvigorated the W1AW Code Proficiency Certificate program. Several things have changed beginning with our new sponsor, Vibroplex, a legend in Morse telegraphy equipment. If you see Scott Robbins W4PA and the Vibroplex team at a hamfest or convention please be sure to thank him for his support. The Vibroplex logo will appear on the newly designed certificates (see below) and in the award recipient page that will appear every month in QST.
That’s right, each month in QST we will publish the most recent recipients of the W1AW Code Proficiency Certificate, beginning with all the 2019 recipients. As a bonus, we are sending all the 2019 CPC holders a new certificate at no cost to replace their older style award.
The award is available to anyone who copies one solid minute of code during the qualifying runs. Complete program details can be found on the web at
And to make the award available to more people we will double the number of opportunities to copy the CW text. Beginning September 2019, the qualifying runs will increase from twice per week to four times per week.
I am sharing this advanced notice with the Morse code clubs so that you can share it with your members. I have attached PDF files of the new certificate and the announcement that will appear in August QST, available in digital format July 8. I hope you are as excited about this as I am.
In closing, I want personally thank all of you who promote the use and proficiency of Morse code on the air waves and ask that you challenge your club members to submit their copy for the W1AW Code Proficiency Certificate.
Norm Fusaro, W3IZ
Director of Operations
Almost immediately after I posted this to my blog (at KB6NU.Com), my friend, Paul, KW1L, replied, “How does one copy legibly at 40 wpm?” When I replied, “Typing,” he countered, “On page 98 of the July 2019 QST, it says, ‘Legibly copy at least 1 minute of text by HAND…’”
To this, I replied, “Well, I guess you and I are both screwed then. I can’t copy by hand at 20 wpm, and it’s really not worth it to me to practice and get that fast. I’m guessing that I’m not alone in this regard. The upshot is that the ARRL is going to be sending out a lot fewer of these Vibroplex certificates than they think.”

I then emailed W3IZ for a clarification. He shot back, “By hand is to mean not using a code reading machine.” I suggested that he clarify this, both on the ARRL website and in QST. Of course, they haven’t yet taken my suggestion, and the website still reads, “Copy one of W1AW’s qualifying runs and submit one minute of solid copy (legible).”

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, is the author of the KB6NU amateur radio blog (KB6NU.Com), the “No Nonsense” amateur radio license study guides (KB6NU.Com/study-guides/), and is one of the presenters the ICQPodcast (ICQPodcast.Com). Feel free to reply to his CW CQs at any speed you so choose.

NOTE: You can find an image of the new certificate at×597.jpg