I'm a new ham, age 37, name is Ben. Passed my element 2 and 3 together in May, then set up my first HF rig in June. I figured I'd never have any interest in CW. And now here I am, crazy fool, getting jealous of how all these CW conversations are just cutting through QRN that would make SSB impossible. I want some of that! (I'd also like to build a pocket-sized CW rig kit someday too...)
So now I'm studying for my element 4 and learning CW on the side, using Gordon West's CDs and practicing my copying with a Mac application. I think Gordo's using 'koch' method -- adding 1 letter at a time -- and I'm up to 10 letters now.
Anyway, I'm wondering why I see so much advice about newbies starting out with straight keys. Looking around, it seems like paddles are absolutely ubiquitous and the norm for most CW'ers. Is there any reason I shouldn't start with a paddle? (My IC-7200 has a built-in electronic keyer already.)
I've heard stories that it's good to start with a straight key to "teach your fist a solid rhythm", and hey, I'm a bluegrass banjo player -- I know I've got rhythm! :-) But it seems sort of a like a waste of time to learn a straight key if I'm going to inevitably end up with a paddle anyway. Why not just go with the paddle from the start?
I suspect I'm opening up a big religious debate here, but I'd love to hear some opinions from the elmers out there...