The tower has a few practice rope tails that are loaned out to the current crop of new ringers. The new ringers practice a few things at home, to maximize ringing time during class:
- Keeping tension in the rope
- The up and down knots
- Crawling up and down the tail
The “keeping tension” exercise is done with eyes closed and a partner who moves his/her end of the rope without warning; the new ringer’s task is to keep that gentle but constant level of tension, all the time, while the rope is moving.
At each class, new ringers are put on the spot to identify up and down knots correctly on the tower’s ropes, untie a knot and safely test whether that bell is up or down, and then tie the correct knot in its rope. The tower also has a few knot samples for loan so a ringer can practice tying a knot at home, then compare against the known correct knot.
The crawling exercise is done first with each hand alone, then both hands together, up and down the rope tail; slowly at first until a smooth motion is established, then gradually faster, and repeated until it can be done without looking or thinking. The crawling motion is taught in class, with the thumb and fingers shifting up or down the tail while keeping a grasp on it, then practiced at home and checked in subsequent classes.
When the current new ringers no longer need the loaners, they’ll return them to the tower to pass on to the next generation of new ringers.