My son is 21. He finally was allowed to start sitting in qualifiers last Thursday. I started teaching him theory two years ago next month. His hand speed is incredibly slow, which I'm so proud of. He has lots and lots of growing room, and he knows it. He takes the RPR in a couple weeks and hopefully the CA CSR soon after that. He's still lacking some academics, so we'll see.
I was just like a lot of the reporters in your area, not knowing what NCRA was all about for way too many years. My son was able to meet the best writers in the country last summer at the NCRA convention. They were all so incredibly nice to him, and I believe he is aspiring to be one of them. Of course now he thinks I'm chopped liver, but that's okay. :)
I like to practice 15 to 30 minutes three times a week before I go to work. I just do it to warm up and stay loose. However, I am considering entering the speed contest in 2009, so I'm probably going to step up the practicing to five days a week. By next year, I'm sure my scopist is going to get more of my work to accomodate my practice schedule.
To be honest I consider working in the field my practice. When I was first out of school I used to worry about being "warmed up" before I started a job. The truth is as you work more and perfect your skills you won't need any warm up time.