Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Do You Practice Your Scuba Diver's Skills To Keep Them Sharp?
No law requires that scuba divers become skillful at the sport of diving.
Once a diver gets that basic level open water certification nothing says you need any further training for the rest of your life.
No professional dive operation will fill your scuba tank without seeing your certification card. At the same time no dive operation expects to see certification levels beyond the first training stage of scuba.
So why should you bother to get more training, or worry about getting better at your scuba skills, once you have that basic open water certification card? After all, your basic card is good for life. It shows everyone who's interested that you are a certified scuba diver.
That card doesn't make you a skilled scuba diver though.
If you don't practice your observation skills you risk losing sight of your dive buddy. You won't know, and can't help, if that buddy gets into trouble during the dive.
And you can't get help from a buddy that's out of sight, and unable to see when you get into trouble yourself.
I know of one diver whose octopus hose tangled under a training platform as she carved a pumpkin one time. She had no idea of the entrapment. Fortunately a pair of divers happened along, noticed her entangled hose, and set it free. She finished carving her pumpkin, and returned safely to the dock.
Without help, and low on air after carving a pumpkin, she faced a potential life-threatening situation.
If you don't practice your breathing techniques you enjoy the underwater world a lot less. You run out of air so fast that you barely get to diving depth before you must return to the surface, and end your dive.
Here again is a situation that not only negatively affects your diving fun, but also destroys the pleasure, and disappoints, other scuba divers. When you burn through your air like a space shuttle sucking rocket fuel you force your buddy to quit the dive early too. Safety demands that your buddy return to the surface when you do.
Ever experience a short dive because you or your dive buddy ran out of air too fast? How did you feel when your buddy signaled a low air condition, after 20 or so minutes into the dive? How did you feel when you saw the look on your buddy's face after you made him quit diving 30-minutes earlier than he expected?
When you fail to sharpen your skill of buoyancy control you risk destroying the underwater pleasure of all scuba divers.
Poor buoyancy control causes you to bounce all over the place during your dive. That takes away from your buddy when he must keep an eye on you in case of a sudden dangerous ascent. If your buddy is a conscientious diver he also must watch to make sure you don't slam into the reef during uncontrolled plunges.
And of course every time you do plunge into the reef you kill coral. That means it won't be there for future scuba divers to study.
Scuba training courses above the basic open water level give you more information, and help you improve your diving skills by showing you how to practice for improvement. Your basic course is merely a door that opens the way to learning this underwater sport.
Don't just step through that door, and decide you've completed your training. Do us all a favor, including yourself, and keep learning your scuba diver's skills. And practice them to keep yourself at expert skill level.
Joe Jackson is a PADI certified dive master who just enjoys being wet. His eBook, "How To Save Air While Scuba Diving" offers methods for conserving scuba air. Get details at: Sip Your Air.