When I am talking with people about what I do as a hobby, almost 80 percent of them say something to the effect that they always wanted to scuba dive but did not know how to go about getting the certification. There could be a couple of other obstacles getting in the way of someone becoming a scuba diver. Still the how is always one of the biggest obstacles.
Now, not all of the human population lives on a coast. Happens to be that I live outside of Chicago in Northwest Indiana. We have a strong population of scuba divers here in this particular landlocked area. Sure, we have the Great Lakes right here on our doorstep. Still people do not realize that you could be scuba diving there. So you should not let your geographical area make the determination if you should scuba dive or not. To share another secret with you, I have a couple of friends that actually lived in Hawaii and did not learn to scuba dive till they started living here. Really, you can not get much more friendlier than Hawaii. So even those that live in the "right" areas, do not take advantage of what they have.
Deciding that you can scuba dive and do not need to live on a coast somewhere. What is the best way to go about learning to scuba dive? Since this is a sport that will take you into another realm, take a look for some local experts. These people can be found in your local dive shops. Not sure where those might be, use the internet. You could just type in that search engine of your choice; Dive Shops in my city or town. If you want to get a little more specific, you could even go out to the websites for various certifying agencies like PADI, NAUI, SDI (to name a few) and use their dive shop locators.
One of the nice things about going out to the certifying agencies websites is that you can find out more about their teaching philosophies, requirements for courses and get a feel for the type of training that you will receive. Still, you need to speak to a real person and make the determination if they are going to be right to teach you or your family. Take the time to ask questions of your local dive shop. Scuba diving is about relationships. If you feel like the relationship is not going to be good for you or your family, do not take your lessons there. Find one that you feel comfortable with. Like I said earlier, you are entering a different realm and world than the one you are sitting in right now. Take the time to make sure your guide into that new world is one that you feel comfortable with.
You have done some homework and investigation, you are feeling comfortable about the conversations you are having with the local dive shop. Hopefully you are even talking with the instructor that will be taking you into the water and that new world we have eluded too. What should you expect in the manner of learning to scuba dive?
Realistically there are 2 directions that you can take and accomplish your goal of becoming a scuba diver. One path, allows you to explore the idea of scuba diving without making the whole commitment to becoming a scuba diver. This may be called a couple different things depending on the certifying agency. Commonly it is referred to as Discover Scuba Diving or Try Scuba Diving. The other path is that you say that you are going to love this and want to become a scuba diver and you just sign up for the class and lessons.
Let's talk about Discover Scuba Diving or Try Scuba Diving. This is to allow you the ability to explore what it is like to breath underwater. This course may take place in a pool, or in a controlled environment where you get a chance to explore scuba diving with all the wildlife where you are diving. If you are in the Caribbean, you might have heard of the "Resort Course" where you can scuba dive for a day while on vacation. These scuba diving adventures are nothing more than a discover scuba diving course on their reefs. Back to your local dive shop though, discover scuba diving is designed to let you feel what it is like to be weightless underwater. Feel the thrill of just floating around like you are in space. Breathing underwater and becoming more comfortable about the new world you have just entered into. You are finding out that scuba diving is not all that hard and you can start to get the feeling on why so many people like to scuba dive. In terms of timeframe, these courses normally take about 2 hours. As you can see, not a huge timeframe issue to just get your toes and hair wet. Finding out that you like this, now we can take it to the next step.
Becoming a scuba diver. No matter which path you choose to get here, you are signing up for the course and lessons. Now depending on the certifying agency, there are a couple of different levels of scuba diver. All follow the same guidelines so for simplicity I will keep the conversation as becoming a scuba diver.
In becoming a scuba diver, I like to let my future divers know there are 3 phases as it was to achieving your goal. That first phase is knowledge development. Like we have said before, you are entering a new world of excitement and adventure. With that, you should be aware of what that new world entails. Along with that, start understanding how you can be in that new world comfortably, confidently and safely. This starts in the classroom and allows us to talk about concepts and principles to make your scuba diving safe and enjoyable for years to come.
The second phase of becoming a scuba diver is skills development in a confined water setting. There are some skills that you need to learn as a scuba diver to be safe and comfortable underwater. Here we go through those skills so that you have a chance to practice and learn them in an area where you can stand up if need be. We do not just throw you in the deep end and hope you fend for yourself. Step by step, we work with you to develop your skill sets so that you can handle problems that may arise underwater and keep diving safely. We are going to intermix a couple of dives in there so that you can move around a bit and practice what we are learning.
Last phase in becoming a scuba diver is the open water phase. Here, we take those skills that we learned in the restricted environment and use them on actual scuba divers. Now you are showing the instructor that you have learned the concepts and demonstrate to them that you are going to be safe, comfortable and confident scuba diver. The instructor has not left your side yet. They are there to make sure you have the support and time that you need to become that scuba diver that we just talked about. Along with that, they are going to point out the cool things you can see underwater now that you are scuba diving.
See, not all that cumbersome to become a scuba diver. As for timeframe, some courses can have you being a scuba diver in a couple of days. While others can be a day a week for a couple of weeks. Again, this should be discussed with your local dive professional. More times than not, they can schedule something that meets your timeframes.
Ultimately, my goal as a Scuba Diving Professional is to make sure that you are safe, comfortable and confident scuba diver. I want you to enjoy scuba diving for as long as I have if not longer. Hopefully you see that becoming a scuba diver is not a long drawn out process. It is, like other skills that you newly acquire, something that you do need to take some courses on. This skill has the ability to open up new worlds for you. I look forward to scuba diving with you soon.