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March 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Decline of Dive Training: Part I

and other practices killing the industry

from the March, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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On most dive trips, at some point the conversation slides into talking about "turkey divers," novices who clearly had insufficient training and really shouldn't be doing these dives until they develop better skills. Most often, it's not the diver's fault; rather, he was rushed through a course at home, had short and simple checkout dives in warm, clear water, and now finds himself facing five-foot swells, overcast skies and stiff currents in 70-degree water with 20-foot visibility. While we at times inappropriately laugh at these souls, we also fear for them because scuba can be a dangerous sport. So I asked Bret Gilliam, who has experience in more facets of the dive industry than anyone alive, to give his thoughts and then some. Here is the first section of his two-part article -- Ben Davison

Diving is a complicated sport. Not adversely so, but just like skiing, hang gliding and spelunking, there are prerequisites to be met, skills to be mastered and experience to be acquired in order to participate with an acceptable degree of risk. Notice that I said, "risk," not "safety," because active outdoor sports are not safe. There are hazards, and the potential exists for injury and even death, though training and practical experience can mitigate those risks. Diving also requires comprehension of subjects like embolism and decompression sickness. This isn't bowling or golf.

I believe that in today's troubled industry, certification programs are not preparing divers properly. It's a complicated issue and some parties will not warmly receive my analysis. So here we go......


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