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May 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A Dive Shop Owner’s Take on Dive Training

“too many inexperienced divers say ‘I can do this’”

from the May, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Hi Ben,

I just finished reading Bret Gilliam's Part I on "The Decline of Dive Training" in your March issue, and while I agree with most of what he says, he missed a larger point when it comes to referral training. In the "good old days" when training was completed start-to-finish with your local dive shop, the shop had a large stake in making sure you were trained properly and enjoyed the sport to the point where you wanted to continue. By certifying qualified, happy divers, there was a better chance you'd buy some big-ticket gear and continue diving with the shop -- it was essentially an investment in a long-term customer, and longterm profits for the store.

But when divers go to a resort to complete their training, that perspective goes away. First, the resort has no real emotional investment in the aspiring divers who will be gone in seven days. There is generally no long term benefit to the resort. The divers are also on vacation, a totally different mindset from taking a class, and who in the service industry really wants to ruin someone's vacation? All of this means (and this is not intended as a slam at the resorts, it's just the way things are) resorts will generally do whatever they need to do to "get someone through" the required certification dives. You're going to have to be pretty incompetent to fail. The resorts will bend over backwards to get skills completed and dives done, which may mean divers relying more on the supervising instructor than might normally be the case at a local dive shop. So what you end up with many times are divers who are certified but who lack basic competence. As Bret points out, clearing your mask once on the 24th try doesn't cut it for many of us, but it may seem to meet a training standard, especially to a newer, inexperienced instructor supervising....

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