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How to find your own style?

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by kafkaland, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. kafkaland

    kafkaland Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Saline, Michigan
    Greetings! I'm a newly certified PADI OW diver, and I'm a bit confused about what seems to be a vast divergence of styles, procedures, levels of risk tolerance, etc., which seem to be advocated for with a lot of passion by individual divers. I'm looking for advice on how to calibrate myself in this environment, and find my own style expeditiously without putting myself at undue risk, or ticking off too many people in the process.

    My training so far has been an exercise in contrasts: I took my classroom and pool lessons with an ex US Navy diver and avid techie, who is certified as a trimix instructor. The classes were no-nonsense, we had to remember at all times, for instance, when our cylinder was last hydrostatically tested, and went through lots of drills assembling an disassembling the rig for time, etc. The classroom training exceeded the guidelines, for instance, we learned how to use nitrox tables, or about virtual (decompression) ceilings.

    Then I did my checkout dives in Costa Rica, with am easygoing young instructor on a dive boat that seemed to run on Pura Vide. The instruction appeared to be sloppy, certainly compared to what I was used to. The PADI standards seemed to be treated more as guidelines than requirements; I'm pretty sure we skipped at least one mandatory drill. Only the instructor had a dive computer or timing device of any kind, and we went a little deeper than the 60ft. limit on one of the dives. But still logged it at 60. Had it been logged correctly, and had we used instead of relying on the instructor's computer the dive tables with the prescribed rounding up of times and depths, we would have actually been just barely over the no-deco limits for the day. For training purposes, that made me a bit uncomfortable, although I understand that given the particular profile, the warm water and generally easy conditions, it was still within what's likely safe.

    Now I have signed up for a nitrox course. I know professionally a bit about physiology, and it just makes a lot of sense to me to use nitrox in many situations. And reading through the PADI manual, it basically tells me to just rely on my computer. Now that really starts to make me nervous - somehow I prefer to have at least a good understanding of what the limits are, so that in the unlikely event that my computer tells me nonsense, I can check for plausibility and, if warranted, substitute my own more conservative judgement. Am I just too skittish as a new diver might well be, or are there corners cut?

    I have looked around online a bit, and the GUE philosophy resonates with me a bit, although it seems to overdo it on the other side by being too dogmatic. Aren't there situations where one might indeed be just fine with cutting a few corners, like on a shallow reef dive with an experienced divemaster? And taking a GUE course seems out of the question at this point for me, though, as I don't think I can get anywhere near their exacting standards, no matter how hard I try.

    Anyway, I'm a little bit confuse as to what the best way for me to find my own style between these extremes, and become a competent diver who others want to go diving with quickly. Any non-dogmatic suggestions, and perhaps examples of how you have found your way in this environment would be much appreciated.

    Thank you!

  2. fjpatrum

    fjpatrum Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: DC area
    The best way for you to find your own style is read as much as you can and filter them as you see the importance to your diving goals. For me, I took an online Nitrox class that offered tables and more in depth theory, for example. I still use my computer but I know how to fall back on tables if necessary.

    Similarly, I read voraciously about diving, here and elsewhere. I know a lot more about things than my actual dive numbers would indicate. I still need to keep practicing the practical application of that information, but I'm not just assuming anyone else will take care of me and expecting it will be "okay" without understanding the risks I'm taking.

    As with everything in life, it's a personal choice. I choose to be as informed as possible about as many aspects/sides of an issue (in this case diving) and then decide for myself what is applicable to me. If you choose this route, you must be comfortable accepting responsibility for your own (and sometimes other people's) failures , though, and willing to figure out for yourself what to do in emergencies when (not if) they happen.
  3. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    You will start out with fairly easy dives in excellent conditions, most likely, then progress to more challenging situations. This will give you some idea of your tolerance to risk and desire for mastery.

    But in scuba, you can get into a dangerous situation before you see it coming. So the accidents section of the forum is useful to read through for what went wrong with others' dives, and you can think about the issues and how they were handled. Couple that with a Rescue Diver course and you'll become a safer, more self-aware diver.

    Any idea where you're likely to be doing most of your diving? That will have a big impact on the type of diving conditions you'll be in, and how prepared you will need to be.

  4. diver 85

    diver 85 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: SW Louisiana
    OP, you keep talking about "this environment"......I found my way thru it by kickin' & paddlin'....Man, if you could have only taken the course(s) before computers were out there......:)...( I used my 1st computer about 6 years ago, after diving for almost 25 years------ah, those were the days....)
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  5. theskull

    theskull Divemaster

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: St. Louis, MO
    Relax. Breathe. Dive. Remember that this is a hobby that you want to have fun with. Reading too much interwebs chat without any relevant experience will just make you anxious.
    Find some local divers, perhaps through your local dive shop or even on here, and go do some easy diving with them. This could also be accomplished by signing up for an Advanced Open Water Class (it is really not "Advanced", just slightly more advanced than you are right now) and maybe even the Rescue Diver course.
    As you start doing some diving and learning from those you dive and hang out with, the majority of the issues you bring up will sort themselves out. Just have some fun and use common sense in the "is this risk acceptable for me?" department. Not sure you can handle the current? Sit one out. Friends planning a dive that seems a little too deep for your current experience? Sit one out.
    Please find some good buddies and some easy dives and have some fun!

    BDSC and chillyinCanada like this.
  6. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    Dive with as many people as you can, and see whose approach feels like an old shoe. For me, diving with the GUE folks just plain fit (and it's not as dogmatic as you may conclude from some of what you read on line). For my friend NW Grateful Diver, the training was useful but the diving style didn't fit with his enjoyment of solo diving.

    It IS useful to make some risk tolerance decisions early on, though. You really shouldn't let someone else's laxity get you into dives for which you aren't ready or with which you don't feel comfortable.
  7. Agility

    Agility Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Austria
    read Deco for Divers by Mark Powell for the theory part of diving, the Six Skills by Steve Lewis for the practical and go diving as much as possible. Stay within your comfort zone and it will magically expand :wink: to a point where you want to try new sites and challenges
  8. Atsbits

    Atsbits Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Johannesburg
    Keep learning as much as you can, and keep asking questions, even if it will tick off some people. I have much the same attitude as you about wanting to know more. Finding your style will come with experience, so dive with as many people as you can who are willing to take you in. Make yourself available to be around even if it's just to listen. Help whenever you can. It is quite amazing how people will be willing to help you if you show interest. Also, pick a Nitrox instructor that will go beyond "just use your computer" attitude of the PADI course. I did CMAS, we used tables, calculators and brains, ( 2 cells count, ok?)

    The club I dive with has a wide mix of tech and rec divers and I've learned things from world record holders and basic ow students alike. I have found a group that is compatible with my diving style and they know I am willing to learn and help as much as I can. This, along with my cooking skills, has earned me a place on all of the rec level dive trips and when I decide to do tech, I'm sure I'll be there too. Still have a long way to go as I am only starting my rescue course this year.
  9. Nasser

    Nasser ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    I second what TSandM posted. Just dive... and dive with as many people as you can. You will eventually find a style and perhaps even a specialty that will click with you. The more experience you develop, the more you will refine your style and preferences.... and you'll find it's a constantly evolving situation. Try not overthink things too much and just remember to have fun while you're doing it.

    Best of luck



    BTW it's worth noting, as you've already noticed, that agencies will set the minimum requirement and standards needed for a certification, and they can be quite similar from agency to agency with some slight variations ... SSI vs NAUI vs PADI vs BSAC or TDI vs. IANTD vs. DSAT (for tech) or UTD vs GUE (DIR style diving) etc....

    The real difference comes form the quality of instruction you get, and as you've experienced, that can vary significantly... even within the same agency. So although you may eventually find favor with a specific agency, I think the real value lies in seeking out great instructors that go beyond the minimum requirements and can bring their particular depth of experience and passion to the course.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2014
  10. DivemasterDennis

    DivemasterDennis DivemasterDennis ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lakewood, Colorado
    I like a lot of what has been said. I think it's good kafkaland has recognized different styles and preferences within the envelope of "proper and Safe" dive practices. Individual style will develop with the type of diving you do, the type of equipment you use, and the type of training you receive. I am a professional recreational diver, involved with teaching others to be the same. That is the type of diving I do , and my style is related to it. I like to streamline by using adequate and safe equipment but not more than I need. I like to keep movement limited, so that I can extend my dive time as far as gas consumption is concerned. I like to take pictures and video. That's when I am diving for pleasure. I have a different style when involved in instruction. I wear a heavy duty BC, carry extra equipment; am careful to model every skill and safety practice ( on which I may be a little less precise when diving for pleasure), and stress the same in students. Style grow and emerge as grow as a diver. So kafkaland, be an active diver and you will find your own style.

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