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RAID OW 20; An outsider perspective

Discussion in 'RAID' started by JohnnyC, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. JohnnyC

    JohnnyC PADI Pro

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: United States
    A friend of mine decided that he wanted to learn to scuba dive. While there are several option here in Dubai, knowing his personality, as well as our mutual time constraints, I recommended he contact our very own @RainPilot as he is a RAID instructor. Having had the opportunity to read through course curriculum, I thought it would best serve my friend to learn to scuba dive in a small classroom environment, with standards better designed to produce good divers, rather than simply generate income.

    The course breakdown and material is fairly standard, as RAID is a member of the WRSTC. That is really the only commonality with most other popular open water training programs. All of the classroom material is online, and can be completed as the students pace. Rainpilot made himself available to answer any questions that my friend may have had during his classroom portion, and was easily accessible throughout the whole process.

    Day 1 was pool work. After some coffee talk about expectations, standards, course flow, etc., everyone got in the pool. One of the biggest differences was that not a single piece of normal scuba gear save mask and fins was used during "CW1." The entire session was spent focused on proper weighting, buoyancy, trim, and propulsion. Within 15 minutes my friend was in trim, neutrally buoyant, and while he did have sporadic difficulty maintaining this, the concept was proven, and the baseline established for the rest of his training. The entire pool session was foundational, not once was kneeling on the bottom part of the curriculum, and the expectation was introduced that neutral buoyancy and proper trim was to be expected throughout the remaining time.

    Day 2 of pool work was more work on buoyancy and trim, but instead of a long hose off a tank on the side of the pool, it was done in gear. We went through normal assembly procedures, and covered both jacket and BP/W bcd's, as well as normal recreational, as well as long hose setups. Things like gas sharing procedures, gear removal and replace, etc. were again done in mid-water, in neutral buoyancy.

    All of the normal pool skills were covered as with any other open water training program. The biggest talking point is the emphasis on basic foundational skills.

    Dive day 1 was the first set of ocean dives. Dives were briefed, debriefed, and skills accomplished during the actual dive. While many open water dives simply start by planting students on the bottom and going through skill by skill in a hazy cloud of silt and shame, these open water dives were just that, actual dives. Skills were thrown in throughout the dives so that they were given real life context.

    Dive day 2 was more of the same. More skills during the dives, random failures like OOG both ways, and more diving for divings sake. At the end of it, my friend had passed, all the boxes were checked, and he was a scuba diver.

    The biggest takeway was the emphasis on foundational skills in confined water. Most students throw together their gear, kneel on the bottom, flail around a little, then go diving. Rinse, repeat in open water. When the basic skills are emphasized right from the beginning, not only are they retained better, but they more practiced as they are repeated in real world diving environments.

    I had an opportunity to compare end results yesterday in a like-for-like scenario. I took 6 co-workers diving. 5 of the 6 divers were open water, having only completed their training dives. These would be the first dives they have done beyond their open water training. One was the RAID student, the others were PADI OW students that did their course at a dive shop up the coast a little bit. The other diver is a master instructor for several agencies. Because of the odd number of students, and the benign nature of the dive sites, I elected to solo dive along with the group while they got into buddy pairs, the RAID student with the MI. The difference between the skill levels represented by the two agency's students was significant. The PADI students were horizontal when swimming, but otherwise often vertical and struggling with to maintain their position in the water column. Their buddy awareness was often poor, and while none of them were ever in any danger of running OOG, getting lost, etc., they certainly were not examples of "good divers." In contrast, the RAID student was neutrally buoyant, in trim, and when comparing logs as they were filling them out at the end of the day, he saw more wildlife, longer dive times, and subjectively had a much better time than the other divers.

    In the end the results speak for themselves, the methodology and doctrine of the RAID OW20 course unequivocally produced a better scuba diver. My birds-eye view during both the course and actual, post-certification dives made it clear that when emphasis is placed on the foundational skills, taught in a manner that reinforces those skills throughout the course of education, what comes out is a safer, better prepared, and more skillful diver. Kudos to @RainPilot for the course, I'm very happy I recommended him to my friend, and will recommend others to him as well. I'm a definite believer in the way RAID approaches scuba education.
  2. RainPilot

    RainPilot CCR Instructor Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: UAE
    Thanks for the kind words, your friend was a pleasure to train.

    The long hose and no gear CW1 session is something I pulled from the UTD Extreme Scuba Makeover course, the nice thing about teaching RAID is that the “what” is prescribed but the “how” is pretty flexible. The requirement is to establish proper weighting, neutral buoyancy and trim from the outset. I’ve found the lack of gear to be very useful in reducing initial task loading while bringing it all down to fundamentals.
  3. lowviz

    lowviz Solo Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Northern Delaware or the New Jersey Turnpike
    A most intriguing omission! Propulsion.

    My experience was that propulsion could overcome deficiencies in weighting, buoyancy, and trim in order to keep the class moving as a unit. :wink:
    RainPilot likes this.
  4. RainPilot

    RainPilot CCR Instructor Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: UAE
    Indeed. Useful thing, propulsion....

    I had some mental shorthand going on there. I was thinking specifically of the portion done without fins, just a tank on the side with a 15’ hose, students in mask and suit, soft weights held in their hands. I often spend the first day without fins at all, it makes it very easy for them to feel the effects of weight distribution without sculling etc masking any issues.

    Once they have that, we work on frog kick, if they really can’t then I allow modified flutter. RAID requires an environmentally friendly non-silting kick. Haven’t had a student not get at least a useable frog, yet.

    Interesting observation: when I demo kicks, I do a helicopter turn at the end of the pool to come back. I don’t brief it at all, but about half the students do a pretty reasonable turn when it’s their go. Monkey see, monkey do. If you don’t tell them it’s hard, they won’t know.
  5. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    And that's the secret to teaching, scuba, hazwoper, DOT, algebra.
    RainPilot likes this.
  6. decompression

    decompression Instructor...seriously...

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
    Maybe this kinda teaching might catch on...........
    RainPilot likes this.

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