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Recreational Sidemount ...

Discussion in 'Sidemount Diving' started by BCSGratefulDiver, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. BCSGratefulDiver

    BCSGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: On the Fun Side of Trump's Wall
    Curious how many of you dive sidemount on recreational dives. What kind of training did you receive?

    My agency doesn't offer a sidemount class that can be taught to recreational divers. If you want sidemount you have to go NAUI Tech. If you want to teach sidemount you have to be a NAUI Tech instructor. The official agency position is that sidemount is tech diving.

    I just read an interesting post in another forum from a fellow who claims to be the designer of one of the currently offered sidemount systems. His position is that recreational sidemount diving is more akin to "side-slinging" (his term), and that it bears little resemblance to sidemounting for divers entering restrictions. How do those of you who dive sidemount feel about that?

    I'm personally of the opinion that sidemount diving is growing in popularity among recreational divers. There are several reasons for it ... the inherent sense of balance and freedom it gives you ... an aging demographic that has difficulty with backmounted doubles but still wants either the gas or redundancy inherent in doubles ... a sense of something "new" to experience ... and perhaps other reasons. It really doesn't matter whether someone finds those to be valid reasons or not ... in a free market, people are going to buy and try what they want, regardless of how an agency feels about its appropriateness to a given type of diving.

    And I disagree with the designer fellow ... if you're going to be using a sidemount system you should be using it as it's designed and intended for use. Tanks that are slung like stage bottles aren't giving you the real benefit and streamlining of sidemount. And it just invites poor technique as divers progress ... it would inevitably lead to people entering overheads thinking they were properly equipped and trained for that environment, and either hurting themselves or damaging the environment.

    What are your thoughts? What kind of training do you think a recreational sidemounter really needs? And should this be a certification class or just an ad hoc skills workshop?

    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
    CBK and Blue Life like this.
  2. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    Bob, PM me a link to that post. I don't have time today to go hunting. Finishing up taxes and have a couple regs on the bench in for service.

    I do agree with you though. I took my Recreational Sidemount course with Doppler last year. SDI Sidemount is what the card says. We did not take any shortcuts because this was an OW cert and not a tech cert. I'll be doing Adv Wreck and Deco with him this year in SM as well. I have a strong interest in the recreational OW Sidemount class due to a number of my students being older, some have back and knee issues, and those who just don't want to lug tanks around on their backs. We also have a number of inland locations where being able to set the tanks down on the shore or in the shallows, walk in with just a harness on, clip in, and go is very attractive.

    I see it as well in a comprehensive skills and education based curriculum as suitable for new OW divers. It would take some modifications to the basic course but with the classes that I teach I don't see why it could not be done. I have em in the pool for 16 hours, in the classroom we already cover gas management and optimal gear configurations. The only limit really is the gear required. Double the regs, double the tanks, etc.

    In that vein I plan to do all or at least most of my diving this year in SM. I have three sets of steel tanks ready and can put together more. There is nothing in the standards that prevents me from doing OW checkouts in SM or any of my other classes. The idea is to be able to offer a recreational SM course OR workshop for OW recreational divers this season using proper SM techniques and configurations. With the idea that this is for recreational divers only.

    But thinking that they may decide to do tech in the future I don't want them to get the wrong info and have to unlearn it. I have enough time in my current rig that I think I could take one of my students and get her started in it. Tailored to her needs, I'd set it up with a couple of 40's. She has the skills and awareness to do the gas management required and a SAC rate of .26. I am planning on doing this myself this year. I need another 40 anyway so if I have two of them why not?

    The key is though that I am not going to do this until I feel ok enough with my experience and knowledge level to offer a class I would be ok taking. And it won't be offered to everyone. Some people don't have the attitude and discipline required. I think offering a course that is more or less a "here's a quick way into sort of SM" is a mistake and opens it up to abuse and lots of newbs swimming around looking like crap in the water.

    Side slinging is not Sidemount. I see that as creating more issues than solving them. That to me kinda sound s like the AIR2 solution to SM.
    CBK, shoredivr and exposure like this.
  3. BCSGratefulDiver

    BCSGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: On the Fun Side of Trump's Wall
    Jim, the post I referenced is in a forum dedicated to NAUI instructors ... I don't think you can get there without a NAUI member number ...

    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
  4. DevonDiver

    DevonDiver N/A

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Subic Bay, Philippines
    Bob, I totally agree with you. I teach recreational, technical and overhead sidemount for several agencies.

    The training I provide for recreational sidemount is identical to that taught at the core of higher-level sidemount courses: proper set-up and configuration, to permit steam-lined, effective cylinder and diver trim, hose management, gas management, mobility, propulsion and control, along with open-water emergency/contingency skills and drills.

    I think certification is beneficial if the sidemount diver intends to pursue further courses using that configuration; such as overhead or technical. As an instructor, I'd want to see evidence of effective training before I allowed a diver onto a course using other than single-tank back-mount...

    Side-slinging isn't sidemounting. It's a very, very poor substitute. The only reason I can think for adopting such an approach is a lack of competency/knowledge on behalf of the instructor concerned. i.e. they cannot sidemount.
    exposure likes this.
  5. Wookie

    Wookie Curmudgeon Apprentice ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Supporter

    Can I get a like for NOT adding my 2 cents?
  6. SeaCobra

    SeaCobra Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: West Chester, PA
    tsk tsk Bob, taking a private conversation out of the network :(

    I agree that sidemount diving is growing in popularity for a number of reasons and so is the number of folks that want to meet the needs and desires of their customers. I, too, want to meet those needs and that is why I have been involved in that conversation, along with others at NAUI, why I have taken several workshops in sidemount diving and am making the investment to offer it this year.

    There are a good number of excellent sidemount instructors and divers out there, but my research over the past year has seen a troubling number of bad ones as well. Another reason why NAUI has not just jumped on the bandwagon here. I have seen a number of inconsistencies in the sidemount community and for me personally, sidemuont does not offer any real advantage to my diving.

    He does say that NAUI needs a recreational and a technical sidemount class. But we need to make sure that what is taught at the recreational level does not contradict or require re-learning at the technical level. Proper configuration, trim, balance and technique must be taught at all levels.

    On another note, I became an IANTD instructor back in 1989 or 1990 because NAUI did not have a nitrox course at the time. That changed as I suspect this will as well.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
  7. Scott

    Scott Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
    All of my free time diving is in sidemount.

    I have yet to take a recreational sidemount course since all of my sidemount training came from technical courses and picking the brains of a number of people who more knowledgeable than I am on the subject, so my recreational courses tend to have more technical influence.

    Just as I place an emphasis on trim for single back back mount divers, I do the same with streamlining and configuration in sidemount. I've tried side slinging on purpose and by mistake and like others have stated, it creates more issues than it solves.
  8. Ken T

    Ken T Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
    It is a bit of a fallacy to think that because there are bad recreational SM divers, that teaching it to non-tech divers should be discouraged.

    There are lots of bad back mount divers, so should teaching of OW be halted as well?

    I took the PADI SM recreational course this last summer. I have been diving in that configuration since to maintain skills and become more comfortable with it.

    I was lucky to have an instructor who is cave certified and had written and taught his own SM distinctive specialty before PADI came out with their own.

    So, I adhere to Keep It Simple Streamlined and I like to think I am not a complete mess underwater.

    I am not sure where the manufacturer/designer is thinking that rec. SM divers are side slinging. That is certainly not the case in my local.

    Everyone around here that is SM is pretty streamlined.

    Sent from my Nexus S using Tapatalk
  9. SeaCobra

    SeaCobra Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: West Chester, PA
    You misunderstand a point or two; no one is saying not to teach it to non-tech people, but that it should be taught properly. Not all recreational sidemount divers are side slingers or wide mounters, but there are some and that is what we want to avoid on all levels.
  10. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
    There frequently is a terminology clarification that is needed. Sidemounting is an advanced level technical activity,that involves specialized configuration to enter restrictions with gear removal,and team communication in no-viz conditions. Sidemount configuration is learning to dive with tanks on your side. So yes, recreational,and frequently some levels of tech diving, it is "akin to side slinging" tanks.

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