sidemount diver

Benefits of Tech Training as a Sport Diver

by Thomas Powell:

In the world of sport scuba diving, the concept of becoming a “tech diver” is viewed in many different ways. Some consider the technical course progression as very advanced. Others consider this type of training as an avenue toward scary or complicated diving. These mindsets encourage some divers, while scaring others. The reality is that the technical programs out there are designed to improve diver skill levels, and advance education.

What is “technical diving?”
Does this type of diving suggest that you are always going deeper, using mixed gas, staying down longer, or penetrating overhead environments? The answer is no. Instead, “technical” programs teach improved buoyancy, decompression theory, the use of redundant gas sources, differing equipment systems, and sometimes even how to safely penetrate overhead environments. This education does not mean that every diver who has followed this educational path always chooses to dive deeper, longer, or into unique places. Sometimes, divers are seeking to improve personal education, understand other methods of diving, or find tips and tricks that can improve any dive.

Why would a common sport diver choose to do technical training?
Aside from wanting to perform dives that are beyond standard sport limitations, technical training is a complex path. A good example of this can be found when you compare SDI’s Computer Nitrox program to TDI’s Nitrox program. The Computer Nitrox program teaches divers how to use Nitrox gas mixtures up to 40% (Oxygen) using a dive computer. In contrast, the TDI Nitrox program teaches divers every component of the math behind safely diving the same gas mixtures. As a TDI Nitrox student, you learn to do the math yourself following common formulas. As you progress through technical courses, this level of education is maintained. You learn to use math to plan dives while using mixed gasses (and even oxygen percentages greater than 40%) and then how to safely return to the surface following a dive or in the case of an emergency. Similarly, you learn how to safely carry redundant equipment and you practice using each of these items. Continuing your education in scuba diving does not hurt any diver. Even if you never use your technical training to its fullest potential, you improve your knowledge of dive methodology, your personal skill sets, and you better understand some of the actions and activities of the technical divers you encounter at dive sites. These are just some basic reasons why any sport diver may wish to entertain the technical course progression.

Imagine you are a sport diver who has spent some time diving in fun open water locations. You have progressed beyond your initial open water course but realize that you want to learn more about how to streamline your equipment, improve your technique, and enjoy your open water experiences to a greater degree. Technical programs focus on these objectives. In many cases, instructors who teach technical courses charge more for each class, but teach fewer students in each class when compared to a standard sport course. This situation creates a strong individual focus on the skill sets developed and maintained by students as they progress through each level of the technical course progression. Essentially, starting down the technical pathway may be the route for you as a diver to improve and garner a better understanding of dive theory.

Take things a step further.
Imagine you are a diver who loves to search for fossils or shark teeth off the East coast of the United States. Every time you go out on a charter, you descend to roughly 100 feet and search until you have maximized your bottom time and need to ascend to avoid decompression. Technical training may give you as a diver the ability to alter your dive profile. Essentially, you may be trained to carry a higher volume of gas using doubles or sidemount equipment, and you may even be trained to dive using the appropriate type of mixed gas. You would also be able to conclude your dive following a planned decompression profile. These factors may allow you to maximize your bottom time to a greater degree, and remain below searching for teeth longer than others. In this case, you would be using technical course training to dive within recreational depth limits in an effort to extend your bottom time and safely decompress. This is just one more reason why sport divers in places such as North Carolina and Florida choose to follow the technical training path.

Finally, dive site locations are a great reason to look at the technical course progression. Most divers have those dive sites in their minds that they have seen on television or heard about on their travels. Many of these locations require divers to have technical education to safely perform dives. Following a technical course progression may open many doorways to venture to incredible new dive locations.

Is it worth it for you?
The progression of technical courses available from Technical Diving International (TDI) is designed to help sport divers improve skill sets and become better divers. There is always something to learn, and an intense focus on improving skill sets and better understanding dive theory can help any diver perform more efficiently in the water on almost any type of dive. Whether you ever choose to do go deeper, farther, or penetrate overhead environments, the education can help any diver improve. So it may be worth it. Stop by your local TDI Dive Center today and speak with an instructor. Finding out what is available in your area, and how it may help you, never hurt anyone.

– Dr. Thomas Powell – Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC

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