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Scuba diving courses – What do we value most, more depth or more skill?



Scuba diving is an expensive hobby and courses are no exception. And with the budgets available to spend on our hobbies being squeezed it’s an interesting time to look at how we perceive value in relation to dive courses.

It’s obvious that we want to get the biggest ‘bang for our buck’ from scuba courses and for many of us that means increased ‘depth for our dollar’ and the new breed of ‘tech’ courses seem to offer this in spades. But are this new breeds of mainstream scuba diving courses really the best way to progress ones training? I think the answer is not always.

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The first question to ask is why is taking such a course a bad thing? It would seem reasonable that if a recreational diver wanted to improve their diving, that by taking a course that taught them the more advanced skills, equipment and procedures that are required to undertake deeper dives they would be a more skilled diver at the end of that course? Unfortunately this is not always the case. This is because to be a more skilled diver does not always mean more complex skills. It requires refinement of basic dive skills.

Scuba diving courses will always be driven by two factors; time and money. The longer a course the more it will cost, so in order to keep them of a reasonable length, the agencies have to focus training time only on the specific skills that are required for deeper diving such as decompression and gas planning, stage bottle use, and emergency procedures such as gas sharing and vale manipulation. However, the problem arises because these more complex skills are built on a weak foundation of basic recreational dive skills.

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Basic skills such as trim, buoyancy control and propulsion that are not refined at the recreational level are required to act as foundations for more demanding skills such as gas switching, SMB deployment, ascent control and most importantly, teamwork. And like a castle built on sand, the foundations will crumble.

So the diver leaves the course with new equipment and procedures that they can only use on ‘tech’ dives and very little in terms of improved basics skills that would make the other 99% of their diving safer and more fun.

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So what is the conclusion? Divers should accept that huge value can be gained by getting the basics right. Comfort, control and capacity will be increased by more advanced training but only when built on a strong foundation. Rushing forward to pursue depth based ‘tech’ certifications leaves a vacuum of basic dives skills behind the diver that they will realize too late need to be filled.

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James has spent nearly 10 years teaching and diving in some of the world’s most enviable and challenging dive locations. He is an active trimix and cave diver and now has nearly 2000 dives in such diverse locations such as Caribbean reefs, Fjords in the Arctic Circle, submerged volcanoes in Coral Sea and the caves of Florida, Mexico and France and wrecks of the UK's south coast. He now teaches exclusively as a GUE (Global Underwater Explorers) instructor for TecLife (

Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out Part II: Blank Slate (Watch Video)



I owe you all an update on the dream dive locker build out! We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to build my dream dive locker/scuba classroom/office. In this installment, I’m going to answer your questions and comments from the first video in this series.

Scuba diving is my passion and to have a dedicated space for all my dive gear, as well as a hang out spot for my students, is a dream come true.

Let me know your color choice! 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5!

Thanks for watching!



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Dive Training Blogs

Jeff chats to… Paul Toomer, President of RAID (Watch Video)



In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Paul Toomer, President of RAID International Dive Training Agency. Paul gives great insight into the diving industry during these difficult times as well as his predictions for the future. He talks about the ethics and training with RAID, and covers diving in the UK and other temperate waters.

Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

For more information, visit

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