Dispelling the Myths Surrounding Why You Should not Scuba Dive
I have been a scuba diver for almost 20 years and a scuba instructor for more than 5 years. Still, it shocks me to hear some of the myths on why people do not want to dive. Some of the most common myths include: scuba diving is too hard; there is nowhere around here to go diving; scuba equipment costs too much; or my favorite is that scuba diving is too extreme or dangerous.
Let’s start with the last one, scuba diving is too extreme for the common person or that it is dangerous. First, we have to understand that being human has inherent risks that we can not control (As a current commercial says, “It could be other humans”). Yes, scuba diving does have some inherent risks to it. If you are properly trained and follow safety protocols that almost every certifying agency (ie PADI, NAUI, SSI) prescribes to, your chances of injury is dramatically reduced. We still believe that your instructor is the main influencer to your future safety. IF they are poor, most likely your experience is going to be poor too (please note, if you had a poor experience with an instructor, do not give up diving, find a different professional to dive with).
As for being an extreme sport, I have not seen scuba diving sponsored by Mountain Dew or advertised on the X Games, so it can not be that extreme! Humor aside, the reason diving received the rap about being an extreme sport was because original scuba equipment did not promote the feeling of being comfortable and confident in the water. I know this because I started out diving with much of this equipment. Looking back on it, if I was to choose diving over another activity, I would have stayed with the other activities. Those days being long in the rearview mirror, scuba equipment has lent itself to you being safer in the water, more comfortable in the water and then more confident in the water. Properly configured equipment will do wonders on your abilities. That scuba equipment takes the extreme nature out of scuba diving.
So is the cost or your scuba equipment too much? Remember what I just said, proper equipment does wonders on your abilities to go with confidence and comfort. With that being said, if you’re looking to completely outfit yourself, a complete scuba equipment kit; it could cost anywhere from $ 500 to holy garbanzo beans! Scuba equipment should be looked at as lifesaving equipment, so cheap is not always the answer here. What you plan on doing with your adventures adventures is what you should be basing your buying decisions on. Your locations of diving are going to influence more of what you should buy then just cost. This is where you need to trust a professional to help guide you along in your buying process. They should have the knowledge and be willing to listen to you about what you are looking to do with your departure, then help you make the correct decisions on equipment.
Remember, you do not have to purchase everything at once. You can purchase items here and there as money becomes available. Otherwise, you are going to be renting the required equipment until you get to the point of purchasing. No matter where you live, you are probably going to find a dive shop to help you make those decisions.
So if there are scuba dive shops almost anywhere, does that mean you can go diving almost anywhere? Why yes you can. I will let you in on a little known fact: the founders of PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) were originally from the Chicago area. If they could figure out a way to go diving there, you can probably go scuba diving where you are too. You do not have to live within an hour of the Florida Keys, or the Gulf of Mexico. Or, you do not have to live within an hour of the Catalina Islands in California. While those places do lend them to the diving lifestyle, you can dive in the Great Lakes or even those lakes near your house. There are quarries scattered all across the country that dive shops use to certify people. Along with that, there are multiple lakes that lend themselves to scuba diving too. I live in the Midwest, outside of Chicago, in Northwest Indiana. Weather permitting, I can be diving on shipwrecks within about an hour or two of my house.
So if you want to find out where the locals dive, go to the dive shop and find out where they dive. More opportunities than not, it is within the local area. If they really want you to live, then they are going to offer trips to go to other places to scuba dive. Does not that sound easy enough?
So we have not talked yet about scuba diving being too hard. Reference the conversation earlier about equipment and perception. Diving has gotten easier. With any certifying agency, we are asking what your current state of health is. If there is a question, then we have a doctor give the thumbs up on your ability to dive. If they clear you, then we are good to have fun and start exploring. There is a physical aspect to diving, No doubt about that. I try to reduce that stress as much as possible. On the flip side, there is also a mental aspect to scuba diving. More people get hung up on the mental side more than the physical side.
Face it, when you step into the water, put the regulator in your mouth and slide below the waves, you take a step back in the evolutionary chain. Once you relax and realize that you have a full tank of air, everything becomes easier. We are going to have you do skills in the water to overcome common issues. While you may not like the skills, if you follow what the instructor is teaching then that too becomes easier and more relaxing.
So the scuba equipment manufacturers have created equipment that makes us feel more comfortable and confident in the water. Proper instruction helps you to understand common issues that can happen underwater and gives you techniques to correct those issues. Your instructor is there to also remove many of the physical strains that will happen during scuba diving. So how can this be too hard? Again, scuba diving sufferers from a perception of what it used to be like, and not what it is today.
From someone that has been scuba diving for years, we start to see that scuba diving, with the right instructors is not too hard. They will show us many places to go scuba diving and really it does not cost all that much for our safety and comfort. Since we do not see Mountain Dew advertising scuba diving, it really can not be all that extreme. Scuba diving should be looked at as a relaxing and enjoyable sport that almost everyone can enjoy.
Mike S. Shea