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 don’t 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 hoodies 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’t 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 (i.e. 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, don’t give up diving, find a different professional to dive with).
As for being an extreme sport, I haven’t seen scuba diving sponsored by Mountain Dew or advertised on the X Games, so it can’t 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 thus 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 dive 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 diving 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 diving, then help you make the correct decisions on equipment.
Remember, you don’t 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 don’t have to live within an hour of the Florida Keys, or the Gulf of Mexico. Or, you don’t have to live within an hour of the Catalina Islands in California. While those places do lend themselves 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 chances than not, it is within the local area. If they really want you to dive, then they are going to offer trips to go to other places to scuba dive. Doesn’t 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 backwards 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 might not like the skills, if you follow what the instructor is teaching then that too becomes easier and more relaxing.