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Technical Spearfishing Technical Scuba diving is generally defined as going deeper than 130 feet. You must have the proper training for this extreme aspect of spearfishing.

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Old 09-19-2012, 01:05 PM   #1
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How to choose a Trimix Instructor

From time to time I see posts where divers are interested in diving deeper to spear fish and (rightly so) inquire about trimix instruction. But, consistently, the requests are for “spear friendly” trimix instructors. As if spear fishing somehow requires different procedures or protocols than other forms of trimix diving or that the laws of physics apply differently to spear fisherman than to non-spearing divers!

For those that are interested in Trimix diving, first and foremost I believe it is important to understand that trimix diving is merely the “vehicle” that gets you to your ultimate destination, whether it is spear fishing, photography, exploration or cave diving. The rules of physics apply to everyone equally regardless of whether you have a video camera or a spear gun in your hand. And how you “get there and back” safely is what you are buying from your Trimix instructor.

I also clearly understand that there is a lot of spear fisherman that believe that the only way to successfully hunt is to solo dive. That the methods used for just cruising wrecks at 220’ will not work when you add a gun. That is a false assumption and has cost the lives of a great many divers. One only need to look back into the 90’s when the NE wreck divers adamantly claimed that what the caves divers were doing in the WKPP would never work in their “environment”. Fast forward 20 years and you would be hard pressed to find a diver in the NE not diving trimix on deep wrecks, breathing the long hose on doubles with an isolator valve.

So what should a spear fisherman interested in trimix look for in a good trimix instructor or course. First, the instructor should “practice what he preaches”. He should be a trimix diver that spends the majority of his diving time actually diving and not some guy who’s only dives for the past 3 years are all teaching dives. He should also understand what he is teaching you and not just regurgitating what the book says. He should be able to be challenged by the student and answer the “why” questions with more than, “that’s what they told me at ITC”.

The Student then should be ready to (to quote what my trimix instructor told me on the first day of class in 1997) “take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth”. Be prepared, at least, to rethink everything you have been doing underwater, from procedures to gear selection. Put away your ego. Understand that decompression diving/trimix diving you are in an “overhead” environment, you DO NOT have direct access to the surface. You will have to deal with every problem and solve it if you are to survive, and 99% of those “problems” start before you enter the water or even leave the dock.

So what should you Trimix instructor teach you? That YOU are the most important item you can bring back from any dive and so is your buddy! (Arrrrggg, there is that buddy thing again). Next is that trimix diving really requires a true team, at least 2 competent divers focused on each other and the operational goal of the dive. You, as a solo diver, can carry in triplicate, just about every conceivable item that could break on a dive but one, an extra brain. And that my friends, is the difference between a body search or having dinner at home with the family. ANY instructor that tells you that you can safely dive solo deep is stealing your money. You can effectively accomplish ANY goal with a dive team that you could solo. And I don’t mean a “same ocean” buddy team.

Once you adapt a team approach, you will realize that your buddy, team member(s), carries most of your redundant equipment also. And that will directly result in a more streamlined, more effective diver that is not lugging around drag inducing gear. Your instructor can help you streamline your gear, streamline your in-water trim and should be able to teach you a more relaxed approach to swimming that will directly result in more fish caught.

A good trimix instructor should also be able to teach you proper decompression techniques that will allow you to calculate most decompression schedules in your head, on the fly, down to about 250’. Not only giving you the tools to adapt to your ever changing diving environment (staying a bit longer on a fish or leaving earlier due to no fish) but saving you thousands of dollars on mix gas computers. He or she should also be able to instruct you on standard diving and decompression mixes that enable you to dive in a wide range of depths.

In essence, a good Trimix instructor should be able to give you the tools to safely and successfully accomplish your goals, whether they are spearing monster fish in 200’ of water, exploring caves in the North Florida woods or shooting video on a wreck in 260’.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by jadairiii; 09-19-2012 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:00 PM   #2
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Re: How to choose a Trimix Instructor

I had a mix instructor who spearfished,what we did in practice was different than what the course taught RE:no buddy,no 1/3s, high END and some configuration changes.Of course this was 1999-2000 and after deep air and tech nitrox classes w the same guy including diving air to 200' spearfishing and actually shooting fish,diving a re-homebuilt 30 yr old Russian rebreather reconfigured for mix.Things now frowned on I hear.

My experience with most instructors at any level as you indicated is that they need to be active not just pool and quarry teachers.The most clueless and useless guys ever on any boat I have ever been on were DMs and instructors.Mainly due to already knowing my protocols,gear and diving were in some way flawed instead of simply looking at what I could do routinely that they had never done.NEWBs tend to listen and learn.

It was a tremendous experience to find a guy like that as well as hang out in the Grotto listening to the GUE guys berate the TDI/IANTD etc guys who in turn wrung thier hands at the thought PADI might soon get into deep diving.It was like each instructor thought the other guys were totally wrong on every aspect where they didn't see exactly the same.I'd like to see a breakdown on deaths and injuries in relation to agency,I doubt there's any huge difference.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:28 PM   #3
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Re: How to choose a Trimix Instructor

I get what your saying, am i just being greedy wanting my instructor to know tech AND spearfishing? Sure I know how to work a gun under water and if i learn deco and mix diving then i could apply the math and just do what Ive always done but really freaking deep... Or i could find a tech spearo who will interlace what I'm going to be doing into my lessons.

I'm not anti buddy diving by any stretch, if i don't shoot any fish its no big deal because i can hit mac ds on the way home. I'm out there to have fun and only fun so coming back is priority.

I don't want to take pictures or swim with jew fish, i just want to rod a few hogs and head up the line, there has to be a card for that right???
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Old 09-24-2012, 12:59 AM   #4
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Re: How to choose a Trimix Instructor

hear you loud and clear. great advice. getting just below the surface. still does not address my needs. looking for way way way below the surface.

spearing monsters = strenous workload profile
sight seeing monsters = relaxing workload profile

spearing underwater and sight seeing underwater are two way way way completely different profile.

still don't get it? obviously we all drive automobile. driving at 25mph and driving at 90mph are two way way way completely different profile.

want a tri-mix instructor with spearing experience.

looking for a 90mph instructor who races regularly (who understand the dynamics of 90mph). not a 25mph instructor who regurgitate races (i can do that myself - much better online).

not looking for a walking tri-mix book.
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:24 AM   #5
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Re: How to choose a Trimix Instructor

Originally Posted by UaVaj View Post
hear you loud and clear. great advice. getting just below the surface. still does not address my needs. looking for way way way below the surface.

spearing monsters = strenuous workload profile
sight seeing monsters = relaxing workload profile


There is a fitness component to deep diving/Trimix diving that is commonly overlooked by most agencies. Dealing with a “strenuous workload profile”, has nothing to do with a trimix course, that is addressed in your fitness regiment above water.

Example, my dive buddy is a tri-athlete. I swim masters and on an average week swim 12,000 meters (3000 to 3200 meter workouts in one hour). Others bike or run. You should not even consider trimix diving if you are not already in excellent physical condition, especially if you are going to spear fish at depth.

But again, that is why finding the right instructor is so important, they will teach you that. Physical fitness is a “tool” that you need to bring to a trimix class.
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