Welcome to Precision Scuba’s inaugural blog page. I’m Rick Landry and the owner of Precision Scuba Instruction and over the years I’ve been an instructor, wreck diver, salvage diver, test diver, search and recovery diver, hunter, and terrible photographer. First certified in 1972, I will try my best to bring my 50 years of experience to these discussions and listen carefully to your responses. I will bring up topics that may be contentious and some that will be educational. I urge an open mind and respectful discussion.
I received my first instructor’s certification from PADI in 1974, and then later switched over to NAUI in 1977. Today, I still teach NAUI and wholeheartedly believe in what they stand for and their philosophy on teaching. There’s also a reason why NAUI is the curriculum used by the US Navy and SEAL teams, NASA, NOAA, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, CDI Commercial Dive school and many more that rely on the strength of the NAUI instruction methods and the freedom NAUI gives its instructors to build the strongest certification course available.
When you’re in and around this industry as an instructor, you cannot help but be always watching other instructors, their training methods, and their student’s abilities and confidence. While I would never claim to be a better instructor than anyone else, I continue to learn new things about how the industry is evolving, and where corners are being cut for the sake of profit and time. Teaching someone to explore and breathe underwater should not be rushed or skipped over. People do die every year and the majority is human error, which most often could have been avoided were that diver better trained physically and mentally.
Recently, I was on a dive boat that had 6 students completing their 4 check-out dives for certification with a different agency (which I will not name). While I was sitting there after my first dive of the day looking at my tables and compering them to the computer and depth gauge I was testing, I was asked what I was looking at. I showed them my NAUI dive tables and gave them a brief explanation of how they work and what they’re for. When I asked if they had been taught anything about the tables I was told “no, they just told us to use a computer”. Then, he proceeded to ask me to help him read and understand her computer. That student was handed a c-card the next day.
What’s going on in this business? PADI now boasts 29 million certified divers and something like three or four hundred thousand instructors! Yes, they’re the biggest and yes, they’re making big money, but at what cost? Over the years other agencies have popped up with varying degrees of teaching philosophies, including the very different GUE (Global Underwater Explorers). GUE evolved from a very high-risk diving project and teaches a minimalistic, streamlined approach to gear setup which many NAUI instructors, including me, have incorporated into their Open Water use and training. We need to keep evolving to make ourselves better and our students better and safer, not move them through faster and easier so we can certify more and more.
The bottom line here is there is much more to training an Open Water Diver than getting them through the course as quickly as possible and selling them on a massive list of follow-up courses all to make another buck.
In 2016, the “DAN Annual Diving Report” listed the ten most wanted improvements in Scuba as:
- Correct weighting
- Greater buoyancy control
- More attention to gas planning
- Better ascent rate control
- Increased use of checklists
- Fewer equalizing injuries
- Improved cardiovascular health in divers
- Diving more often (or more pre-trip refresher training)
- Greater attention to diving within limits
- Fewer equipment issues / improved maintenance
These improvements are clearly the responsibility of the instructor, and while we’re certifying divers to be autonomous, it’s our job to instill better habits into our students. While the new on-line academic systems most agencies have now adopted are a great introductory tool to get the student started, going right to the pool with very limited classroom instruction is a huge mistake and one I am seeing played out over and over. An instructor should have a vast wealth of knowledge and experience in his head and it’s his/her responsibility to make sure each and every new diver walks away with as much of that knowledge as humanly possible.
At Precision Scuba Instruction our motto is:
“It is more important to train a few students well, than to certify many marginally trained divers”