A beginner’s course teaches all of the basic in-water and surface skills that you need in order to be a safe diver. A diver must complete and master these skills prior to certification. All of these skills will be practised with an experienced and qualified instructor during a confined water training session, where your instructor will demonstrate the skills. You will then practise these skills with your instructor until you are both comfortable with your performance.

Surface Skills

Equipment Assembly, Adjustment, Preparation, Donning and Disassembly

This involves the proper scuba diving equipment set-up and inspections that are required when preparing for a dive. You will also learn how to safely don and secure your equipment using proper buddy procedures and how to take care of your equipment once you have de-kitted.

Pre-Dive Buddy Check

One of the most important things you can do in preparation for a dive is to ensure that your buddy’s equipment is in good working order and correctly donned. Doing this before every dive is an excellent preventative measure to avoid any unwanted incidents from occurring. A simple way to remember the steps is by using the acronym BWRAF – B-BCD, W-weights, R-releases, A-air, F-final check. (Begin With Review And Friend.)

Deep Water Entry

There are many different techniques, but the most common ones include the backward-roll: used whilst diving from boats; the giant stride: used to enter from the ledge of a quarry or live-aboard and; the seated entry: used as an alternative method by disabled divers.

Neutral Buoyancy Check

Fine tune your weighting to achieve perfect buoyancy on every dive.

Snorkel to Regulator Exchange

To conserve air in your cylinder you would use your snorkel at the surface to locate your point of descent. This skill will teach you to effortlessly locate your regulator and clear it prior to descending.

Remove and Replace Weight System

Practising this skill will allow you to make minor adjustments to your weights in the water, rather than climbing back onto the boat for example.

Remove and Replace Scuba Unit

This skill will prepare you to make minor adjustments to your kit at the surface, for instance, if your cylinder is not secure and slips from the BCD or if you discover that some of your instruments are trapped.

Shallow Water Skills

Regulator Removal, Recovery and Clearing

There may be certain instances where a diver’s regulator may be removed or dislodged underwater. This may be caused by an accidental nudge from a fellow diver or simply from rinsing out a dry mouth. The fact remains that the second stage will flood when removed from the diver’s mouth. This skill will equip the diver with the ability to easily retrieve and clear the regulator whilst underwater, allowing them to continue the dive without having to surface.

Mask Removal, Replacement and Clearing

This skill will prepare you to adjust and clear a mask that floods due to hair being caught in the skirt, preventing a proper seal. Sometimes a diver will want to deliberately partially flood their mask in order to defog it.

Air Depletion Exercise Combined with Alternate Air Source

In the unlikely event of you or your buddy running out of air, this skill will teach you how to recognise the feeling of air depletion and how to correctly and safely secure your buddy’s alternate air source to allow you to make a safe ascent.

Free Flow Regulator

Downstream regulators have a fail-safe design where, if the system were to malfunction, it would do so with the valve in an open position, causing the regulator to free flow. During this skill you will learn how to effectively breathe from the forceful stream of air provided by the regulator, allowing you to make a safe ascent.

Deep Water Skills

Controlled Descent

This skill will teach you how to do a comfortable feet-first descent, focusing on orientation and time-keeping procedures used for logging your dives. You will also learn how to equalise your ears correctly on descent to prevent ear injury. This involves equalising the gas space in the middle ear by “popping”. (There are various methods of achieving equalisation – a suitable method should be found and practised regularly).

Buoyancy Control

Typically achieved by mastering fin pivots where the diver balances on their fin tips whilst controlling their position in the water with only lung volume changes. This skill will improve your air consumption, help to prevent you from causing damage to the fragile aquatic environment and teach you how to control your buoyancy orally, in case of an LPI malfunction.

Controlled Emergency Ascent

This skill will prepare you to make a safe, independent ascent from no deeper that 12m, in the unlikely event that you run out of air and your buddy is further away than what the surface is.

Hovering

Mastering the skill of buoyancy is vital to ensure that tasks like ascents, descents and safety stops are done with ease and become second nature. It is also the foundation for future courses like photography.

No Mask Swim

This skill will prepare you to comfortably deal with a broken mask strap where you may be forced to ascend without wearing a mask.

Weight Belt Removal

How to safely remove and replace your weight belt in the event that your weight belt comes loose and falls off.

Scuba Unit Removal

This skill develops a self-rescue technique that would allow you to manage entanglement if your buddy is not within arm’s reach.

Controlled Ascent

Procedures on how to safely and slowly ascend after a dive and how to execute a safety stop.

Alternate Air Source Ascent

Procedures on how to safely ascend as a buddy pair in an out-of-air situation.

Other skills that will be developed will include problem management skills like cramp removal where you will learn how to remove your own cramp and the cramps of your dive buddies, and tired diver tow where you will learn to assist a diver to shore or to a boat if they become unable to do so from exhaustion.