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Becoming an Apneist

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Just visiting...
Aug 26, 2001
I don't believe a spearo is made, but is actually born into a soul that makes for a great hunter and suiter of the aquatic world. I believe it takes more than just ambition and the idolizing of a few figures in the media. I've seen so many people cling to the "cool" idea of toting a sleek weapon underwater after impressive adversaries, but only to burn out months and several hundred dollars later.

Spearos seem to be of a select breed. Most are even considered as the elite of marine apneists. Elite defining the level of symbiosm they share with the life under the ocean's surface. There's a connection there. They go way beyond evaluating themselves and their ability to adapt to such an extreme environment. They let their surroundings mold them and determine their behavior. They take humility to a whole new level.

I don't believe a spearo is self righteous. I don't believe a spearo holds records over his brothers. I believe a spearo truly seeks to maintain that connection with the world that gives him life. They seriously have the ocean in their veins. They are called to it and cannot be without it.

Some see it as a weakness; others as a gift.

I believe we are different than freedivers. I don't think there is a textbook out there that will make YOU an expert spearo. I don't think there is one person that can show you the "ropes". I think you find yourself on your own and partially as an "apprentice".

Spearos disobey the number one rule of freediving quite often. Many see this as irresponsible and childish. Spearos see it differently. I believe it's that they know their limits and have no need to push the envelope like freedivers do. When those thresholds ARE to be played with, their intelligence heeds them to call for backup. I think spearos are incredibly in-tune with their abilities, but for the most part perform way within them.

Becoming an apneist in the graceful form of a hunter is a tremendous accomplishment, but then again, it's not really an accomplishment.... you're constantly learning. It's kinda like an unlimited supply of information about yourself and the ocean, and in my most humble opinion can only be found through time spent in practice.

Learn it, Love it, Hunt it,

Anderson York
Denver, Colorado USA

note: Please note that spearfishing should never be performed alone, but if you take that chance you must realize that you are putting yourself in a possibly lethal situation. Don't risk your life over a fish or your gear. It's just not worth it. :naughty
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I think the issue of training hasn't been that great a concern for apnea game gatherers in the past.

My observation has been that most are more concerned with travel and the very latest speargun on the market more so than training to be a safe freediver.

But I think that this is slowly changing. Most freediving hunters come from the old school of freediving, and I don't think really gave it a second thought regarding training.

But as newer members of the tribe come into the fold, the availability of training techniques and clinics I think is going to see a changing of the guard, so to speak, in what is considered the most popular activity while freediving.

When I attended Kirk's clinic in October 2001, all but 2 of us were actual freediving hunters.

That says a lot about the changing of the mindset within the tribe.

Let's hope and promote this continuing change in mindset by getting more freediving hunters to attend these types of clinics where they can learn the full gamut of information they will need to become safe and successful freedivers.
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After I read these posts, I kinda figured I'd take some time and try the looong view on this. So...

That a spearo or an apneist is the pinnacle of freediving is a bit much, though it's certainly true that a good spearo incorporates many of the techniques of the good freediver, herein called apneist. I think an apneist uses many of the same techniques that a good spearo uses. Or they should. This one does.:king

I agree that there is a definite spirituality inherent in diving, be it anpneist, spearo or SCUBA diver for that matter, and I manage all tre' ;) That I've chosen to be principally a hunter, freedive-wise is a choice not so much for the meat on the table thing, though that's one of the beauties about it, but that I wasn't really exposed to the diving for numbers-thing until about 20 years ago by which time I was fully involved in hunting and the direction I thought I was headed didn't have a lot to do with riding a sled and sure as hell didn't incorporate floating in a pool face-down.

All that said, I recognize that each individual (diver too) get's what they get out of diving. If they put in 110% and are lucky enough to get some good education from either their more experienced peers or a structured agency the chances are very much in their favor that they'll enjoy what it is that they do. They might even get good at it. A few get really good and can develop a following and are placed in positions to influence others both experienced and new. Those individuals will then usually just keep on doing what they're doing and commercial success will slowly come, or they'll blow it all out of proportion and bugger it up. Trouble is, the ones that bugger it up bugger it for everyone, but then that's the way it is in most things, I think.

I also think that there's a newfound respect for training as pitched by several shops I'm associated with, for developing breathold skills and enhancing the stopwatch, hockey or dinner fare. But to float that the "old school" grads haven't or don't recognize the benefits of training is pretty far off the mark. (I almost said ignorant, but it's a new year...:hmm ) Anyone who is enjoying any success in both individual or more public venues of hunting has researched and enlisted ANY manner of training and education available. And when it wasn't available, we made it up as we went along. I'll be so bold as to say that many facets of apnea diving utilize techniques gleaned from spearos. No less than the latest apnea cause celebre', Pipin went this route. I dare say that 2002 Worlds Spearfishing champ is doing likewise.

What I'm getting at is that I'll agree that doing the spearo thing entails much spirituality and life affirmation. And practice. And that diving for numbers is fine and dandy too, if that's what floats your boat. But is one better than the other and is a diver lessened by his time-in and lack of a formal training? Certainly not.

Yellow cards and thanks you two. :ycard Let's not go pissing in the wind to see who gets wet.

Old school, trained and proud of it.
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No offense was intended - I learned my lesson the hard way getting sandwiched between you two :D

I apologize if my remarks were off the mark. It was an observation I had made so far - and thus only had that much information at my disposal.

Thanks for clearing up this issue for me so that I am more well informed. It helps in making future observations and chats with other spearo's...
Hey Sven - congratulations on your flawless use of "bugger".

It has been a key element of the British vocabulary for many years and I'm glad that it's finally getting some attention over in America.

You should try using some derivatives such as "buggeration".


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Originally posted by icarus pacific
That a spearo or an apneist is the pinnacle of freediving is a bit much, though it's certainly true that a good spearo incorporates many of the techniques of the good freediver, herein called apneist. I think an apneist uses many of the same techniques that a good spearo uses. Or they should. This one does.:king

Svenny, my term "elite" was not defining spearos as the pinnacle inhabitants of freediving. I was simply stating that my usage of "elite" was in regards to the relationship(symbiosm) that a spearo has with the creatures they share their space with. :hmm

Originally posted by Cliff Etzel
I think the issue of training hasn't been that great a concern for apnea game gatherers in the past.

My observation has been that most are more concerned with travel and the very latest speargun on the market more so than training to be a safe freediver.

But I think that this is slowly changing. Most freediving hunters come from the old school of freediving, and I don't think really gave it a second thought regarding training.

I'm trying to link your statements together... "in the past" and "My observation". I know you're a grandfather and all :D but have you really been there back in the days when they were called "apnea game gatherers?" Actually, were they ever called that? :confused: Anyways, I think(and pardon my assumption) that you're trying to say(as I partially stated) that most "new" spearos are caught up in the gear and style of a spearfisherman and less in the details of what it takes to become a good one. I remember seeing pictures of my Dad in his old mustang w/ a long board on top. I always got excited when I saw this and wanted to know more about surfing, but he could never answer my questions because he never really learned how to surf. :D

I think your suggestion of education is a valid point, but please understand that becoming a good "apneist" will not necessarily make you a better spearo. Carlos Eyles, Pipin Ferraras, and many other great hunters have stated ever so eloquently how being able to hold your breath for record times will do you no good if you can't understand your environment.

Also, I believe that I come from the "old school" of hunters because I have learned almost all that I know from people that have been there before me. I think their advice and their stories have aided my understanding of my personal trial and errors. I owe thanks to everyone who has shared their life as a spearo with me. :)

Gotta run,
I think you make a good point regarding what we learn and how (or from whom)

I use the term "Game gatherers" due to the fact that it's pretty difficult to shoot and abalone or lobster ;)

I refer to the old school based upon my readings of Terry Maas' books and from one of Carlos Eyles books as well.

Referring to "the past" more implies to the fact that from the time I first started freediving (Only 5 years now) there was little, if any, information regarding freediving or spearfishing. Apnea spearfishing was basically unheard of in my part of the country, so what little I learned, I learned by trial and error. Thank god I didn't do myself in based upon what I have learned in the last year or so - I was at a greater risk than I thought.

I totally agree with you regarding the comment about being a good freediver will not necessarily make you a good spearfisherman. They are two different disciplines that, when combined with an understanding of the environment, makes for a true conservationist and sportsman.
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good, better, best?

"becoming a good "apneist" will not necessarily make you a better spearo."

couldn't hurt.

I guess I should have worded it differently, Bill. Obviously you're right, it couldn't hurt, but then again, clear viz, warm water and perfect weather couldn't hurt either. :confused: I'd like to have it all, too.

It's just that not everyone can afford to attend an apnea clinic and they shouldn't feel like they need to attend one to become a great spearo. I think Cliff and I are trying to stress that Safety is the key and should have the utmost priority on any spearos' "to learn list", whether it's by clinic, a trusted website, periodical or word of mouth from a friend/fellow spearo.

I am sure we all agree that by becoming a better apniest, and thus becoming comfortable with this particular discipline, those who spearfish can focus on the techniques that will ensure a successful hunt while reducing the nagging fear in the back of ones mind of whether they are diving within their limits.

By maintaining a regular training regemin, one can become more self sufficient while in the water - and in doing so, bag that big Yellow-tail that one is always dreaming of (mmm - sushi...)

OT - could sushi be considered the official food of freedivers and spearo's? There's nothing like fresh yellow tail right out of the ocean on a rice ball with a sprinkle of soy sauce and a dash of wasabi... ;)

(one away from my 300th post) :wave
Cliff, do you spearfish? :confused:

My favorite is still snapper and lobster ceviche! :t
I've done some - I enjoy a good fillet for dinner like any other spearo - I just don't get out as often as I would like.

Being here in the Pac NW, my speargun is only 75cm Picasso Asegai (which is actually a pretty decent little Euro gun) Main fish around these parts are various types of rockfish and snapper, plus the occasional cabezon and halibut. (Those are the ones I know of right off hand) Huge schools of Rockfish abound along the Southern Oregon Coast, plus abalone along the extreme Southern Oregon Coast.

I hope to get more time in this year - I was pretty busy trying to find work this summer to get out to dive.

Bummer :(
Amen Bill!

As long as five years ago(!) there were a very active bunch of divers in Oregon diving in the Pacific Coast regionals and Worlds. Even before that... :hmm Bill could probably name some for you also. The old school definition as derived from Terry though is appropos, but even then, Terry learned it from the real masters and I think of Al, Wally and the like and along with the Ernsts and other lucky guys still drawing breath and fish. So it's been around for a while. :crutch

And there lies the majority of my angst when I hear from the latest self-endowed guard that "we should do it this way, this way is better or purer, get cert'd, have regulations " and such. Sorry folks, but it's been done. And often better. And the reason you're just now finding it out is that we don't go putting it on billboards and preaching it to those that don't want or need to hear it. We just choose to live it and invite those that truly want to learn to tag along. Respect counts huge.

Thanks for the mad props on my running euro slang, Alastair. Bugger is indeed a subtle and dare I say smooth way to get one's point across, as in buggeration. I'll let this one stand lest the powers that be condemn this to buggatory...

And don't believe that Elvis is all about lobster ceviche... the guy cleaned a plate of abalone so fast I told him to bugger off mine! :p

old school w/ID
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