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Is it necessary to do a spearfishing course?

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alex95

New Member
Jul 17, 2020
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Hi guys,

I've been wanting to get into spearfishing for a while, I've already done a PADI freediving course a while ago and have been thinking about doing a spearfishing course. However, they all seem to be suspended for the foreseeable future due to coronavirus. I was wondering if a course is essential or if I'd be ok to just buy some beginner's equipment and get started? I also don't have anyone to go with, I live in Manchester, but would probably head out to Anglesey or somewhere in North Wales.
Also if anyone could recommend some decent cheapish equipment for a newbie that would be fab, I found a gun on decathlon for £45 but there's no reviews so I've no idea if it's any good or not.

Any help is very much appreciated!
Cheers,
Alex
 

alex95

New Member
Jul 17, 2020
10
2
3
26
Hi guys,

I've been wanting to get into spearfishing for a while, I've already done a PADI freediving course a while ago and have been thinking about doing a spearfishing course. However, they all seem to be suspended for the foreseeable future due to coronavirus. I was wondering if a course is essential or if I'd be ok to just buy some beginner's equipment and get started? I also don't have anyone to go with, I live in Manchester, but would probably head out to Anglesey or somewhere in North Wales.
Also if anyone could recommend some decent cheapish equipment for a newbie that would be fab, I found a gun on decathlon for £45 but there's no reviews so I've no idea if it's any good or not.

Any help is very much appreciated!
Cheers,
Alex
**** I don;t have anyone to go with, so looking for a buddy, if anyones available in the mentioned areas and would like to meet up please let me know!
 

Mr. X

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I'm tempted to quote the father in Swallows and Amazons:
“Better Drowned Than Duffers If Not Duffers Won't Drown”.

If you go, just be careful and don't push yourself or your luck. Are you aware of shallow water blackout, tidal flows and rip currents?

How long is the speargun's barrel? 75cm might be good length for you to start with. Do you have a link to it?
 
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alex95

New Member
Jul 17, 2020
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I'm tempted to quote the father in Swallows and Amazons:


If you go, just be careful and don't push yourself or your luck. Are you aware of shallow water blackout, tidal flies and rip currents?

How long is the speargun's barrel? 75cm might be good length for you to start with. Do you have a link to it?


Thanks for getting back to me! I'd definitely be taking it slowly and staying well inside my comfort zone.

https://www.decathlon.co.uk/spf100-spearfishing-speargun-id_8504129.html
This is the one I mentioned, it's 75cm
I also found a couple that are reduced on a spearfishing website, this ones 60cm https://www.spearfishingstore.co.uk/spearguns/spearguns-rubber/apnea-ghost-60cm-speargun.html

Thanks again for your help!
 

Mr. X

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I've not speared Anglesey, perhaps others who do (there are for members in the area and other s that visit) can comment on optimal speargun length for the area.

75-90cm is generally reckoned optimal for most "normal UK conditions". I bought a 60cm Speargun last year as an experiment but haven't used it enough to form much of an opinion on it yet. I normally use a 75 or a 90. Better to start with a 75 (70cm for a Rob Allen would probably work well, or an 80/85 from any company). 90cm can be too long for some UK conditions and I have a feeling that Anglesey might often fall into that category - but I'd be happy to be corrected on that, if wrong.
 
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Mr. X

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Pity spearfishstore.co.uk don't have anymore of the bigger Apnea Whalers. The 75cm non-roller Apnea Whaler would likely have been a very good choice for you.

How about a Rob Allen Scorpia? Great choice IMHO. I think spearfishing.co.uk sell them. I found them to offer good service but another member is currently not happy with his purchase (a Cressi speargun with bad wishbone/rubber joint(s)).

 
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Mr. X

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Have you got wetsuit, weight belt, float, fins, etc.?
 

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
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I hate to act like an old fart, but I am. I am pretty sure spearfishing courses never existed until very recently. Thousands of people learned to spearfish on their own, or preferable with a buddy who started a few months before they did. I managed to learn in the early 1950s and there were not even scuba courses them, much less freedive or spearfishing courses. Here in Southern California there are thousands of spearfishermen and they are learning without courses. In fact the only courses I've heard of are offered by Freedive instructors who offer to tailor their basic courses a bit more to the needs of spear fisherman rather than line diving. If you've taken a freedive course then you already know the important stuff about SWB, proper breathing, weighting, etc. You are way ahead of the average beginning spear here. Just take it easy and don't start with bluefin tuna. And I strongly recommend the book Blue Water Hunting snd Freediving by Terry Maas.
 
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Stephan Whelan

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So for safety, I'd strongly recommend you doing a freediving course or a specialised spearfishing course. We have a section around it here: https://www.deeperblue.com/spearfishing-training/

We also have the full beginners guide to spearfishing here: https://www.deeperblue.com/beginners-guide-spearfishing/

You'll have plenty of people saying just find a buddy and go for it, that certainly is the way it used to be, but as the recent news from Australia should highlight you would be much better off doing a proper safety course and learning how to do things safely: https://www.deeperblue.com/australian-olympic-snowboarder-alex-pullin-dies-spearfishing/
 
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Mr. X

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Len Jones booklet, sometimes available through South African sources e.g. Rob Allen dealers. Probably Rabitech, Orcas Pelaj dealers too?

There is a new book, available on Amazon too. £15.
 

DivingNomad

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Sep 21, 2015
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Len Jones booklet, sometimes available through South African sources e.g. Rob Allen dealers. Probably Rabitech, Orcas Pelaj dealers too?

There is a new book, available on Amazon too. £15.

What is the book's title please?
 

DivingNomad

Active Member
Sep 21, 2015
205
91
43
Hi guys,

I've been wanting to get into spearfishing for a while, I've already done a PADI freediving course a while ago and have been thinking about doing a spearfishing course. However, they all seem to be suspended for the foreseeable future due to coronavirus. I was wondering if a course is essential or if I'd be ok to just buy some beginner's equipment and get started? I also don't have anyone to go with, I live in Manchester, but would probably head out to Anglesey or somewhere in North Wales.
Also if anyone could recommend some decent cheapish equipment for a newbie that would be fab, I found a gun on decathlon for £45 but there's no reviews so I've no idea if it's any good or not.

Any help is very much appreciated!
Cheers,
Alex

I wouldn't pay attention to anyone who says don't take a course, they are way out of line and out of touch.

Taking a course with a knowledgeable instructor who has had training from a recognized training agency and who has experience in spearfishing including LOCAL ways is the safest and most efficient way to start in the activity. Doing it on your own especially in the challenging conditions in the UK is a hit and miss opportunity where you may survive it or you may get yourself hurt in the process. A beginner spearfishing course will most likely concentrate on the safety part of the activity in addition to introduction to equipment and their proper use as well as special techniques for hunting in the local area with the proper orientation of how to do it in your local area. All of these parts of the course provide you with the safest way to start and it will condense a year or two of experience doing it on your own in a single course while avoiding the mistakes that may cost you a great deal in terms of your own safety and the care of your equipment.

I am a fairly experienced diver with over 40 years of diving experience and I would most certainly hook up with an instructor if I go diving in the UK or even CA in the US if I go there and I want to go diving or spearfishing. I need the local knowledge and an orientation from an expert before my feet touch the water for sure.
 
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Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
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I am a fairly experienced diver with over 40 years of diving experience and I would most certainly hook up with an instructor if I go diving in the UK or even CA in the US if I go there and I want to go diving or spearfishing. I need the local knowledge and an orientation from an expert before my feet touch the water for sure.

Perhaps these courses are common in the UK. But I seriously think you will have a very hard finding one in Southern California. I concur that local knowledge is very important and you should hook up with an experienced local. When a newbie pops up on one of our local forums, we always recommend that he attend a meeting of one of the very active spearfishing clubs in the area and connect with mentors there.
 
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alex95

New Member
Jul 17, 2020
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Have you got wetsuit, weight belt, float, fins, etc.?
I have some fins but will be needing to invest in a wetsuit that suitable for UK waters, I've read 5 or maybe 7 mm if I'm diving colder months should be about right?
 

alex95

New Member
Jul 17, 2020
10
2
3
26
I hate to act like an old fart, but I am. I am pretty sure spearfishing courses never existed until very recently. Thousands of people learned to spearfish on their own, or preferable with a buddy who started a few months before they did. I managed to learn in the early 1950s and there were not even scuba courses them, much less freedive or spearfishing courses. Here in Southern California there are thousands of spearfishermen and they are learning without courses. In fact the only courses I've heard of are offered by Freedive instructors who offer to tailor their basic courses a bit more to the needs of spear fisherman rather than line diving. If you've taken a freedive course then you already know the important stuff about SWB, proper breathing, weighting, etc. You are way ahead of the average beginning spear here. Just take it easy and don't start with bluefin tuna. And I strongly recommend the book Blue Water Hunting snd Freediving by Terry Maas.

Thanks so much for the advice, will try and hunt down a copy of the book!
 

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
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Even though I always recommend people doing a course, freediving course that is, I don't have one myself and with the price of them I probably never will. The excuse "how much is your life worth?" is to me the same as charging more for raw soy than for soy that has been transformed into a cow...

You won't instantly die without a course, and if -never dive alone- I would never be in the water. You can dive alone and without certifications, the margin of error is just a bit smaller as there's no-one to rescue you or for mental support when things go South. And depending on the person the learning curve might be a lot longer. Some people learn best from a teacher that feeds them both the questions and the answers, so that they don't have to think; they just absorb the information and remember it. Like a parrot learning to ask for a cookie.
I'm the opposite, whatever info I get fed I forget, but the things I learn by myself stick forever and with a deep understanding of why and how it works. It takes a lot longer to get to the same level (and in case of safety I have to not only triply check my gear but also my knowledge), but when the situation changes I can adapt because my knowledge and skills are built up from the root. Tbh that makes for a better spearfisher, climber, programmer, farmer, or whatever skill in the end. It's just not the way for everyone, so whether you take a course or not, let it depend on how you learn best and what you want to get out of it.

As for guns, there is always someone successfully hunting the same fish with a pole spear. If you only have one gun you'll eventually learn to use it in every situation.

* I did do a few years of diving training when I was 14, and our instructor focussed on safety in a military way: trying to get us in as many panic-moments as possible, doing blindfolded dives where the buddy is the navigator, etc. It enabled passive reaction to active panic, and this base helps a lot with the moments where normally a fight-or-flight reaction would happen. But it's not something you can learn in a three-day course.
 
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Leander

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You'll have plenty of people saying just find a buddy and go for it, that certainly is the way it used to be, but as the recent news from Australia should highlight you would be much better off doing a proper safety course and learning how to do things safely:
I wonder. How often did you hear about spearfishers dying in the pre-social media times?
Of course a freak wave can catch you by surprise and we're still out there in a wild environment with wild animals, so a lot can go wrong. But looking at social media I get the impression that spearfishing isn't about bringing food to the table anymore, but about that picture where you hold a huge AJ.
I dive alone and my logical brain says not to push it and to keep an extra large safety margin. Training I do on land by apnea walking; not to push myself to more minutes of breath hold, but to calibrate my limits. But I think what keeps me safe the most is that I'm not participating on social media. I have no one to impress.

What would be the reason for most people doing a freediving course. Is it really the safety, or 'to dive deeper'? I mean the reason why they sign up for the course, not what they get out of it.
 
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Stephan Whelan

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I wonder. How often did you hear about spearfishers dying in the pre-social media times?
Well - spearfishing deaths weren't invented as s social media phenomenon. People have been dying spearfishing since it was invented.
Of course a freak wave can catch you by surprise and we're still out there in a wild environment with wild animals, so a lot can go wrong.
Agreed - however, most common issues in spearfishing are 1) pushing yourself too far and having a blackout 2) overweighting and being negatively buoyant above 10m and 3)

But looking at social media I get the impression that spearfishing isn't about bringing food to the table anymore, but about that picture where you hold a huge AJ

Social media is very much about the image which can layer on an additional pressure to dive deeper or longer, but ironically you'll need a buddy to take the photos or video so you're less likely to be diving along.

I dive alone and my logical brain says not to push it and to keep an extra large safety margin. Training I do on land by apnea walking; not to push myself to more minutes of breath hold, but to calibrate my limits. But I think what keeps me safe the most is that I'm not participating on social media. I have no one to impress.

That is totally fine until it isn't. It only takes one day that you are off for some reason (cold, had a argument, ate something wrong, distracted) and it is very easy to have a blackout. What is "safe" for you to do changes on every dive. If something goes wrong you can't save yourself only a buddy can.

What would be the reason for most people doing a freediving course. Is it really the safety, or 'to dive deeper'? I mean the reason why they sign up for the course, not what they get out of it.
I've spoken to a lot of spearos taking freediving courses - most start the course wanting to dive deeper however everyone leaves the course with a strong appreciation that safety is key along with buddy diving together, breathing properly and weighting themselves correctly.

I'll try to get @ImmersionFD to join the conversation and he teaches almost exclusively spearos in Florida and is regarded as a spearfishing safety expert.

In the meantime watch these two videos - I've seen Ted from Immersion Freediving use them in his talks before - both show blackouts whilst spearfishing - neither pushing themselves very hard and luckily had buddies there otherwise they both would have been dead.


 

Leander

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Agreed with everything you said. But add to it that only a buddy who is *alert, competent and within reach* can save you. So far the only times I saw divers together was when they were in the boat (or taking the mandatory big fish picture).
Personally I rather know that no one has my back than a sense of safety that might be false.
I think it's also important to know that if you dive enough, with or without a buddy, one day the sea will take you. If you're lucky you die of old age before that day arrives.

Of course people died spearfishing before social media and youtube. But now everyone has a camera strapped to their head, and no one seems to be uploading videos of them taking a little parrotfish in the shallows. It's all about that -35m grouper or the big AJ. The social expectation and -pressure makes people believe that they too have to dive deep and extreme. Heck, people even started calling spearfishing a 'sport'.

I recall one of Bill's posts where he stated that the shallower he can get fish the better. Now that is wise, but it won't get him to the cover of a magazine or 10k youtube hits.

If you can spend the money then by all means do a course, (unfortunately whenever something is about safety the price goes up), but don't see it as a fix-all, because in the end the survivability factor fully depends on how well your logical processor works. Know what you're doing, and why, how. Understand the calculations and reasoning behind the theories and techniques you hear and learn about. It's true for me as someone who self-teaches, but also for someone who takes a course. Factor in the risks and don't ever go beyond what you are comfortable with. And if you're not comfortable with possibly not coming home one day, then don't go spearfishing.
 
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