There’s a famous saying in the dive community that goes: “your training is only as good as your diving instructor”. This has not become a commonly used expression for no reason, currently I believe there are much more below standard Instructors roaming around the world than there are Instructors providing a good service. So if you’ve considered doing your PADI Open Water course (or any other beginner course with another organisation such as NAUI, SSI or TDI) then this is the first and most important decision you need to consider.
A good instructor will:
- Detailed briefings and debriefings about your theory and practical work.
- Do some sort of record keeping during every step of the way.
- Use the correct materials provided by the training organisation they use.
- Make sure your medical questionnaire is properly understood.
- Do slow and clear demonstrations of the skills you are expected to learn.
- At no point rush or get impatient with you. An instructor deals with nervous and panicked people on a daily basis, so an experienced instructor should be a master at keeping his calm.
- During every step of your training be easily reachable for questions or any sort of assistance you require. If he gives this role over to a Divemaster then you should ask why he has done that.
- Use a Divemaster for many parts of the course as an assistant, this does not mean the Divemaster should at any point provide you with new instruction.
The best way to scope out both your ability/desire to dive and your dive shop’s commitment to offer good training is by taking on the Discover SCUBA Diving or Try Diving program the shop has on offer. This is a quick program that gives you a confined water experience (pool or pool like conditions) where you wear full SCUBA equipment and experience breathing underwater.
Once you’ve completed the Discover SCUBA Diving program and you’re very much interested in carrying on, I would recommend asking the shop to take you on an open water dive. This is easily added on to your first confined water experience. This time however you will go out and do a full on open water dive conducted either in the ocean or a lake.
By this point you would have noticed 2 things:
- Whether you do or don’t like SCUBA diving.
- You’ll have a definitive opinion on the level or instruction you are receiving.
With this in mind you can make an educated decision on whether you should pursue diving as a whole or simply just try out a different company. And while at the end of the day this is a more lengthy and costly process towards getting your diving certification, it can also save you a lot of money that you would have spent on a bad decision.