Dr. Richard Walker gave a very good seminar at EuroTek on how and why divers can move into Tec and with Tec Diving on the rise and different perceptions of what Tec diving actually is many people are unsure where to turn, what they need to do or whether they should even try. A majority of the point and observations in this blog are from Dr. Walker who is a very accomplished GUE Instructor, for more information about Dr. Walker please click here
First you need to ask yourself why you're looking to move into Tec Diving; if your answer is "because it looks cool", it's probably not the best reason your should have. Even if you've climbed up through all of the SCUBA certifications and Tec is the next on the list it's still not a good reason to turn to Tec. Tec is more about exploration; going further then you have been before and in some cases further then anybody has been before. Most people are content with 0-30 meters in clear warm water, which is great! there's nothing wrong with warm water diving but Tec diving can take you past that and get you diving all year round in a much larger variety of places around the world. Because there are different routes you can go with Tec and even more courses to guide you down those routes; you need to collect your thoughts and decide what kind of diver you want to be. You need to look at your goals; are you looking to go deeper then you have ever been, penetrating wrecks that are too advanced for you now or exploring caves.
After you have decided what your personal goals are you need to do some research, there are many different training agencies that offer the courses that you need to look into and decide which is best for you. A simple Google search for 'tech diving training' provides a long list of Instructors and Dive Centres that offer courses.
Along with the training you need to start thinking about what kind of equipment you will need and invariably it's not the first piece of kit that you find. Equipment that looks great might not be the best for your needs and it is much better to do a bit more research then have to buy two pieces of kit because the first doesn't suit your needs. Some equipment will transfer from your recreational kit and online forums are usually good at providing advice is you're ever unsure. Equipment will need to be fairly flexible or modular as you wont be making the same dive over and over again so your equipment will need to reflect your needs in the future. You also need to look after your equipment, SCUBA equipment can put up with a lot of abuse and still function but you should treat it with care; washing it carefully, getting it serviced regularly and storing it carefully.
After you've completed your Tech Course you'll want to go diving but you'll need a team of divers to go diving with. Many Technical Divers will enroll on a course in a group so they all learn the same course at the same time and will continue to dive together in the future. If you're doing your course alone then talk to your Instructor; they will know of other Technical Divers in the area or start a thread on an online forum. There are many Technical Divers who are happy to add another member to their team, they're very friendly and are a very good way of gaining experience.
Experience takes time as a handful of dives will not prepare you for all circumstances, especially if everything goes to plan. You need to dive with others who dive regularly, keep up with current diving techniques and equipment. If you are diving all the time and in different environments then invariably you are going to make some mistakes; this is actually a good thing as long as you learn from them. Diving with as many different people is the best way to gain informal training as people will do things differently to how you were taught that might work well for you. If somebody is diving all of the time then they will have found a more efficient way of completing simple tasks like deploying your dSMB, that you can then add to your repertoire. You will get a look at their equipment and how they use it which will help you when you're buying new kit. With experience you will gain patience, discipline and problem solving skills, essentials for advanced diving. The more time you spend underwater the more relaxed you will be which will prevent almost every incident, if something occurs at depth and you have a ceiling then you will have to fix it underwater. During Decompression dives there will be times when you cannot simply ascend to the surface; you will have ceilings that you cannot ascend past until you complete your deco stop. Being calm and collected at these times is essential because at times you may be carrying gas mixes that can only be used at certain depth ranges. If you don't stow your hoses and second stages neatly then you can easily get muddled up and swap to the wrong mix or snag equipment whilst swimming.