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Students wanting to use their own equipment in OW classes
tstormdiver - 3/20/2015 6:00 AM
Category: Equipment
Replies: 10

A hot button topic on another forum: Students that want to use their own equipment in OW classes. My Shop’s policy is that with mask, fins & snorkel, is fine as long as it fits & is functional, is fine. With Regulators & BC’s, we must at least inspect it (no charge) to make sure it is safe. If not safe, then it must be serviced & brought up to safe standards before it can be used. If the prospective student can show proof that the equipment has been serviced within the past 2 years, then it will be allowed. We have had people try to bring in & use equipment that has not been used or serviced in decades (yes, decades). Hoses dry rotted, o-rings rotted, inflator hoses with wear holes in it, the regulator only held together by corrosion..... I am the service technician, as well as an instructor, I’ve seen it. Yes, there are some people that get upset about this policy, and we do try to be reasonable about the policy, but safety must absolutely come first.

I can see where many shops may try to take advantage of policies like this & can also see where people can see this as only a money grab. In our shop, that really is not the idea behind it, but I can see where it may be construed as such. Any thoughts?
WarmWaterTurner - 3/20/2015 6:36 AM
Sounds like a good policy to me. Frankly, I prefer for students to use their own equipment - after inspection of course - since that is what they will be diving with. Skills like regulator retrieval, equipment on the bottom and weight system management are best learned to the point of being a muscle memory level activity. Also to be honest - class grade equipment is not always the best or top of the line. Our shop wants the Instructors in the best and most current equipment with the hope that the student will move in the same direction when considering a purchase. But if they show up with their own kit - we are willing to consider its usage.
Greg - 3/20/2015 7:46 AM
I completely agree with a policy like that. As the instructor, you are resonsible for the student during training. And if the equipment they are using is crap, and a problem occurs, you’re the one expected to step in and help. I like the idea of the student using their own equipment, since it will help them become more familiar with it, but it should be in good working order.
Eric_R - 3/20/2015 5:02 PM
Your policy is great. Telling the students that they can use the gear but it needs to be checked out will instill confidence in their decision to do their cert through you. I understand shops wanting to make a sale but they also have to have certified divers that may want to do more courses so they may get another chance to sell gear. I understand EskimoBluDay’s feeling of being pressured into buying gear that you don’t need. I don’t dive with a computer and it hasn’t kept me from diving they way I want to dive. I have way more confidence in my gear then several of my buddies that have the latest and greatest.
LatitudeAdjustment - 3/20/2015 6:05 PM
I like your policy. My wife’s shop used cheap rental gear for classes. The open water check outs were to be in Cayman, when I asked about her using my travel weight BP&W they said absolutely not. Despite them being a NJ shop they didn’t sell BP&W’s and didn’t want their students seeing them.

Turned out to be a non-issue when their DM hit my wife with an AL80 and she lost faith in their shop. We still went to Cayman, I dove and she snorkeled.
tstormdiver - 3/20/2015 9:15 PM
What a terrible experience, Latitude. I hope your wife did or eventually will try again with a shop or instructor that is passionate about diving. Unfortunately the dive industry is full of very good & terrible shops & instructors.
geogator - 3/23/2015 11:25 AM
Although I’m not a cave diver, I’ve been diving a BP/W since I finished OW cert in 2011. However, when I took my rescue class last spring, the instructor told me that I couldn’t use my BP/W and had to do the class in a jacket BCD that the shop supplied. Until then, the only other time I’d actually dove with a jacket after OW cert was at EPCOT where you have to use their equipment. (except for your mask) I wasn’t happy about the situation and the instructor (who stated that he’s not a fan of BP/Ws) gave me some grief over why I use one in the first place if not caving. His argument was that most folks I would likely encounter in my type of non-cave diving would probably not be in BP/W setups so I should be more familiar with diving in those other BCDs if I ever had to do a rescue. While I can appreciate the first part of his statement, I disagree about not letting me use my own setup since that’s what I’ll most likely be wearing in a potential rescue scenario. My argument was since I’m already extremely comfortable and familiar with my own gear, I could focus more of my attention on the person in trouble vs. having to also manage being in an unfamiliar rig while performing a rescue. He was nice enough, however, to loan me a jacket for a week and a half in between my pool work and the open water skills date so I could get some practice dives in at a local spring just to get used to wearing one again. While I did fine in the class, it was still a bit awkward not having things exactly where I’m used to having them and the whole episode’s still left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth since then.
tstormdiver - 3/23/2015 12:54 PM
As for BP/W, vs a traditional BC, I am on the fence. I dive both for different reasons. A traditional BC for most recreational teaching & BP/W for technical diving. As an instructor, so as not to confuse the OW students- any students above that, I would expect them to know or accept it, if that is what is presented. I have taught some recreational classes in doubles (mostly deep courses). The only real issue a student (especially a brand new OW diver) might have may be manipulating the shoulder harnesses (of a 1 piece webbing). Can it be learned? Of courseit can, if the instructor is familiar with the configuration. The biggest push back (whether right or wrong) for instructors letting students use BP/W, is non- familiarity with the configuration.
fpsodiver - 5/07/2015 11:12 AM
Sounds like an excellent policy to me. The shop that I DM for encourages students to use their own gear so that they become familiar with it during training. Like you, we require that the equipment be in good working order. If not, we supply gear that can be used for free(included with class).