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If you’re a new skydiver, you’ve no doubt marveled at them: the ninja-status skydivers who make everything in the sky look effortless. You may rest assured that it takes a lot of jumps to learn to fly that well, but–if you’re ready to put in the work–you can become a great skydiver, too! Here’s what you need to know to grab that airborne brass ring.
Learning to skydive is one of the biggest challenges you’ll ever undertake. Becoming a great skydiver? Now that’s a lifelong project.
We meet plenty of skydivers–here, and at other dropzones–who turn up at the dropzone for their first jump course at the start of the season with the intention of getting into a wingsuit by, say, summer. These guys are generally surprised by the differential between:
Detail-orientation and consistency are harsh mistresses, and both must be served equally–even while you’re actively engaging with those early-jump butterflies, which tend to persist for the first hundred jumps or so. It’s an uphill battle, and you need to be waging it regularly, staying consistent as long as you’re in the sport, so your lifesaving skills don’t get rusty. And, through all of it, you’ve gotta keep your eye on the prize.
Even though it’s more comfortable to jump with people whose skill level matches your own, don’t default to that decision. Instead, seek out jumps with skydivers whose skills are advanced far beyond your own. By all means, be honest about where you are in your progression–but keep in mind that most skydivers are more than willing to share their hard-earned knowledge with their newer brethren. It’ll go far to sharpen your game.
Along those lines: Seek out a mentor. A strong mentoring relationship will help you connect to the answers to your most burning skydiving questions and introduce you to the next steps of your progression.
There will be skills camps on your dropzone’s schedule–as well as the dropzones surrounding you. Take every single one of ’em: canopy piloting courses; Safety Day presentations; 4-Way skills camps; angle hootenannies. Don’t dismiss any discipline out-of-hand; they all have something to offer.
The fast-forward button is your worst enemy in skydiving. It’ll cheat you out of the small victories that will keep you head-over-heels in love with the sport. Letting yourself–or anyone around you–put you on a conveyor belt and crank up the speed will only fling you right out of the joy that’s the whole point of the enterprise.
Becoming a great skydiver can be one of the highlights of your life–so enjoy every step of the way. Take it easy on yourself and love the journey!