How Do I Learn to Scuba Dive? From Huron Scuba in Ann Arbor Michigan
   
 
Want to know how to learn to scuba dive? Start here!
When you're just starting out, the process of becoming a certified scuba diver seems like a bewildering mix of acronyms, classes, textbooks, & jargon. But it's easy to learn to dive! Here's how to choose the classes & courses you'll need to become a certified diver.
Discover Scuba Tryout Session
If you're still wondering if scuba diving is for you, sign up for one of our "Discover Scuba" classes and in just over an hour you'll be breathing underwater in a pool under the watchful eye of a trained Instructor! We schedule these sessions year round - just call or stop by and pay a small class fee to sign up (it can be credited towards any class if you sign-up within two days of the Discover Scuba session). If you love it (and most people do), then the next step is...
 
Step 1: Choose Your Course
Choose your format and date for knowledge sessions and pool dives (classroom & confined water). This is Part 1 of your training, and will include home study, classroom discussions, and skill development and practice in an indoor pool with a certified PADI Instructor. You must provide your own personal snorkeling equipment (you get unlimited exchange for fit privileges while in training!).

Any of these options will prepare you for the next step. Check out the schedules to choose your course view details on expected costs. Also, check out the Course Outlines page for a preview of your individual class schedule.

Option 1: Weeknights
Regularly scheduled weeknight class. Prepare using the PADI home-study book or CD-ROM, watch the video or DVD, then attend six evening sessions that meet twice a week from 6 pm - 10:30 pm. Pool sessions at the Ann Arbor Public Schools or Saline Recreation Center. Choose your course from the available year-round classes!

Option 2: Weekend Executive Course
This fits the same material as our regularly scheduled weeknight class, but all in one weekend. Prepare using PADI textbook/video or multimedia CD-ROM, attend a Friday evening knowledge review session, then do two days of pool dives on a weekend.  Pool sessions at Eastern Michigan University or Canton Recreation Center.  Choose your course from the available year-round classes!

Option 3: Private Course
The ultimate in flexibility for busy people! Schedule a course just for yourself, or with a small group of friends & family. Prepare home-study using PADI textbook/video or multimedia CD-ROM, then schedule a knowledge review session & start diving in the pool! See description of course fees. Estimated Instructor hours required: 12 to 18 hours (depends greatly on student ability, home-study preparation, and number of students). Training continues until, in Instructor's judgment, student has mastered required material and skills and is ready to do Open Water Certification dives. To schedule, email us, or call the shop & speak to the owner - Brian Bondy.
 
Step 2: Reserve Your Spot
Start Today! Call us at 734-994-3483, click the "Sign up!" link next to the class you want on the website, email us at webcontact@huronscuba.com , or stop by the shop to sign up for your class and pick up your course materials. Get started today!
 
Step 3: Pool and Class Work
Have fun learning to dive in the pool! We keep class sizes small & play pool games to keep it fun! Successful completion of the class & confined water sessions will make you ready for your Open Water Certification dives. Examples of detailed course schedules are shown in the generic Course Outlines page.
 
Step 4: Open Water Certification Dives
During the Open Water Dives, you'll demonstrate the skills you learned & practiced in the pool. Complete these dives (it will take 2 half-days) & you'll earn your "C-card" - the license to learn that shows everyone that you can get air fills, rent gear, go on a dive trip, and dive independently (with a buddy of course) without an Instructor's supervision. Remember, if your invest in a scuba package (including at least a BC, regulator, octopus, & gauges) before you do your Open Water Certification dives, you save $100!

Option 1: Local Dives
Do your Open Water Dives locally with Huron Scuba (we use Gilboa Quarry for most of our training. It's about 30 minutes east of Toledo, a 1:45 drive from Ann Arbor). You can choose a Friday afternoon/Saturday morning session, or a Saturday afternoon/Sunday morning session. See our Open Water Certification Checklist for details... "Cert dives" are scheduled throughout the spring, summer, and fall - choose your date here!

Option 2: Vacation Dives
You can do your Open Water Dives on your vacation! This is called a REFERRAL, and means you can skip the quarry and go straight to the warm, clear waters of your tropical destination. Use our travel specialists to help you choose a resort & dive operator, then request a referral from your class & pool instructor. See the PADI Referral Checklist for details.  You can also do your open water cert dives on any of our group dive trips - this way, you get the best of both worlds: a familiar instructor and an exciting destination!
 
Step 5: Go Diving!
After completing your Open Water Certification dives, you can join us on store fun dives, weekend Great Lakes charters, group trips to tropical locations - all while expanding your skills & knowledge with fun, interactive continuing education classes such as Advanced Scuba Diver, Underwater Photography, Rescue Diver, River Diver, and so much more! See our Course Catalog for all our current offerings.
 
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions about learning to scuba dive.
 
Is it hard to learn to scuba dive?
Answer: Most graduates remark that learning scuba diving was far easier than expected.  Generally speaking, the more comfortable you are in the water and the more effort you dedicate to learning scuba diving, the smoother the learning process.  Almost everyone, including future instructors, has personal challenges during classes, and afterwards feels proud of what they've accomplished.  Because of Huron Scuba's low student-instructor ratios, we can easily adapt for individual students' learning challenges.  If a particular skill is difficult for one or two students, those students will work individually with the instructor or assistant with until they master that skill.  In the meantime, the rest of the class can review or work on new skills.  As part of Huron Scuba's Learning Agreement, as long as a student is giving their best effort, Huron Scuba will stick with that student and schedule additional pool sessions until the Instructor and the student feel they have met the requirements of the course.  (One additional pool session is included at no charge; there may be an additional charge for pool time and instruction.)

Do I have to meet any special qualifications or considerations before I can participate in a scuba class?
Answer: Diving is a relaxing activity, but gear, changing water conditions, and unplanned emergencies may require significant physical effort to overcome safely.  You should be comfortable in water too deep to stand, and in reasonably good physical condition.  You demonstrate this to us in part by completing the required swimming skills by the time you finish the course (swim 225 yards any stroke with no time limit and complete a 10-minute survival float).  In addition, you should be in good health with no medical condition that is incompatible with diving.  We may require a physician's approval if you have a borderline condition.

Is scuba diving expensive?
Answer: The actual cost of learning to dive and continuing to dive can vary tremendously, depending on what gear you want to purchase or rent, and where you want to dive.  However, most people find it is less expensive than hobbies like golf or snow skiing.  Huron Scuba believes in giving you the straight scoop up front, so we tell you what you should expect to spend on the "basics" (entry level training & personal gear), and give you a range of what you could spend if you go whole hog.

How long does a tank last?
Answer: This is one of the most common questions - and the only answer is, "it depends!"  How fast you breathe down that tank of air (not oxygen!) depends on your depth, muscle mass, fitness level, comfort in the water, how hard you're working, and what size tank you're using.  On an "easy" dive to 30 - 40 feet, different divers may get 40 - 80 minutes on a single 80 cubic foot tank.  The same dive to twice the depth should result in half as much dive time from the same tank.  The more experience and training you get, the longer your air will last!

My ears hurt when I dive to the bottom of a pool or fly in an airplane.  Won't they hurt when I scuba dive?
Answer: You will learn and practice proper techniques for equalizing your ears to compensate for the increased pressure underwater.  If you have problems in airplanes, you may find the techniques you learn in the course will help you there, too.  Very few people are excluded from diving because their ears just won't equalize.

I'm afraid of sharks - don't they attack scuba divers?
Answer: In general, attacks by marine animals on divers are extremely rare.  Some creatures will react defensively if you disturb them (keep your fingers out of that eel's den!), or they may be interested in any fish you have just speared.  Few species of sharks are considered dangerous and even those are highly unlikely to mistake scuba divers for their usual prey of seals, sea lions, and large fish.  Our most experienced instructor has logged over 800 dives in the supposedly dangerous Pacific Ocean off California, with no injuries and only one shark sighted.  A diver is more "at risk" driving to a dive site than on the actual dive.

Is scuba diving dangerous?
Answer:  Potentially, yes.  But, well-trained and conscientious divers have a very low risk of dive accidents.  Huron Scuba's courses exemplify "Dive Safety through Education."  You will learn the potential risks of scuba diving and how to reduce, prevent, and deal with these risks.  Continuing your dive education by taking Advanced, Specialty, and Rescue courses is a great way to further increase your dive safety and enjoyment.

I wear contact lenses or glasses - can I dive with them?
Answer:  Diving is a visual sport - if you need more than the mildest vision correction above water, you'll want it underwater.  If you wear contacts, you can dive with them with minimal risk of loss.  If your contacts are very expensive, try wearing disposable soft contact lenses just for diving; even if one were lost the cost would be low.  If you don't wish to wear contacts, you can order corrective lenses for your dive mask for about $38-60 per eye.  As far as vision correction surgery (RK or Lasik correction), the jury is still out, but DAN research indicates there is minimal risk of eye injuries while diving, so long as you properly equalize your mask.

Do people really dive in Michigan?
Answer:  Absolutely!  The Great Lakes have some of the best historical shipwreck diving in world.  Combine the huge variety of wrecks with no need to rinse salt off your gear, and you've got a winner.  Michigan's Underwater Preserves protect wrecks from treasure hunters, so there is always something good for the next diver to see.  Inland lakes and quarries are great locations for tune-up dives, after-work jaunts, certification dives, and fish observation.  The worst day of diving is better than the best day at work!


How long will it take to become a certified diver?
Answer: The course consists of three parts: Academics (classroom), Confined Water (pool), and Open Water (lake or quarry).  Many dive shops schedule their classes to meet one evening a week for 7 to 9 weeks, plus certification dives.  Huron Scuba wants to make the most efficient use of your time, so our students do "homework" using a textbook/workbook or interactive CD-ROM, then attend three interactive class and pool sessions on weekends, or meet two evenings a week for three weeks.  This reduces driving time, waiting around, and transitioning from classroom to pool during several sessions; we use this "found" time to practice real-world scuba skills and play games designed to make you a comfortable diver.  For the final step, we schedule Open Water Certifications on weekends to meet our students' scheduling needs.  Private classes can also be scheduled if you're in a real time crunch.

Where and when do scuba classes meet?
Answer: The academic "homework" can be completed in the comfort of your home, on your own schedule.  The exact schedule of academics and pool work depends on the particular class.

How old do you have to be?
Answer: The minimum age is 10 for Junior certification through a scheduled class; this means you must dive with a parent or an adult designated by your parent.  For children age 10 and 11, we recommend private classes.  The minimum age for regular Scuba Diver certification is 15.  We have taught students from ten through their 60's, and know divers who continue diving into their sixties and seventies.  No matter what age you are, you must be in reasonable physical condition. 

What equipment do I need for the scuba class?
Answer: You need to provide your personal gear - that includes a mask suitable for scuba diving, snorkel, fins, booties and open-heel fins, and of course your swimsuit and towel.  For pool sessions, Huron Scuba will provide all other scuba gear, tanks, weights, and a wetsuit (some other shops let you freeze or charge as much as $30 for this warmth).

What is the cost of the scuba course?
Answer: See the class page for a complete listing of all costs you may incur.

How do I sign up for the class?
Answer: E-mail us, or phone us at (734) 994-3483 to find out if there's space available in the class you want.  Because of our small class size, we will hold a spot for you only when we receive your non-refundable deposit.  The balance is due two weeks prior to the first day of class and becomes non-refundable at that point.

Where are the open water training sessions held?
Answer:  Open Water Certification dives are scheduled on weekends throughout the summer and fall to meet our students' needs.  The dives are conducted at Gilboa Quarry near Findlay, OH (1 hr 50 minutes south of Ann Arbor).  See the class page for dates.

I'm going south on my vacation - can I do my open water training in warm water?
Answer:  This is called a "referral" certification and is very common.  Huron Scuba will give you a form stating that you've met the requirements of the academic and confined water training, and that you're ready for open water certification.  We can also help you find an instructor or dive shop at your vacation destination; they will charge you for the certification dives at their own rates.

How much does the basic gear cost?
Answer: Depending on the quality and features you want, expect to spend the following on personal gear: mask ($45 - 105), snorkel ($30 - 60), fins ($70 - 189 for open-heel fins), and booties ($40 - 75 to go with open heel fins).  Our students get unlimited "exchange-for-fit" privileges - and our staff brings a bag of equipment to the pool to enable "pool-side" exchanges so you continue to get the most out of your training. 

How about the rest of the stuff?
Answer: Most resort dive centers & operators rent scuba gear, tanks, weights, cameras, and other items, so you can rent while deciding what equipment you wish to purchase.  Making the correct initial purchase by working with Huron Scuba's staff can save you money & hassles later, by preventing the need to "trade-in" for gear more suitable for your style of diving.  Purchasing at least the minimum recommended quality and features could cost approximately: buoyancy compensator ($350 - 650), regulator set ($400 - 1200), and gauges  ($250 - 400).  Tanks and weights are widely available for rent.  Other popular scuba accessories include dive computers ($250 - 800+), knives ($40 - 90), and underwater lights ($35 - 100).  Wetsuits vary in price, depending on quality and thermal protection offered, between $125 - 400.  Drysuits with required undergarments start at $900 - 2000.  As you can see, there is no limit to what you could spend on scuba diving, but wise purchases and careful gear maintenance will protect your investment & give you years of good service.


 

Huron Scuba, Snorkel & Adventure Travel Inc. 4816 Jackson Road Suite D, Ann Arbor, MI 48103 
Phone: 734-994-3483 Fax: 734-994-1597 Apply to join Huron Scuba's staff! Application form in PDF
Regular Store Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-7pm, Saturday 10am-5pm.  webcontact@huronscuba.com