What is Technical Diving? What isn’t it?
Technical diving is scuba diving’s “extreme” sport. Basically, taking qualified and experienced divers beyond the recreational diving limits of 40m/130ft. But, it’s really more than that.
The definitions really differ between the diving organizations, but in general, consider technical diving as any sort of diving (except commercial diving) that allows a diver to safely exceed recreational dive limits by using advanced training procedures and equipment. Although exact definitions vary, overhead environment diving such as caverns, caves, wrecks and under ice and so on, are considered technical diving, particularly when beyond the light zone or more than 40m/130ft from the surface linearly.
Generally, tech dives could include:
Dives exceeding the recreational dive limit of 40m/130ft.
Dives not allowing a direct ascent to the surface
Diving in an overhead environment like caves/caverns, shipwrecks, etc. beyond 130ft/40m
Using enriched air (Nitrox) above 40 percent, trimix or other special gases, like helium
OK, so what “isn’t” technical diving?
Technical diving is not scientific, military, or commercial diving. Technical diving is recreational diving – it’s done for fun. It’s a “sport” after all right?
Simply going beyond recreational limits is not technical diving. Any recreational diver can descend beyond 40m/130ft., or stay down long enough to exceed a decompression limit. Divers do this all the time, but that doesn’t make us “technical divers”. Does it make us careless? Sure. Reckless? Maybe. But not a tech diver.
So how is it different? Technical diving involves planned dives that exceed the recreational limits. Technical dives involve a fair amount of specialized equipment that alleviates some of the risk involved in exceeding those limits. The intent is to always have the gear and skill set you need to bring yourself, and another diver, back to the surface safely in the event of a problem.
Tech diving isn’t for everyone, to be sure, but for those who are up for the challenge… keep reading.
Why do I want to be a tech diver?
Tech diving not only has more risk, but it requires significantly more effort, discipline and yes, equipment. It’s not for everyone, and you can be an accomplished, top-notch diver your entire life without ever making a “tech dive”.
That said, there are divers who want to visit places underwater that relatively few people can. Many outstanding, untouched wrecks lie at depths well below 130ft/40m. Deep reefs have creatures you don’t find in the shallows. Some people enjoy the challenge and focus tech diving requires. Still others love being involved with cutting edge diving technology.