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Are you a DIR diver?

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Are you a DIR Diver ? DIR stands for "Doing it Right" and that statement in itself has resulted in an awful lot of nonsense posted on the internet over the years.

 Over the past few years, GUE has distanced itself from DIR. It's easy to understand why. We spent years trying to explain that we didn't want to belittle everyone else and that, in fact, we admire anyone who sets new standards and performs feats of exploration, whomever they are. We don't actually believe we are better than everyone else. We just want to be better than we are. In reality, however, there were just some people within the GUE community who believed that just by having a GUE qualification they WERE better than everyone else. Equally, there are a small but vocal group outside GUE who will never let the past and look for elitism where it doesn't exist. Whilst GUE was an agency that dived in a style that was considered "DIR" they were not the only agency and needed their own identity. So for a lot of reasons GUE firmed up it's own identity and let the DIR noise die down. Please note that summary is my own and not any kind of GUE statement. 

Well, I AM a GUE diver. and I'm very proud of that. Being a GUE diver is easy. All you have to do is dive within the GUE standards. You don't even need to train with GUE. There are divers who have never done a GUE course that I would consider a GUE diver. Indeed, there may well be GUE trained divers I would consider to NOT be GUE Divers. 

However, the question of whether I am a DIR diver is a little more complex. I don't actually think being a DIR diver is a binary status. How can I be "Doing it Right" if I am still improving. There are plenty of GUE and non-GUE divers who have better buoyancy than me. There are plenty of GUE and non-GUE who have more capacity, better awareness, more experience, my teaching tools, etc, etc. I like to think I'm a pretty strong diver these days, but that's within a relatively narrow framework. I'd fail the BSAC or PADI entry level diver exams if I walked into them tomorrow. I have no idea how IANTD or TDI calculate decompression or plan dives. 

I think a DIR diver is someone that adopts a holistic approach to their diving that includes...

1. Personal diving skills

2. Fitness

3. Strong team based approach to dive planning and execution

4. A standardised minimalist equipment configuration, at least within a team if not an agency

5. An approach to dive planning which stresses safety over cost savings

6. Utilisation of standardised gases in order to minimise gas density, narcosis, the risk of oxygen toxicity, and facilitate the simplistic calculation of decompression.

Using these criteria, I have to assess myself

My personal diving skills are pretty strong, although obviously there is plenty of room for improvement. I totally understand and adhere to the team based approach in all aspects of my diving, and adhere to the minimalist , standardised equipment configuration as defined by GUE. My fitness, however, could be much better. My personal skills could be better. My teamwork could be better. So I have work to do in order to be a DIR diver. In fact, I think being a DIR diver means ALWAYS wantng to improve, so I would add a 7th criteria

7. A desire to constantly improve and develop all aspects of their diving. 

So my definition of DIR is not something you can label yourself with, it's something you aspire to. Some days you might get close, but you could always be better. You can always improve. 

Let's look at that list again...

1. Personal diving skills

2. Fitness

3. Strong team based approach to dive planning and execution

4. A standardised minimalist equipment configuration, at least within a team if not an agency

5. An approach to dive planning which stresses safety over cost savings

6. Utilisation of standardised gases in order to minimise gas density, narcosis, the risk of oxygen toxicity, and facilitate the simplistic calculation of decompression.

7. A desire to constantly improve and develop all aspects of their diving.

 

There's nothing agency specific in here. Aspire to these elements and in my book you are a DIR diver, no matter what your equipment looks like, or what it says on your certification card. so forget about who trained you and ask yourself - are you a DIR diver?

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Gareth Burrows is a GUE Instructor trainer, and a personal diving coach for recreational and technical divers of all levels, specialising in improving buoyancy control, trim and stability, in-water confidence, and ascent management. He has trained with PADI, TDI, IANTD and GUE as well as serving as a DO in a BSAC branch. He has been diving cold water wrecks in Europe and around the UK for over a decade, and can usually be found diving out of Brighton, Portland or Plymouth. He is qualifying later this year as a cave diver and looking to become a GUE tech1 instructor in the 18 months. He has trained or coached hundreds of divers from newly qualified open water divers, to course directors and technical instructors.

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