Do you need to enroll in a scuba refresher course before you start your next dive adventure?

DEMA, The Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, publicly released the results of a survey they conducted with over 24,000 scuba divers. The survey was open to those who consider themselves a scuba diver.

The survey showed that 21.7% consider themselves as inactive divers, and another 11.8% were active divers who had not been diving in over a year. The inactive divers were asked if they plan to start diving again, and 97% said yes.

The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) suggests that divers who did not dive in the last six months should take a refresher course.

Using the guideline recommended by PADI, The small sample of the diving population, show a potentially high number of divers who should be taking a refresher course. PADI is in the process of introducing a new training course to replace the old scuba refresher course a.k.a “Scuba Tune-Up course”.

The new program named Reactivate is designed to make it easy for those who have not been an active diver to become active again.

SSI offers a similar course named “Scuba Skills Update”. The basics of this course are the same as the PADI course. Your instructor will review the knowledge you learned in your Open Water Diver course and he/she will also cover any new material you should know about. You will review dive planning, dive tables, and dive execution to keep you safe during future diving activities.

In this article, we will stick to the PADI scuba refresher course / Scuba Tune-Up.

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The Scuba Refresher Course has two components

Taking advantage of new technology, the Refresher or Reactivate program have a digital knowledge section (E-learning) and can be done online. The program uses an interactive learning tool. Based on the answers you give, the program adapts what material is presented to you.

While an overview of all material is given, in-depth teaching focus is only on the material where you do not meet the minimal knowledge criteria. Once the course is completed, you can take the final exam. The exam results will be available to the instructor who conducts the hands-on and practical training.

To complete the Scuba Refresher Course / PADI Reactivate course, you need to do some practical exercises too. This portion of the refresher course is conducted by a Divemaster or an instructor in confined water (often a pool or water with pool-like conditions) or as a guided open water dive.

Also read: What are the Differences Between PADI and SSI?

The hands-on components start with an interview to determine your background and date of your last dive. The results of the knowledge review are examined and discussed, and you will have to complete a short evaluation quiz based on knowledge reviews.

The evaluation of your skills starts with the setting up of the scuba equipment. The instructor watches you setting up the equipment. While diving the instructor observes the different aspects of the dive including the pre-dive safety checks, a method of entry, buoyancy control, and your general dive skills.

There are five skills that are evaluated during an exercise:

  • Remove, replace and clear your mask
  • Become neutrally buoyant and hover
  • In shallow water to deep to stand in and with a deflated BCD, release and drop enough weights to become positively buoyant
  • Use an alternate air source to ascend to the surface and establish a positive buoyancy
  • Practice any other skill the instructor feels needs improvement

Upon successful completion of both components, a new Reactivate “Certification” card will be issued. The card will have the original certification date and will have the new “reactivate” date.

Also read: How to Perform the Pre-Dive Safety Check?

Who should do a Refresher course / PADI Reactivate course?

When you received your original certification card, you were certified for life. There is nothing stopping you from renting or filling a dive tank and doing a shore dive on your own. The reality is it might be the last thing you ever do. If you have been away from diving too long, your skills will get rusty and it might be the best course of action to do a refresher. According to PADI any diver who has not dived in six months needs to take, the course.

Making such broad sweeping statements do not have any bearing on the real need. Take two potential divers. A master diver with twenty years of experience but who has not been able to dive for a year because of business and family commitments.

He is less likely to need a reactivation when compared to an Open Water Diver with no dives after training who has not been diving in five months. Clearly, the need for training is depended on many factors, not just a mark in time. Some dive centers act as if the guidelines are law and will not allow divers who have not dived in six months to join them until they take a course.

Experienced divers who have not been diving in over six months are usually their own best judge if they need a formal course to regain their scuba skills. However, every diver who had not dived in two years should seriously consider the course. If you believe you do not need the course, do a check out dive to make sure.

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Feeling a bit rusty? Not sure if you remember all the hand signals?

If your local dive shop does confined water training in a pool, talk to an instructor to do a check out dive before one of his classes. A short ten-minute pool session under an instructor’s supervision should give a good indication if you need the formal training. Just have the instructor watch you as you run through the task performed in the Reactivate course. Pro tip: Use their BCD and wet suit, yours will last longer if never used in a pool. (Also read: properly maintain your scuba kit)

If you are a novice diver who has less than twenty dives or so, with no dives in the last six months, than a course should be taken. You do not have enough experience for your body to react instinctively.

An experienced diver may not consciously practice those skills, they do them at times in a course of a dive. Clearing a mask, removing a regulator and maintaining neutral buoyancy are all a part of a dive. The body will remember.

If you have not been diving when you start back regardless if you have done a refresher program, start out small. Take your first few dives in conditions suited for Open Water Divers. As you regain your muscle memories, have good control over your buoyancy and become comfortable that is the time to move towards your old dive capacities.

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Have you ever done a scuba review of tune-up course? Let us know in the comments below

Feel free to contact us. We have multiple partners that offer dive packages + accommodation and scuba lessons or check out the following Scuba Dive operators for (a refresher) training or guided Scuba Dive trips:

This article is published by The Scuba Page, the online magazine for Scuba Dive lovers around the world. The Scuba Page is part of RUSHKULT: the online booking platform for adventure sports. Visit the RUSHKULT platform to book your next Scuba Dive training, guided trip, and accommodation.

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