Posted by frazz on March 15, 2000 at 12:32:37:
In Reply to: Newbie needs info on good Dive Shops in Los Angeles area posted by Raja on March 15, 2000 at 07:28:29:
It is hard to recommend a dive shop in the LA area based just on what you have said alone.
Each dive shop has it's own personality, and I'd have to know more about you to be able to make that recommendation.
The most important part of your scuba training experience is that you find an instructor that you are comfortable and happy with.
Next in line is if you like the shop and the way it is managed. Do they have money back or gear exchange guarantees? Is the pool on site or do you have to schlep gear all over town to do your pool sessions? What does the shop include in the training and what does it charge extra for? Will they guarantee that they have told you all the expenses up front, or are they dragging you over to the cash register everytime you come in for a class? How many students will be in your class? How many instructors / assistants?
Also important: are your fellow class mates similar in interest and enthusiasm as you are? If you get stuck in a class with folks who will be diving only on a carribean vacation, who will you dive with after the class is over?
Many clubs are affiliated with a dive shop, some are not. Perhaps one good way to find out about good instructors (not all instructors work through a specific shop, and the YMCA certifies students as well), is to attend a few of the clubs in your neighborhood and get to know some of the folks. This way, if you find that you really like one group you can build a personal relationship and be guaranteed dive buddies after your course is over.
And most importantly - go with your gut reaction. What works for one person may not work for you.
Information about dive clubs is posted in the California Diving News - it comes out every month and nearly every dive shop keeps copies around.
And finally - keep in mind that scuba can be a hazardous sport if you aren't trained thouroughly. When it comes to instruction and dive shops, you usually get what you pay for. If you are just looking for the cheapest class price, you may find yourself either shelling out $$$ for hidden costs, or you may find youself shuttled through a large, impersonnal class with a strict, inflexible schedual, unless you ask the right questions. Definitely try to meet with your instructor well in advance of the class. And once you are in the class, do the homework and be on time. You do have to gain the instructor's signature on your card and being prepared and enthusiastic helps a lot.
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