You see 'em on the dropzone--the ninjas that look like they were born in freefall. Make no mistake--they were once exactly like you, with the ink of their A-license stamp still fresh on the page. So how did those gnar-shredders attain skydiving greatness? The same way you will: with persistence, consistency and a solid work ethic. If you want to become a great skydiver, here are five of our top tips.
Learning to skydive is challenging--and that's why you're doing it, right? Folks who show up at the dropzone with the certainty that they'll be in a wingsuit by the end of the summer are generally pretty surprised by the difference between how easy it looks on YouTube and how difficult it really is to fly one's body skillfully and consistently. Those first hundred jumps are not easy. In fact, most people are actively facing their fear for most of them. But--once you've cleared that hurdle--you can expect the learning curve to adjust in your favor. The butterflies calm down significantly.
It's still important to get to the dropzone regularly, even when you've got hundreds of jumps, to make sure that your skills don't get rusty--but in the first hundred, it's vital.
Invest in wind tunnel time. Sure, it's expensive--but it's absolutely worth it. Learning to navigate your body in the airflow will release the valve on loads of pressure when you're actually jumping from an airplane. Your tunnel instructor will use the lower-variable environment of the wind tunnel to walk you through the skills you'll need to perform in the wild blue yonder. You'll teach your body what to expect before you're in sensory overload land, giving you a huge leg up towards your goal.
Our closest wind tunnel is SkyVenture New Hampshire in Nashua, so you can pop over there for a few minutes' worth of flying if you have a free day--but many new skydivers make the excellent decision to spend a few days at a destination tunnel camp. Doing a camp gives you the time and mental space to focus on the task at hand, allowing you to get significantly more comfortable in freefall. To find a tunnel near you, visit Indoor Skydiving Source's wind tunnel database.
It's tempting to jump with folks that are close to your level--and that should definitely be part of your progression--but you should choose to jump regularly with skydivers whose skills vastly outstrip your own. Most skydivers are more than willing to share their hard-earned knowledge with newer jumpers, and making the expansive choice will keep you moving towards the next level of becoming a proficient skydiver.
To improve your skydiving skills, the value of a mentor cannot be overstated. In your early days as a skydiver, you should remain on the active lookout for a ninja mentor to help with your progression. Don't be shy! Reach out to the coaches at your dropzone (and the dropzones nearby) to find someone whose style clicks with yours.
Don't miss a single skills camp on the schedule. Take the canopy piloting courses, the Safety Day presentations, the 4-Way skills camps, the angle camps--all of it! Make the calendars for the local dropzones part of your general "circle of awareness," and don't pooh-pooh any discipline. They all have something important to teach you. View Jumptown's calendar of upcoming events.
Becoming a great skydiver will be one of the highlight challenges of your life--so don't fast-forward through any of it. Take it easy on yourself and enjoy the journey!