Introduction To Technical Diving

Open Circuit Technical Diving

by Jerry Otte (PADI Master Instructor)

Honestly, I’m not sure where or when I first heard the term “technical diving”. Perhaps it was when I took my first nitrox class. At the time, none of the mainstream recreational diving certification agencies were teaching nitrox. I recall taking my class from a cave diving instructor who regaled us with stories of how divers died using nitrox and how we needed to be careful or the same fate awaited us. I came away from the class thinking “these people are crazy” and didn’t dive nitrox again for two years.

Since then, things have changed. Virtually all of the recreational training agencies now teach basic nitrox. The PADI Enriched Air course even includes an entire section on technical diving. In addition, best selling books like The Last Dive and Shadow Divers have popularized technical cave diving and deep wreck diving with their tales of danger and bravery.

So unless you have just started diving or have been living under a rock, you probably have heard the term “technical diving” bandied about somewhere. But what is technical diving and why should you care?

NOTE: In this article, I will discuss open circuit technical diving. No attempt will be made to describle CCR (closed circuit rebreather), which is a whole different animal.