Novice Diver - What should happen before underwater hunting?

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ColoDale

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I don't spear but some friends do. From all of them, I can tell you bouyancy is a good thing; Don't stick your face under a ledge to spear lionfish because if you miss you could get a face full of spines; If you backroll off a boat, point your spear tip(s) seaward. Don't get so focused on your fish (following your fish) that you forget who is in the area. Most I know, started with a Hawaiian sling.
 

Just Don

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I would appreciate it if divers would develop reasonable skills prior to attempting photography or hunting. I know, this is very selfish of me.
As the new guy who is interested in hunting, I agree with you. (Which is why I asked the question.)
 

Belzelbub

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I don't spear but some friends do. From all of them, I can tell you bouyancy is a good thing; Don't stick your face under a ledge to spear lionfish because if you miss you could get a face full of spines; If you backroll off a boat, point your spear tip(s) seaward. Don't get so focused on your fish (following your fish) that you forget who is in the area. Most I know, started with a Hawaiian sling.
For someone who doesn’t spear, these are spot on.

I’ll add a couple.

Never hand a loaded (band(s) pulled to someone on a boat.
Never hand a speargun to someone on the boat with pointy part facing towards them.
 

Scuba_tacoma

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Over 20 years diving and 10 years or so spearfishing. Just my 2 cents.

1. Get as many good dives in as possible watching your time and air. The idea about a stick is awesome. You will be task loading.

2. You need a good fish ID course. Knowing what your looking at and for is important. Realize that being a fish shooter should also, in part, being a fish hugger (conservationist).

3. Going with a guide to start is a great idea!

4. Find a group of guys that also like to spearfish and then get a mentor.

5. Be safe, your life is not worth a fish, and have fun.
 

Bob DBF

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I'm sure I'll have to *go* somewhere to do it. I'm pretty sure there aren't a lot of good underwater hunting opportunities in North Texas...

Perhaps not underwater, but I'll bet there is a lot of hunting topside. Learning to handle a firearm is quite similar to a speargun and the skills cross over. You don't need to hunt to learn the safety skills for deadly weapons, and you probably know someone who would be willing to help make it second nature to you. It may not help you hit a fish, but it will help you not hit something by accident.

Good luck and good hunting.
 

Eric Sedletzky

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I’ve been a spear fisherman for years both freediving and scuba.
You need to get good enough at diving that all the little things that can go wrong in scuba just become a simple little annoyance not a major panic. That includes losing a reg, getting your mask dislodged or knocked off, all the task loading that can happen, keeping track of your buddy, etc.

There are also a set of safety rules that you must adhere to.
One is, you must know where your buddy is at all times when you decide to pull the trigger on a fish and can’t see must past the target. It’s very easy to get side tracked and get carried away hunting and this is where most buddy separations happen. If you’re buddy diving, my recommendation is to take turns hunting. Basically one diver hunts while the other is there just to be the buddy and stays next to or slightly behind the hunter and remains attentive. The next dive you switch. This is ideal situation.
Your buoyancy control needs to become second nature and automatic. You should have it so automatic that when you’re dealing with game, stringing it up or wrestling with a big fish trying to dispatch it, you should not look up and realize that you’re descending like a rock down a wall or shooting to the surface.
Proper weighting is a critical component of this.
Hunting can be one of the most distracting and heavily task loading activities that you can possibly do underwater.
It also helps to be in shape if you plan to shoot anything of any size. Your heart can get pumping and your adrenaline gets flowing. People can get towed around sometimes depending on where they are hunting and what they shoot.
For this reason I recommend a high quality high flow regulator that will deliver plenty of air so you’ll never feel like you’re sucking air through a straw.
I recommend Freedive hunting first to get started. You’ll develop a lot of the skills needed before you strap a tank on.
There a hell of a lot more to it than mentioned above but this is a start.
 

blue sky

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I don't free dive. So these spearfishing tips are primarily for scuba divers.

Find a mentor. Perhaps one from a local dive club.

As simple as it sounds, plan your dive and dive your plan. Especially your gas management. When it's time to ascend, ascend. Don't go after that nice fish that appeared just after you started up.

There are a lot of spearfishing videos on You Tube. Watch some of them. You will see things that are really good and should be followed and some other things that aren't so safe.

Periodically in the Tampa Bay Area LDS's put on seminars on spearfishing. Over the years, I've collected 4 pages of single spaced spearfishing tips. Try to find a local seminar and take notes. One of my favorites is, "After taking a shot, put one arm through the bands, up to the shoulder while stringing fish." It took me a long time to make it a habit. I went from a RX5 that didn't float to a TX5 that floats without the spear. After the first shot I took with the new gun while stringing the fish, I lost track of my speargun. My dive buddy pointed out the gun was floating by the bands upside down above my shoulder.

Free shaft whenever possible. When you're hunting, be 10 to 15 feet off the bottom. You'll use less air.

It's a great sport. Be safe and enjoy it.
 

Belzelbub

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^ ^ Great advice.

I went to several of Kevin’s seminars, though haven’t heard of any seminars in the past year, but that’s expected.

I picked up the arm through bands tip at one of his seminars. My daughter just started with a speargun, and I told her that as well. Being my daughter, she didn’t listen, and the gun shot to the surface while she was dealing with a hogfish. Her friend on the boat swam and retrieved it, so no loss. But, she’ll remember next time.

Watching lots of videos will also help with fish ID. All the charts and photos you’ll find are great for fish ID at the surface, but the fish look different underwater.

Since seminars may not return for a bit, an alternative is to watch the Barebones of Spearfishing.
 

Just Don

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Perhaps not underwater, but I'll bet there is a lot of hunting topside. Learning to handle a firearm is quite similar to a speargun and the skills cross over. You don't need to hunt to learn the safety skills for deadly weapons, and you probably know someone who would be willing to help make it second nature to you. It may not help you hit a fish, but it will help you not hit something by accident.

Good luck and good hunting.
That's good advice. I'm quite comfortable with handling a firearm safely above the water - and I think you're absolutely right that those safety rules are applicable below water as well.

And not hitting something by accident is *far* more important than hitting the fish I want to catch. :)
 
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