The first recorded description of the social interactions that could be enabled through networking was series of memos written by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in August 1962 discussing his "Galactic Network" concept. He envisioned a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programs from any site. In spirit, the concept was very much like the Internet of today. The first host to host message was sent in 1969. 1969 was the beginning of the internet.
For most of us, the functional internet began in the mid 90’s. Shortly after this people could shop online and call in an order, then with the help of secure websites we began shopping online… and the wave of the future began.
Today you can buy anything online, and we often go there due to the convenience. SCUBA is no different. Online we can buy anything from D-rings to BCD’s and DPV’s, masks, fins and everything in between. But is it the best place for SCUBA divers? The drive to your local pro is worth more than you think.
Thanks to science, training, and engineering the sport of SCUBA today is safer than ever. Computers alert us to dangerous potential nitrogen levels, needed intervals, ascent rates and gas pressure. Modern regulators are more reliable and predictable than ever… even at depth, and the best BCD’s of yesteryear pale compared to the worst of today. Still, there are dangers, the risk is real.
The safest way to dive is to be instructed, and fitted, by a professional trainer. A simple thing like a troubling tank band, poorly fitting mask or BCD can escalate to a critical problem beneath the surface. A training eye can spot these problems before you purchase. Working with a pro at a local dive shop means that the selection and fit of the product you purchase is right for your style of body and dive.
What about online training? Good point, online training is available from many reputable training agencies. However, any training with your safety in mind means a trip to the ProShop for a final review or reviews. If you choose online training it is a good idea to stop in to your dive shop before you show for the reviews. If you plan on buying equipment, that is a good time to review selection and fit. Request that opportunity to try it in the pool. A good dealer will swap it out if the fit or selection isn’t right.
Another reason to frequent your local shop, dive buddies and trips! After all you didn't get into SCUBA to dive alone right? Plan a trip together, the shop pro’s will be there to help you and people in your area can become lifelong dive buddies. Whatever you do, don't be the tool that takes up a dealer’s time fitting you so you can walk out and buy it online. Remember that they need your support, and they provide a service for you at no charge.
Can you save a buck or two online? Maybe, but it isn’t much and it absolutely isn’t worth your safety. Besides, it’s tough to get air from a website.