Have you ever thought “What makes a good spearfisherman really good?” Yes, the list is long. Ethics, instincts, tactics, techniques and of course the physical condition to execute them all with a single breath of air at some depth.
Spearfishing is an ancient method of fishing in which the hunter catches his prey with a spear. When the prey is a fish (and usually a shy one!) the catch can happen in a depth starting from surface to multiple fathoms in the blue. Today spearfishing is widely considered as an activity in which the hunter freedives to get the fish. Therefore complete package of spearfishing includes both hunting and freediving skills.
It is a fact that catching a trophy fish is not getting any easier. The pressure of commercial fishing, global climate change, pollution and many other factors (including irresponsible spearfishing) are showing their effects significantly on fish population all around the world. The stories of catching trophies in few meters of water are only available to a few privileged people who lives in or travels to “virgin” destinations. In such conditions, freediving skills in spearfishing are getting more and more important by each year. In conditions which can be considered as extreme by many people, it is sure that your freediving background will define your success and safety.
By no means, this article will be a tutorial to freedive or a full essay describing this wonderful sport. Freediving training should be taken under the inspection of professional instructors. However, this article will try to put a finger on the freediving secrets which can increase your performance during spearfishing.
The act of spearing during spearfishing is simple. Align the fish with the barbed wire and let the arrow find the target. However, in certain situations, adjusting the spear, finding the right position to place the shot or simply diving at the level of target can become extremely difficult. The level of freediving knowledge becomes our joker in this kind of scenarios.
As thought in every proper freediving class; the basics of freediving are mainly as follows: Proper breathing, correct duck dive, strong and proper fining technique, problem free equalisation, correct body position, relaxation and catching the inner peace. Sounds easy right? I can imagine the evil grin on the faces of advanced freedivers! The answer is no, of course. Perfecting the basics in freediving is not an easy job and there are things that we should pay attention. The following paragraphs will shed a light on the little secrets in basic freediving techniques.
We breathe to feed our cells, tissues and organs with vital O2. In other words we breathe to live. However the meaning of proper breathing is more than that in freediving. We breathe especially to prepare ourselves for a dive; we take our last breathe to fill our lungs with maximum capacity (for maximum O2 reserve) and we breathe to recover right after we surface.
Preparation phase of a dive mostly defines the success of it. If you cannot relax and mentally prepare yourself for the upcoming dive, stress shows itself. A stressed diver consumes much more oxygen than a relaxed one. Also the concentration level and technique suffer greatly from stress. The preparation of a dive includes two fundamental steps, breathing and visualisation.
The correct breathing method to get ready for a dive involves belly breathing. By using the diaphragm muscle diver should first push the diaphragm down while inhaling and then fill the lungs. Calm, relaxed, and slow inhales and longer exhales help us physically relax more. Avoiding hyperventilation is the most important thing in this act. The secret lies in defining a breathing rhythm which includes longer exhales than inhales. Longer exhales relax our body and help us drop our heart rates. Combining this breathing routine with the visualisation usually gives the best result. Especially at the diving places that you are familiar with, visualisation of the dive eliminates most of the surprise factor. Visualising the phases of the dive lets the diver save some precious time by guiding him as a walkthrough.
When the time comes for the dive, we first fill abdomen part and then fill the chest. It would be wise to keep in mind that trying to overfill your lungs usually creates involuntary muscle activity in the mid and upper back of your body. Spending a much valuable O2 before the dive is nothing but a waste. Just be sure your final breath is complete and then start diving.
So the dive was nice and you surfaced without a trouble and here you are at the last phase of your dive, recovery. Needless to say your buddy should be watching you during this act (and he should be doing it carefully and up-close!). Unlike the common practice of pointing the fish or telling about the miss shot; the priority after surfacing is to replenish the O2 reserves. In order to do that diver should take deep, quick and full breaths and exhale them passively.
Tip: A good rhythm for breathing for preparation is Exhale time = (1.5-2) X Inhale time. Count 4 when you are inhaling and try to exhale in 6 to 8. If you notice any symptoms of hyperventilation stop and make exhales even longer.
To be continued...