Do I have to be an expert swimmer?

Not at all. A good basic level of swimming ability is all that is required.

Do I have to be super-fit?

No. A reasonable level of fitness is enough.

Is there anything that might preclude me from diving?

There are very few cases where someone is unable to dive. Conditions like severe asthma or ear problems, lung or heart disease, epilepsy and diabetes could possibly prohibit you entering dive training. All prospective divers are required to complete a UKDMC medical self-declaration prior to commencing SCUBA training.  If the response to any question is “Yes” the declaration will automatically be reviewed by ScotSAC’s medical referee, a qualified G.P. and registered with the UK Diving Medical Committee (UKDMC)

Is it dangerous?

It can be, that's why you need proper training. To put things into perspective although there have been several reported scuba diving related incidents over the years, given that there are many tens of thousands of active scuba divers in the UK, making hundreds of thousands of dives each year, the headlines in the papers can be mis-leading. Like any adventure sport, scuba diving can be dangerous.You are probably at more risk driving to the dive site than actually scuba diving.

How deep to you go and how long are you down there?

Most UK diving is in the 10-30 metres range. ScotSAC training sets depth limits for each level of training, e.g. Branch Diver award allows diving to a depth of 15 m and Sport Diver allows diving to a depth of 30 m.  etc. Depths greater than 40 m require additional training.  Average dive duration depends on depth, breathing rate and several other factors but on average perhaps 30 – 45 mins.

How much will it cost?

The current membership fees for ScotSAC are on our Join-now page. If Family membership or Student rates are appropriate, you will again find these on the Join-now page.

Club members normally also pay a club/branch levy, set locally by the club committee, in addition to the current ScotSAC membership fees. The local club levy varies depending on the type of equipment the club has, and other circumstances. For example clubs who have a dive boat or compressor may have higher annual levies than those that don't.

Some clubs/branches also have different branch levy rates for Families or Students.  Again, these will be set by the local club committee

Is there much to see underwater in Scotland? - And isn't it always cold?

Scotland is a diver's paradise, visited by divers from all over the world. A combination of clear waters, abundant sealife and a multitude of shipwrecks make it an ideal location for scuba diving. Conditions do vary a lot with the weather, particularly the wind, but on a good day it is unbeatable. The water temperature varies from 14°C (September) to 4°C (March). The suits provide excellent thermal protection as does some 'warming liquid' after the dive (e.g. soup!).

Can I dive abroad with my ScotSAC qualification?

Yes. The qualification is recognised world-wide.

How long does it take to train?

This depends on how intensively your particular Club trains and to a certain extent on the individual. The normal arrangement is to meet once a week and the training commences with pool skills, supported by lectures, followed by open water training in the sea, which is reached about 2-3 months after starting out.

Would it be quicker to learn to dive elsewhere?

There are organisations which do offer 'crash' diving courses, normally over a few weekends or so. Such courses are generally available through Dive Shops. The problem with such courses is that they cannot fully prepare an individual for safe participation in the sport, due mainly to the time scale involved... This is especially true when you consider the particular demands of most outdoor pursuits in Scotland. Another factor is that of cost: these courses are run by commercial organisations and so are required to make a profit. Around £350 is the typical cost of one of these short courses which includes theory and 4 dives very often in the same place each time.  ScotSAC first level qualification Branch Diver also has a theory element but requires a minimum of 6 dives and 3 hours underwater in different conditions e.g. in moving water or low visibility and each for a minimum of 15 minutes.

The final point is that learning to dive in such a way excludes the individual from the camaraderie and social life of their local Club.

How old do I have to be (or am I too old)?

You have to be 11 to start aqualung training in the pool and 12 for open water, although some clubs set the limit for joining at 16 or 18 years of age. One is rarely too old to start scuba diving - there are many active divers in their 70s in the UK. After all, the French called it the sport for active grandmothers!  For enthusiatic youngsters under the age of 11, there is the Junior Snorkel Award.

I need vision correction. Is that a problem?

Not at all. Many divers wear soft contact lenses and prescription masks are also available.

What happens in the Clubs apart from diving?

Clubs are really the key component of the whole Organisation. They provide not only training, support and safe open water diving for their members, but they also tend to have a strong social focus as well. Events such as sponsored dives, skittle evenings, ceilidhs (ritual Scottish dancing - similar exercise value to aerobics!), nights out and trips abroad as well as the traditional visit to the pub (after the dive!) are just some of the sort of activities that occur. It's also worth pointing out that diving, by its very nature of one individual depending on another for their well-being, tends to form strong and lasting friendships.

I trained on holiday; will you take me diving?

It depends, the answer is probably 'yes -but...'. Due to the differences is UK conditions when compared to holiday destinations you are probably not prepared for what you will encounter. For this and other reasons we recommend that you convert your qualification to a ScotSAC one (see Crossover page for more details). This will make you a safer diver with a higher level of skill and confidence. All ScotSAC Branches can perform these conversions. If you need any further information on this, just contact us at HQ.

What's in these tanks on your back?

It's not some exotic gas mix just plain old air (filtered, dried and compressed somewhat). Sorry to disappoint you!

Sounds great - whats next?

You can make a shallow scuba dive in the safe confines of a local swimming pool, accompanied by a qualified instructor, to see if you like it. See the Branch Listings to find your local branch and arrange a try-dive. If you enjoy the experience and want to learn to dive with ScotSAC discuss it with your instructor.