SSI has long had a recreational sidemount diving specialty program available but it was only in the last years that the Extended Range Sidemount program was introduced and the digital content for both programs developed. The Recreational Sidemount program provides the divers with the introduction to sidemount diving. It is aimed purely at those divers who conduct dives within the no-decompression limits. It trains divers in the configuration and techniques for managing two bottom gas cylinders. The Extended Range Sidemount program builds upon that knowledge and introduces the use of additional stage cylinders which are typically required to carry decompression gases. The program also introduces the concept of redundancy and self-sufficiency in both equipment choices and skills.
- Mainstream sidemount diving is relatively new in comparison to its twinset counterpart, and so many decompression divers began their training in the twinset configuration. In many cases the certified decompression diver now wishes to take their training into an overhead environment in which the XR sidemount configuration is more suitable and effective. In order to do that they must learn the intricate configuration details, techniques, skills and procedures specifically relating to the XR sidemount equipment before being permitted to train in the overhead environment in that configuration.
- Divers might also choose to change their equipment configuration from twinset to XR sidemount for mobility reasons. They may no longer be physically capable of carrying a twinset in and out of the water but to have the ease of donning and doffing sidemount cylinders in the waters continues to allow them to make decompression dives.
- In some regions, divers are looking to gain training in Extended Range Sidemount Diving to permit them to make long shallow dives. Divers in the Mexican Cenotes are a great example of this. They plan to make long shallow dives, where simply two cylinders of gas is not enough! The Extended Range Sidemount Diving training teaches them how to effectively and efficiently carry up to four cylinders for extended no-decompression dives.
Benefits for SSI Professionals
As an Extended Range Sidemount Diving instructor, you are one of the most experienced and qualified instructors in the sidemount community. This increases your earning potential and creates new opportunities for you to work in the dive industry. It also increases the number of programs and services your training center can offer its customers.
The Extended Range Sidemount certification is also a prerequisite for any student who wants to join an XR program and dive in that configuration, so there is a great demand for this level of training.
The Extended Range Sidemount Instructor certification is also a prerequisite for teaching other XR specialty programs in XR sidemount configuration such as Extended Range Nitrox Diving, Extended Range or Technical Wreck Diving.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: Do I need to hold the SSI Recreational Sidemount Diving certification before I can be an SSI Extended Range Sidemount diver?
Answer: The answer here is no, you can choose either program as an entry point. You can either register, become certified as an SSI Recreational Sidemount diver and later “upgrade” their qualification to Extended Range Sidemount diving, or, you can immediately begin with the Extended Range Sidemount program.
Rational: The Extended Range Sidemount Diving program covers all aspects of sidemount diving, from the very initial basics of cylinder configuration and rigging through to the more advanced techniques of stage cylinder handling.
Question: Is the Extended Range Sidemount Diving program a decompression program?
Answer: The answer here is no, the Extended Range Sidemount Diving program is purely an equipment configuration and skills program.
Rational: Many divers began their decompression training in a twinset configuration before the sidemount configuration was really readily available. As the years go by, maybe because of mobility issues, the diver seeks training in an alternative equipment configuration. They are already certified in decompression diving so the program does not need to cover those components, the program needs to ensure that the diver is confident and capable to dive in a decompression environment in sidemount configuration. The decompression diving techniques are taught during the Extended Range program.
Question: How can I gain a decompression qualification in sidemount configuration?
Answer: You can register and join the Extended Range program. You must already be a certified Recreational Sidemount diver and your instructor must be an Extended Range Instructor and an Extended Range Sidemount Instructor.
Rational: To become an accomplished sidemount diver takes time and experience. It is not reasonably possible to teach all the components to become a sidemount diver and all the components to become an Extended Range diver all within one program. It is simply too task loading for the students and will result in a negative experience. Therefore, students wishing to make the Extended Range program in sidemount configuration must already be a certified recreational sidemount diver.
Question: I am an Extended Range Instructor with a twinset and I am a Recreational Sidemount Instructor, can I teach the Extended Range program in Sidemount configuration?
Answer: The answer here is no. You must be an Extended Range Sidemount Instructor in order to teach the Extended Range program in sidemount configuration.
Rational: As a Recreational Sidemount instructor you do not have the training, knowledge or skills to manage stage cylinders in a sidemount configuration. Your training is limited to managing two bottom gas cylinders only. It is these skills which are gained as an Extended Range Sidemount Instructor.
Question: How can I upgrade from an SSI Recreational Sidemount instructor to an Extended Range Sidemount instructor?
Answer: You will need to register for the Extended Range Sidemount instructor digital kit and then you have two options; You can either join an Extended Range Sidemount ITC with an Extended Range Sidemount instructor trainer or you can co-teach two complete Extended Range Sidemount programs with an Extended Range Sidemount instructor
Rational: Joining an Extended Range Sidemount ITC is a very intensive focus time where you will gain the highest level of instruction from an experienced Extended Range Sidemount instructor trainer, but, in areas where an instructor trainer is not available it is possible to co-teach with an Extended Range Sidemount instructor and build your knowledge and experience through the actual completion of these programs.