Author: Mick Sheinberg
It is more than just gear that gets you out there when you begin harvesting and hunting underwater on one breath. You need a respect for the ocean and the risks associated with what we do as underwater hunters. Before you even entertain going on a shopping spree and loading up with flashy gear, there are a few things you should be asking yourself.
Firstly…. Am I equipped with the knowledge to avoid getting into trouble and endangering the lives of myself, of my dive buddies and of other mariners? At a bare minimum you should be doing an extensive amount of independent research online and from proven publications. Freediving is not without its own risks and combined with spearfishing and hand harvesting, it can be a risky pastime. Ideally, one should start by taking a course and seeking instruction from a professional freedive instructor. There is no better investment for someone who is looking to get into freediving and spearfishing. You can have all the best gear in the world but having a solid foundational knowledge of freediving and risk management that goes with it will give you the keys to the ocean you desire!
The next question is…do I really need that? You can spend a lot of money on all of the best gear out there, which is great if you can afford it, but you may in the long run end up with gear that you don’t really need. On the flipside, don’t buy junk. You’ll just have to replace it later as you progress as a Spearo. Find the happy middle ground in all of this. Try and think about purchasing your gear in stages.
Firstly focus on your ‘Essentials’:
- Mask – Low volume preferred to high volume but most important thing is a good fit!
- Snorkel – Keep it simple.
- Fins – Long blade fins for propulsion and efficiency.
- Weight Belt & Weights – Make sure you know how to weight yourself properly/safely!
- Wetsuit, Socks and Gloves – If you can invest in quality neoprene from the start.
- Timing Device – Anything to keep time of dives & surface intervals
- Line Cutter/Knife – Something to deal with and manage entanglement scenarios.
Buy the best you can afford. This will be the gear you depend on to build the foundation of your skills and grow your bottom times. There’s no point in buying a speargun and all the trimmings if you haven’t yet become a proficient and competent freediver. Get to know and depend on your ‘essentials’ first. These are the pieces that will keep you in the water longer, insulating you, conserving your oxygen while maximizing your efficiency on the whole.
Next up, you should add in your ‘Safety Kit’:
- Float, Flag and Float line – Safety in visibility and buoyancy support
- Dive Watch/Computer – Dedicated freedive mode: surface interval, dive depth/time
- Line cutter/Dive Knife – If you didn’t get this in essentials you’re getting it now…
Having a proper ‘safety kit’ will enhance your diving in many ways, most of all keeping you safer. The float setup will help mark your position to others in the area and can provide emergency floatation in a time of need. The dive watch/computer will allow you to easily track you and your buddies’ surface intervals and bottom times with the automated functions that these devices provide. In addition there are other obvious utilitarian benefits to these items as well. Your float becomes your pack mule for harvesting carrying all your bits, bobs and catch while your dive watch will help you mentally map the bottom contours and locate those reefs you painstakingly researched…
Lastly, build your ‘harvesting kit’:
- Speargun/Pole spear
- Catch bag
- Fish stringer
- Flat-bar/ Pry-bar
These are the tools of the trade. The options seem and are indeed limitless. By the end of your journey, I can assure you that you will own a tool for each job and always be looking for that next little gadget to help do the job better!
Is it feasible to set yourself up for a full kit in one fowl swoop? If you’ve got the budget, for sure! Why not?! In doing so just remember to use the same mentality and approach discussed above. Be mindful of where you allocate your funds and prioritize what’s most important. For example, invest more of the allocated budget into your essentials and safety kit rather than your harvesting kit if your funds are finite. At the end of the day, we’re just trying to help shed a little light on what really counts when you’re starting out.
The final, and second most important element to becoming a competent and responsible underwater hunter (aside from the safety of yourself and others) is founded around being ethical in your marine harvesting. Take only what you need and respect the ocean which gives us so very much. Educate yourself on the marine biodiversity of your area and gain an understanding for the quarry upon which you prey. Spearfishing and gathering marine life by hand and spear is amazingly rewarding and fulfilling. Become a steward of the ocean and do your best to foster this same outlook in others.
Stay safe and make good decisions. – Mick