SSI has long had a Recreational Sidemount Diving specialty program available, but it is only in recent years that the Extended Range Sidemount program was introduced and the digital content for both programs developed.
The Recreational Sidemount program: provides divers with an introduction to sidemount diving. It is aimed purely at those divers who conduct dives within the no-decompression limits and trains divers in the configuration and techniques needed 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 many decompression divers began their training in the twinset configuration. Those certified decompression divers often want to explore overhead environments where the twinset configuration just isn't suitable.
By becoming SSI Extended Range Sidemount divers, thay can explore further and dive in exciting new overhead environments. To do that, they learn the techniques, skills, and procedures to use Extended Range Sidemount equipment before training in overhead environments in that setup.
Divers might also choose to change equipment configuration from twinset to Extended Range sidemount for mobility reasons. They may no longer be physically capable of carrying a twinset in and out of the water. The ease of donning and doffing sidemount cylinders in the water allows them to continue making 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 two cylinders of gas are simply not enough!
The Extended Range Sidemount Diving training teaches divers how to effectively and efficiently carry up to four cylinders for extended no-decompression dives.
As an SSI Extended Range Sidemount 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 Extended Range (XR) program and dive using 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 SSI Extended Range Nitrox Diving, SSI Extended Range and SSI Technical Wreck Diving.
Answer: No, you can choose either program as an entry point. You can register and become certified as an SSI Recreational Sidemount diver, and then “upgrade” you qualification to SSI Extended Range Sidemount diving later. Alternatively, you can immediately begin with the SSI Extended Range Sidemount program.
Rationale: 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.
Answer: No, the Extended Range Sidemount Diving program is purely an equipment configuration and skills program.
Rationale: Many divers began their decompression training in a twinset configuration before the sidemount configuration was really readily available. As the years went by, divers sought training in an alternative equipment configuration.
As they are already certified in decompression diving, the program does not need to cover those components. Instead, 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 SSI Extended Range program.
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.
Rationale: It takes time and experience to become an accomplished sidemount diver. It is not reasonably possible to teach all the components needed to become a sidemount diver and all the components to become an Extended Range diver within one program.
It is simply too much 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.
Answer: No. You must be an Extended Range Sidemount Instructor in order to teach the Extended Range program in sidemount configuration.
Rationale: 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 that are gained as 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:
Rationale: The Extended Range Sidemount ITC is a very intense and focussed time, during which you will gain the highest level of instruction from an experienced Extended Range Sidemount Instructor Trainer.
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.