Scuba divers and freedivers tend to not get along, especially scuba spearfishermen vs freediving spearfishermen. There are lots of reasons for this and plenty of blame to go around, but I believe the animosity is more the fault of the freedivers than the scuba divers.
I hear this one a lot, “fat outta shape bubble blowers.” Freediver’s often have an elitist attitude towards scuba divers, because they can do something that the scuba divers can’t do. “Oh you need a tank to go down there, or you need a tank to shoot that fish, I can do it just holding my breath.”
It’s similar to how when you post a picture of fish on Instagram people comment, “oh you use a gun? I only use a Hawaiian sling.”
I was an avid scuba diver for many years and taught scuba from 2005-2009. If it wasn’t for scuba I would never be where I am today. I clearly prefer freediving over scuba, but I have no issues with scuba. In fact, this picture was during my recent refresher course in Grenada. It had been 7 years since I had been scuba diving!! The instructor was very impressed with our mask clearing skills.
So what’s my point? My point is scuba divers are so so close to being freedivers. They love the ocean, they like fish, they like boats, they are not scared of sharks, they don’t get seasick or know how to handle it if they do and in some cases they like shooting fish. As a freediving instructor this sounds like my dream student.
The only ability scuba divers don’t have is an ability to hold their breath. This ability is easily learned through a formal freediving class; which are more readily available than ever. As long as they have a reasonable amount of fitness, there is no reason these scuba divers couldn’t freedive. They also don’t have to give up scuba. If they are hunting/diving deep they can do it on tanks, if it’s shallower they now have the option to freedive. Who knows, they might love freediving and quit scuba diving, or they might do both, but just pick the right tool for the job. Dive shop owners should pay attention here, pick the right tool for the job, and if you have both markets you have them either way!
My point is freedivers can do a better job of growing the sport. Freedivers can do a better job of encouraging scuba divers to try freediving. Calling them fat out of shape bubble blowers isn’t gonna win them to our side.
So why is it in your interest to grow the sport? The sport is growing like crazy right now and that brings lots of great things. I can remember when the only custom speargun on the market was basically a Wong. Now I can’t even remotely keep up with the names of all the custom gun builders. This is because as the sport is growing, there is more money in the sport, so more manufactures get into the sport. This brings competition, which is great for everyone. I love how these small specialized companies come out of nowhere and put out great products that compete with the big boys, like Gannet, Headhunter, Hatch, Neritic etc. Have you noticed that there are slowly more and more boats catering to freediving spearfisherman? As this sport grows this benefits everyone.
So consider trying to win over some scuba divers, who knows what they could end up accomplishing in the sport. Remember, I used to be a fat outta shape bubble blower.