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Spearfishing Tips for Beginners

Feb 1, 2022

The exciting and interactive sport of spearfishing is becoming increasingly popular among SCUBA divers and freedivers alike—but like any sport, there is a bit of a learning curve. As amateurs work to improve their spearfishing prowess, it’s important to understand a few key points in order to make the most out of this unique and rewarding activity.

Start with the Basics

The best way to ensure your success in spearfishing is to make sure you learn everything you can about the sport.

First, get scuba and freediving lessons so you can learn how to use breathing equipment and also train yourself to go deep underwater without them. Learn the types of waters and dive spots you can go spearfishing in, as well as the species of fish that you can typically hunt.

After that, enroll in a spearfishing class so you can learn more about safety practices, spearfishing equipment, catch management, and other fundamental skills and knowledge that every spearo should have. These classes will also enable you to learn and practice spearfishing techniques in a practical setting—but with the comfort of knowing that your instructor or guide is likely hovering nearby to help keep you safe.

Also, don’t forget to get licensed, in case your target dive spot requires it.

Do Your Research

You may already know how to spearfish and freedive, but that doesn’t mean you can just tackle any unfamiliar dive spot without doing some research. Ask your local dive shop where the beginner spots (not deeper than 20 feet) are, the recommended type of gear you’ll need for it, and what difficulties or dangers you may need to watch out for.

Another way to make sure that you’re as prepared as you can possibly be during your first few hunts is to find a locally based group and make friends with more experienced spearos. You can join them on their dives, ask them questions, and learn all about the local dive spots they frequent.

Safety First

Spearfishing is both challenging and exciting, but one thing all spearos should know is that it can also be a dangerous endeavor—particularly if you aren’t taking the proper precautions. Safety should be at the forefront of your mind before, during, and even after each dive. In the ocean, danger can present itself at any time. You could get tangled in fishing nets, get clamped and bitten by sharks or eels, get hit by a boat… and you can even end up drowning.

Remember to take all possible safety measures, keep your hands and weapons where you can see them, and dive only in places that aren’t too advanced for your skill and experience level.

Start Small

During your first few sessions, pick small targets and hit them behind or near the top of their gill. This way, you reduce the risk of error and increase your chances of a one-hit “stone” shot. Another good way to build your confidence is to also start with more basic equipment, such as a Hawaiian sling or pole spear. Not only will these help you learn all the fundamentals of becoming an expert in spearfishing, but they also allow you to start early as they are much more affordable than air-powered spearguns.

Acquire The Right Tools

There are a wide variety of options when it comes to selecting a spear gun and spearfishing accessories. Some divers get too weighed down with gear, while others don’t carry essential tools. Spearguns must be correctly weighed and balanced for the type of marine life being hunted and underwater conditions. Strong currents and bigger prey will require more powerful spearguns, which require careful training and experience to properly master. A good spear gun, some buoyancy tools, and a proper knife are usually all that a serious spearfishing enthusiast will need to get started.

Know the Importance of a Knife

One of the least known but most useful spearfishing tips is understanding the critical necessity of always carrying a proper knife. When used correctly, a knife can quickly free divers from entanglements or other underwater obstructions. In cases where marine life becomes injured by a speargun, divers can use a knife to swiftly and humanely dispatch the situation. If a speargun cannot be safely fired or a fish continues to struggle after being shot, a good knife can allow divers to finish the job and end their suffering, aside from being able to defend themselves from some forms of aggressive marine life.

Respect the Weapon

It is absolutely critical to remember that spearguns are weapons and should be respected as such. As with other potentially lethal weapons, spearguns should never be pointed at other human beings. When not in active use, spearguns should always be oriented to point away from potential areas of harm to minimize damage in case of involuntary discharge.

Many spearguns have a powerful recoil when fired, which could potentially result in injury to a diver’s face and body. Speargun owners should familiarize themselves with their weapon and carefully conduct underwater test firings before using them in the field to hunt marine life.

Improve Your Breath Hold

As you gain more experience in both diving and spearfishing, it helps to train yourself to hold your breath longer underwater than the standard duration of three minutes (for experienced freedivers). This also includes employing a few tricks to help you reduce your energy usage, such as wearing layers under your wetsuit, going slow, and using good fins. Once developed, this technique will allow you to stay longer on the reef and increase your chances of catching good fish.

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