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GUE Fundamentals


The DIR Fundamentals course is designed to cultivate the essential techniques required by all sound diving practice, irrespective of level or environment. Functioning as a prerequisite for all other GUE classes, save its recreational diver course (forthcoming), DIR Fundamentals performs a three-fold function within the GUE curriculum: 1) it provides the recreational diver, in whom there is no desire for further diver training, with a context in which to advance his/her basic diving skills, thereby developing more comfort, confidence, and competence in the water; and 2) it provides the diver with aspirations of more advanced diver training with the tools that will contribute to a greater likelihood of success; and 3) it provides non-GUE trained divers with a gateway into GUE training.


  1. Must meet GUE General Course Prerequisites as outlined in Section 1.6
  2. Must be a minimum of 16 years of age
  3. Must be a certified open water diver from a recognized training agency
  4. Must be able to swim a distance of at least 50 feet/15 meters on a breath hold
  5. Must be able to swim at least 300 yards/275 meters in less than 14 minutes without stopping. This test should be conducted in a swimsuit and, where necessary, appropriate thermal protection.


The DIR Fundamentals class is normally conducted over a 2- to 3-day period. It involves a minimum of twenty (20) hours of instruction, encompassing both classroom and in-water work.

Course Limits

  1. General Training Limits as outlined in Section 1.4
  2. Student to instructor ratio is not to exceed 6:1 during any in-water training and should be adjusted downward to account for bad conditions and/or poor visibility
  3. Maximum depth 60 feet/18 meters
  4. No decompression
  5. No overhead environment diving

Course Content

The DIR Fundamentals course is normally conducted over a 2- to 3-day period. Combining lecture and practical (in-water) sessions, this course focuses on cultivating the foundational skills required by all diving practice. It is focused on increasing diving fun by reducing stress and increasing diver proficiency through proper control of buoyancy, trim, propulsion, teamwork, and other DIR principles.

Course requirements include a minimum of eight (8) hours of academics and four (4) in-water sessions.

Required Training Materials

  1. Doing it Right: The Fundamentals of Better Diving. Jarrod Jablonski, GUE, 2001, High Springs, Florida.
  2. DIR Fundamentals Workbook.

Academic Topics

  1. GUE organization
  2. Why DIR Fundamentals?
  3. Diving proficiency
  4. Buoyancy and trim
  5. Streamlining and equipment configuration
  6. Propulsion techniques
  7. Situational awareness
  8. Communication
  9. Breathing gas overview
  10. Dive planning and gas management
  11. Diver preparedness

Land Drills & Topics

  1. Dive team protocols
  2. S-drill and valve-drill
  3. Equipment fit and function
  4. Propulsion techniques
  5. Pre-dive drills
  6. Surface marker deployment

Required Dive Skills & Drills

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in safe diving techniques; this would include pre-dive preparations, in-water activity, and post-dive assessment.
  2. Demonstrate awareness of team member location and a concern for safety, responding quickly to visual cues and dive partner needs.
  3. Efficiently and comfortably demonstrate how to donate gas to an out-of-gas diver.
  4. Efficiently and comfortably demonstrate how to donate gas to an out-of-gas diver followed by a slow, direct ascent to the surface.
  5. Comfortably demonstrate at least two propulsion techniques that would be appropriate in delicate and/or silty environments.
  6. Demonstrate a safe and responsible demeanor throughout all training.
  7. Demonstrate proficiency in the ability to deploy a spool and a surface marker.
  8. Demonstrate good buoyancy and trim.
  9. Demonstrate proficiency in underwater communication.
  10. Demonstrate basic equipment proficiency and an understanding of the DIR equipment configuration.
  11. Demonstrate aptitude in the following open water skills: mask clearing, mask removal and replacement, regulator removal and exchange, long hose deployment.
  12. Demonstrate safe ascent and decent procedures.
  13. Demonstrate proficiency in executing a valve drill.

Equipment Requirements

Each student should have, and be familiar with, all of the following required equipment.

  1. Tanks/Cylinders: Students may use dual tanks/cylinders connected with a dual outlet isolator manifold, which allows for the use of two first-stages. Students may also use a single tank/cylinder with a K, H, or Y-valve.
  2. Regulators: One of the second-stages must be on a 5- to 7-foot/1.5- to 2-meter hose. One of the first-stages must supply a pressure gauge and provide inflation for a dry suit (where applicable).
  3. Backplate System: A rigid and flat platform, of metal construction with minimal padding, held to a diver by one continuous piece of nylon webbing. This webbing should be adjustable through the plate and should use a buckle to secure the system at the waist. A crotch strap attached to the lower end of this platform and looped through the waistband would prevent the system from riding up a diver's back. A knife should be secured to the waist on the left webbing tab. This webbing should support five D-rings; the first should be placed at the left hip, the second should be placed in line with a diver's right collarbone, the third should be placed in line with the diver's left collarbone, the fourth and fifth should be affixed to the crotch strap to use while scootering or towing/stowing gear. The harness below the diver's arms should have small restrictive bands to allow for the placement of reserve light powered by three in-line c-cell batteries (where necessary). The system should retain a minimalist approach with no unnecessary components.
  4. Buoyancy Compensation Device: A diver's buoyancy compensation device should be back-mounted and minimalist in nature. It should come free of extraneous strings, tabs, or other material. There should be no restrictive bands or "bungee" of any sort affixed to the buoyancy cell. In addition, diver lift should not exceed 50lbs for a single tank and 80lbs for double tanks. Wing size and shape should be appropriate to the cylinder size(s) employed for training.
  5. At least one depth-measuring device
  6. At least one timekeeping device
  7. Mask and fins: Mask should be low volume; fins should be rigid, non-split
  8. At least one cutting device
  9. Wet Notes
  10. One spool with 100 feet/30 meters of line per diver
  11. Exposure suit appropriate for the duration of exposure

Note: Prior to the commencement of class, students should consult with a GUE representative to verify equipment requirements. Whether or not a piece of equipment fulfills GUE's equipment requirement remains at the discretion of GUE and its instructor representatives. Participants are responsible for providing all equipment or for making provisions to secure the use of necessary equipment before the start of the course. In general, it is better for the student to learn while using his or her own equipment. However, students should exercise caution before purchasing new equipment to avoid acquiring substandard equipment. Please contact a GUE representative prior to making any purchases. Information about recommended equipment can be obtained from the equipment considerations section of GUE's web site.