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BASE Jumping: Articles: Getting Into BASE: Beyond the First Jump Course

Beyond the First Jump Course updated

by admin

Once you have completed your first jump course (FJC), don’t go home thinking you are now a qualified BASE jumper. The first jump course teaches the bare minimum to allow you to safely jump from the object your course was at (usually the Potato Bridge, unless you took your FJC in Europe).

Your first jump course may have discussed the theory for other objects, but it is simply impossible to aquire all knowledge required to safely start jumping other sites. It is therefore important that you have a good follow up plan for after your first jump course. You should have this plan in place before you take the course, especially when it comes to finding a mentor.

Find a Mentor

Your mentor will be the person that can transform you from an overly excited skydiver that thinks he knows how to pack a BASE rig and do a bridge jump, into a self reliant BASE jumper that has sufficient gear knowledge and site analysis skills to avoid a certain death.

Don’t skip this step. It is very easy to come home from a first jump course and think world has become a dropzone. In due time, it will be. But you need to learn a lot more before you can expand your horizons. You will be amazed by the number of things you will learn from jumping with more experienced people. The amount of little things that your FJC didn’t touch on, but can save your life some day, is incredible.

Basejumper has dedicated an entire section to mentoring.

Tune your DBS

Finding appropriate deep brake settings is absolutely mandatory when you plan on jumping solid objects. Your brake setting determines how much forward speed you have on opening. The less forward speed you have, the more time you have to turn your canopy around before you hit the wall.

Basejumper dedicates a page to brake settings and it is highly recommended reading.

Do not skip this step. It is incredible how often one sees a jumper do a low cliff and have excessive speed on opening. It is only a matter of time before such a jumper has an offheading and smacks into the wall. Do not gamble on this!

Obstacle Avoidance Drills

Tuning your brake settings will give you more time in case of an offheading, it won’t save you quite yet. You still need to turn around in time before you hit the object.

It is absolutely necessary you practice this on a bridge. You have already practiced this maneuver on your skydives and now is the time to take it to a real BASE environment.

The ideal scenario is to do a floater exit from a bridge. Then, when you get an offheading, you try to make sure you manage to turn the canopy around before part of your canopy dissappears underneath the bridge.

Try to find somebody that can film you from above to really get an objective analysis. For more information on dealing with offheadings, refer to the offheadings section.


When you have access to a forgiving object (usually bridges, like the Potato Bridge) it is highly recommend to practice simple malfunctions, just like you may already have done on your skydives.

Practice simple problems on forgiving objects. Losing a toggle with the LRM, try some Line Twist, etcetera. See the problems page to learn what malfunctions can safely be done intentionally.

Pick Landing Spots

Just because you’re a beginner and only jump easy objects (you are doing that, right), doesn’t mean you have to go easy on the landings. Don’t focus on just the freefall aspect of your jump and think it is over once your canopy deploys on heading. Instead of accepting that you have the entire landing area available, pick a spot before every jump and try to put your canopy down at that exact point. Mix it up a little, aim for a far spot, then aim for a nearby spot. Try to avoid imaginary objects like trees and powerlines. Give yourself a challenge.

There will be a day when you have the experience and desire to jump an object with a more technical landing area. Then you’ll be happy you have already been dodging those objects in your mind, and aiming for those imaginary tight areas.

Progress Slowly

It seems common sense to progress slowly in a sport as dangerous as BASE. After all, it is going to improve your safety. Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out. Especially when you are just beginning, it is easy to be so excited about this new sport, that you’ll be trying to jump as much as possible.

Mostly, this is a good thing. Getting a lot of experience in a short amount of time can be beneficial to a safe BASE career. Just make sure you don’t let your desire to jump cloud your judgement on the wind-conditions, technical level of the jump, and heat on the object.

Furthermore, since BASE is such a beautiful sport, do you really want to soak it all up in just a few months? Why not spread the great experiences over a longer period of time? In the meanwhile, just bang out lots of jumps on the easier and more accessible sites. Gain the experience to work your way up to more technical sites.

Jumping Partners

While our sport is full of great, interesting, funny, smart and safety conscious people, it would go too far to say that our sport consists of only responsible jumpers. Sometimes two people just don’t jell very well, and risk and danger perception works different for everybody.

Before you make a jump with somebody you don’t know very well, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. Is this a safety conscious person?
  2. How much jumping experience does this person have?
  3. How much does this person care about BASE ethics?
  4. Does this person have first-aid training? What happens if I get hurt?
  5. Has this person done every possible thing to avoid getting hurt himself?
  6. What happens if he does get hurt, or even worse; killed. Will I know who to contact?
  7. When you invite him for a jump, is he going to show up with all his family and friends and four film crews?
  8. When you show this person your local sites, will he share this information with other jumpers, the media, or non-jumpers?

You might have different standards or morals when it comes to safety consciousness, risk management, and BASE ethics. That doesn’t mean that other person is less of a BASE jumper, but it does mean that you need to put some thought into who you jump with, as opposed to just jumping with anybody that owns BASE gear.


BASE is an interesting sport in that because of its dangers and occasional dubious legal status, it brings along a whole array of theoretical baggage. It is important to be somewhat familiar with this, because it puts into perspective some of the decisions other jumpers will make, and the way you should approach other jumpers and jump-sites.

Basejumper has an entire section dedicated to these theoretical issues. If you’re only going to read one of those, make sure you learn about the contact-the-locals rule. It is the rule that will allow you to revisit sites and meet some of the greatest people in your life.

Also read up on BASE history as it provides another background for some ongoing issues that BASE jumpers face.

Keep learning

No matter how many jumps you have, there will always be things to learn. Strictly speaking there are only students in this sport. Some students just think they can also teach. But even those, you’ll find, often teach with the intention of learning something from it too.

Continue to be a student. Take nothing for granted, question everything, and never stop learning. Not only will you be safer, it is also one of the most rewarding things in the sport.

Submitted by admin on 2007-06-27 | Last Modified on 2010-04-16

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