Other Preparation updated
Get your Insurance in OrderMake sure you are ready for any injuries you might sustain during BASE jumping. This means getting an insurance that takes care of the things youíll need when you get injured. This is an extensive subject that has its own page.
Have a WillThis does not necessarily imply that you have an official legal document, but definitely that your family and friends, are aware of what needs to be done in case of an accident.
It is important that you have a single point of contact between your non-jumping family and the BASE community, should you get into an accident. This way all media enquiries can be directed to a single source and the amount of media speculation, rumors and mumbo-jumbo can be kept to a minimum. Misrepresentation of our sport in the media can be most damaging. Getting the facts straight can only happen if a single experienced BASE jumper can control the information.
Be a Rigger
Most BASE jumpers are total gear heads. If you want to be a safe BASE jumper, you have to be at least somewhat of a rigger. Ideally you would get your rigger certification, but many people donít have the time or motivation to get this far. And granted, BASE gear is significantly simpler than skydiving gear. Much knowledge that a certified rigger needs is not mandatory for a BASE jumper. Nevertheless, BASE jumpers should consider themselves a rigger in the sense that a jumper is the only person responsible to make sure the gear he is using is in proper order.Consider getting the Poynters Rigging manuals.
Think When You PackWhen packing a skydiving rig, take the time to understand how what you see when youíre packing relates to what you see when youíre flying. With the canopy laid out and ready to cigar-roll, where is the top skin? The bottom skin? The nose and tail? Learn how to pack carefully when you choose to. Are the lines still on the centerline of the packjob? Are you sure?
Assemble Your Own RigAs an exercise, completely dissassemble your skydiving rig. Disconnect your RSL, pull the cut-away handle. Seperate the risers from the container. Open up all four connector links and take out all the lines. Take off your slider. Disconnect the pilot chute and the D-bag. Now leave the room and ask a friend to go in and make a complete and utter mess out of your entire system.
Then head back in and reassemble the whole thing. After that, go make a jump on it. It forces you to really think about how your gear works and ask yourself simple questions about things like line-continuity and connector-link orientation. Youíd be surprised how much you can learn about gear this way.
Befriend your RiggerUnless you do all rigging yourself, your local rigger is a great person to be friends with. He is the person that is going to help you patch your canopy after you land it in the trees. He will help you install different brake settings. He will install a piece of velcro on your shoulder flap for hand held bridle routing. He might even squeeze in some last minute work if you need something in a hurry; perhaps because a friend just invited you on a BASE jump that same night.
Buy drinks for your rigger and donít hesitate to tip if he does an exceptional job. You tip the waitress in a restaurant, so why wouldnít you tip the guy that repairs your life saving device?
Watch Reserve RepacksPacking a skydiving reserve has many similarities with packing a BASE canopy. Seeing your rigger pack some reserves will teach you about what things are important, show you a few tips and techniques, and perhaps some useful tools. Of course, there are important differences as well. Donít think a reserve packjob alone will teach you how to pack for BASE. Nonetheless, it is useful to watch a few reserves being packed.
Learn First AidThe first few minutes after an accident are the most crucial to succesful treatment, and in BASE it can usually take a while for professional help to be available. When other jumpers on the load and groundcrew know first aid, they can make the difference between life and death.
Taking a first aid course should be mandatory for all BASE jumpers. Even better, take an outdoor oriented first aid course that emphasizes the type of injuries one might encounter in mountaineering (which are similar to what can happen in BASE) and has a focus on improvized treatment when well equipped first aid kits are not available.
Basejumper dedicates a section to BASE first aid. It is a recommended read, but should not be considered a replacement for a proper first aid course.
GroundcrewGroundcrewing is a great way to get a taste of what BASE is like. It is the best way to learn that BASE is not as romantic as the movies make it seem. You will be asked to make long drives, stay awake all night, wait in your car for hours while others get to have the fun of jumping, and maybe youíll even get to witness an accident, or find yourself being chased by the authorities.
Making a good impression at your local dropzone will get you a long way towards being invited as groundcrew. However, donít be surprised if it takes time to build such a relationship with the BASE jumpers on your dropzone. You are asking them to take you to secret locations that nobody else is supposed to know about. Unless they can trust you, they are not going to show you their local BASE jumping sites.
If the local BASE jumpers see you doing BASE specific canopy drills, and maybe even fly a BASE canopy, it is more likely they understand you are serious about getting into BASE and willing to pay the respect it deserves.
That said, donít just groundcrew for anybody. Just as jumpers can be picky about who comes groundcrewing, so should you be picky about who you groundcrew for. Especially in some areas, where BASE is becoming quite popular, the BASE scene can be split up in several groups. Not all BASE jumpers approach the sport with the respect it deserves, resulting in dayblazing and burning sites, jumping objects beyond their capability (increasing the chance of witnessing an accident), and generally teaching poor technique and ethics.
Groundcrewing is an extensive topic and Basjeumper has dedicated this page to it.
Paraglide and Groundlaunch
Paragliding and groundlaunching can be a great ways to get more canopy experience and gain experience with flying in environments different than your typical dropzone. They should not be considered proper replacements for skydiving training, because neither allow you to practice the crucial moment of a BASE jump; the opening sequence. It also doesnít give you any freefall skills.
Nevertheless, both sports can be great complements to a skydiving training program and will certainly give you great experience you can apply towards BASE. Paragliders are generally also better at analyzing weather conditions and reading the winds. Both skills that are crucial to BASE.
Take up Climbing or MountaineeringClimbing and mountaineering are excellent sports to pick up in preparation for BASE. Partially because there is some overlap in the physical and technical nature of the sports, but more importantly because the mindsets required in these type of sports is so much the same. It is sometimes said that BASE jumping has more in common with rock climbing than with skydiving, and from a certain point of view this is certainly true.
Letís look at the physical and technical aspects first. First, climbing will teach you rope techniques and moves that you might some day need to get to an exit point. The gear knowledge gained in climbing will be a tremendous asset in BASE. You might not have a direct need for climbing harnasses, karabiners and rope in BASE, but the general rigging type knowledge and attitude you will gain is certainly beneficial.
Mountaineering will help you gain the experience you need to reach remote exit points; some of the best and most beautiful exit points require long hikes and technical scrambles. Sometimes you will find yourself camping at the top, other times the weather conditions will force you to hike down in the dark, wearing a rig that is still packed, and a headlamp. Having general mountaineering and survival experience will be a great asset. It will help you plan your trip, what to bring, what not to bring, how to schedule it, etcetera. Itís a vast topic and Basejumper dedicates a page to remote jumping.
At this point you might be skeptical that climbing and mountaineering have something to offer to a prospective BASE jumper. The real benefits lie on a more philosophical level, which perhaps cannot be appreciated until you have experienced it. Both sports deal with risk management, involving decision making processes that translate directly back into BASE.
If youíre forced to handle the dissapointments youíll face in climbing (a wall is too technical) or mountaineering (the weather forced you down), you will mentally be prepared when you are going to face dissapointments in BASE. Itíll become less likely you will jump in less-than-optimal conditions because you are okay with waiting for another day.
Conversely, you will become more appreciative of the risk managment process and learn to identify the risks and decide whether or not they are worth it. Not all risks are always necessarily to be avoided. Mountaineering, climbing and BASE-jumping all involve risk taking. Getting experience in juggling risk-reward trade-offs is an essential skill in BASE jumping.
Do Platform Diving or Trampoline
In the skydiving section it was mentioned that (aside from tracking) great freefall skills are only useful to BASE to a certain extend. This is because all BASE jumps start in dead air, and your terminal flying skills wonít help you there. The best place to gain experience in dead air is by doing platform diving or trampoline training.
If you had to pick one, prefer platform diving. You can practice your BASE exits, perform aerials or do stability recovery exercises. The bottom line is that you spending a large amount of time in dead-air will help you gain confidence once you get into BASE. In fact, it might some day save your life. For example when you find yourself going head down after exit, you might be aware enough to quickly tuck in your legs and create a rotational moment that will turn you back upright.