I'm reaching out to the BASE community 7 MONTHS before my trip in an effort to learn
7 months is really not a long time. You should know all the answers you're asking way before actually laying down dates to do a course.
You're getting the right advice here, read the fatality list, read the Big Book of Base, keep skydiving, learn about rigging and canopy control, read up about course options, then you'll be a bit more ready.
And, finally, I realize that there are gate-keepers, people who--deservedly or not--assume the role of filtering out irresponsible undesirables trying to sneak past convention and prudence. I submit that you put me in this 'undesirable' category way too fast and with way too little information. Perhaps people with cooler heads and a little more insightfulness and thoroughness ought to stand guard? Also, I realize that it is possible that my initial post was indeed terribly worded and grossly misleading; if so, I take full responsibility and I apologize to everyone. I pledge to be more careful with what I say.
I'd be curious to hear what some of the elder statesman have to say. If you wanna chime in, I'll stand at attention, all ears. I realize I'm Mr. Nobody not-even-new-guy-yet so maybe I should just STFU. Anyways, when's the last time anyone saw Big Trouble in Little China?
Disclaimer: I'm not a statesman and not even a BASE jumper anymore, but I do qualify as "elder", so here goes.
Your first post came off like you were wanting to shortcut and that is obviously a trigger for many here. Maybe be more clear about what you want to do. If you simply want to make a PCA to check it off your bucket list, then that is an entirely different scenario than if you are looking at taking up BASE as a sport that you engage in regularly. Nothing wrong with either one, but I suggest being more clear about what you want out of the sport.
As far as gatekeepers go, there really aren't any true gatekeepers. Nobody can stop you from making a BASE jump if you are truly driven to do it but they can refuse to help you, and that does happen. Occasionally I see a post from someone who obviously wants to shortcut the process and helping someone like that is basically assisting a suicide. Don't be surprised at hostile reactions if someone thinks you want to shortcut.
The good news is that there are more good resources for learning BASE than there have ever been before. There were no real courses when I started but things have changed enough that if I ever decide to get back into BASE I will almost certainly take a course. Your first post seemed to have an almost dismissive attitude toward BASE courses because of cost and schedule considerations. If you want to get into BASE and do it on a regular basis, my suggestion is to find a way to take a course. Doing it "old school", i.e., with a mentor is possible but will probably not give you as good an education as a course.
So please post again but be specific about what you are looking to get out of your experience. Do you just want to try BASE to see if you like it? If so, maybe ground crew and see what it looks like in person a few times. It's not for everyone.
Do you want to just do one or two and call it quits? PCA is probably not a bad way to go in that case.
Do you want to do it for your ego? There are far safer ways to boost your ego.
Doing it "old school", i.e., with a mentor is possible but will probably not give you as good an education as a course.
I totally disagree on that. I do think mentoring is usually at least as good as courses if not better, specially because mentoring is not for 1 or 2 weeks but for month or years. A mentor will probably not have the same knowledge as an instructor but will know who can teach the missing parts, all for free so the money can be used to jump more and get more experience without rushing.
This is my own opinion based on what I saw along these years, there is not any serious study to prove I'm right or wrong.
(This post was edited by AntoineLaporte on Feb 2, 2019, 10:11 AM)
The best mentors are far better than taking a course.
Unfortunately, roughly 90% of the "mentors" I've seen in the past ten years have just been middle experience jumpers PCAing someone from their DZ off a bridge, and then leaving them to their own devices.
Old school mentoring would be the best system--if there were really enough qualified, conscientious mentors out there. Unfortunately, as it is, you have to be both very lucky and very persistent to really find a quality mentor.
At this point, my best advice is to find a quality mentor, if you can, and then take a course from someone else. If possible, have your mentor attend the course as well, so that you can discuss things with your mentor as you learn (and so the mentor knows what your knowledge and skills are like). Then return home and jump with your mentor as often as possible.
In one case, I know a new jumper who's mentor made the next 200 jumps (over a period of about 18 months) with them. In another case, I know a guy who lived in a van with his mentor for two months of BASE road trip, and made nearly 200 jumps in those two months. Those are really the kind of situations you should be aiming for with a real mentor.
Unfortunately, I also know people who's "mentor" was someone who lived several hours away, and who they occasionally talked to on the phone--but who never made a jump with them.
In the same way that all courses are not the same (even more so, actually), all mentors are not the same.
Like Tom said, in Strayan speak, cunt isn't a profanity. Never mess with Strayans. They'll tell you exactly what they think. I have some really good friends on the other island off the coast of NZ. Good buggers, they all are.
Typical Strayan BASE jumpers' greeting: "G'day cunt".
Good luck and have fun with your BASE journey. If you ever get to NZ there is a small team that would be happy to show you some exits in the central North Island, as long as you've had some experience first. We are not mentors, nor instructors. We don't qualify, sorry.
I'd be curious to hear what some of the elder statesman have to say. If you wanna chime in, I'll stand at attention, all ears. I realize I'm Mr. Nobody not-even-new-guy-yet so maybe I should just STFU.
(1) Sorry, but, he's accurate... 10 to 15 years ago on this forum, it would've been far, far worse.
(2) Forget about BASE this summer. And certainly don't do another 100 skydives just to have more numbers; unless you still need the canopy skills. But you should obviously stay current; and be having fun.
Go to Bridge Day... what you are asking for (in not the best way), you can do at NRGB. Take one of the Intro FJC's like I did at BD 2004 (structured a bit different now, last time I inquired), despite the FACT that I already knew every single thing spoken to. Rent gear from Apex and if you enjoy it, the rental cost goes towards a new rig. You get gear checks, rescue boats, EMS is present, and you can meet a whole slew of people. It's an absolute blast. I've never gone to BD, and not gotten a jump in; never less than two, actually.
Story: About a year into skydiving, I had a freefly buddy who also became interested in BASE around the same time myself and jvair had. (Neither of us felt we were ready, so we waited till 2004.) This guy borrowed a velcro rig from an AFF instructor (and Atair Test Pilot -- some twin, good chunk of A's [mostly 600ft - lazy climber], but primarily a BD jumper), and went to BD 2003. He landed in the water, packed up himself, and headed back up to make a second jump. He later stated that his first jump terrified him... and so he made the second jump, to confirm that terror, and that he never, ever, wanted to do it again.
Point Being: Nationals Competitor. Very Experienced Skydiver and Canopy Pilot (I honed much of my head down offering to video him and his teammate). BASE wasn't for him. But he learned how to pack, obtained the knowledge he needed, and did want he wanted safely.
So before you spend money on any full course, go to Bridge Day.
(3) If you had been reading this forum with the intensity to which myself and others had before starting, there is no way you would've worded your post(s) in the way you did; you would've known exactly what to expect.
(4) No Worries; as long as you don't turn into one of these damn Teaching Assistant of Adventure jackasses.
(5) Am I still in the Great Book of BASE...? Rapoza! Fuck Yeah! . .