One of the great things about paddling is that there’s just so much to learn and experience they can never get boring. The more you paddle the more your skills will develop but a great way of quickly improving and gaining great experience and knowledge, to help you get more out of your time on the water is to book on a course with a professional coach.
Booking on to a course is a great way to fast track your personal skills and increase your knowledge. It’s also a brilliant way to meet like-minded people and to swap ideas, knowledge and experiences. Here are just ten, of the myriad of courses open to you, to inspire you to learn a bit more and to help convince you that one fast track route to more loads fun on the water is to GO book on a course
Dipping A Paddle
A great way to dip a paddle into the wonderful world of canoeing & kayaking, especially if there’s a specific type of paddling that’s caught your fancy is an introductory course. These are also sometimes known as ‘taster’ courses and allow you to give various styles of canoeing and kayaking a try, to see if you enjoy them and want to take them further. You’ll learn about the various styles of canoes and kayak and you’ll learn the basics to get you moving on the water. Come rain or shine these course are always great fun and an ideal introduction into the sport.
Be a Paddling Star
The British Canoeing runs the coaching scheme in the UK and their Star Test awards are respected all over the world. They range from entry level right up to advanced paddling in demanding conditions and have been designed to help you progress into the coaching scheme, and maybe even become a coach your self. These are usually run over a single day, or sometimes a weekend for more advance awards, where there’s more to take in. As well as actual assessments there are also plenty of training courses to prepare you, and hone your skills for the tests themselves. The Star Tests cover all the basic skills that you need to know to be safe on the water and to control your boat with ease, so they are certainly worth doing to gain a solid foundation. Many canoe clubs will also run and assess Star test courses and assessments too.
There are plenty of courses now available aimed at the entire family. Canoeing and kayaking are brilliant ways of enjoying the great outdoors together as a family, and what better way to learn, and have a whole load of fun on the water than with your nearest and dearest?
If you already know what discipline of paddling floats your boat then there are also many ‘intro’ courses available to learn the basics. These are available for most disciplines of paddlesport, flat-water, Sit-On-Top, whitewater, open canoeing, sea kayaking the lot! These courses are designed to take you into that particular discipline of the sport so you can learn the specific skills needed to progress in that area.
For example on an ‘intro to sea kayaking’ course you’d learn about basic boat control skills, a little navigation, all about kit and safety gear, planning your own trips, that sort of thing.
A basic knowledge of first aid is a really valuable skill in general, and even more for those playing in the great outdoors, accidents can happen, so a first aid course makes perfect sense. But why not crank it up a few notches and take a more in-depth course. It’s a good feeling knowing that in an emergency you’ve got that little bit more knowledge to help out your paddling friends in a time of need.
Learn to Roll
Although not essential being able to roll a kayak it is a very valuable skill to possess, and it’s really not that hard once you know how. There are plenty of courses available for both kayakers and canoeists and why stop at one style of roll, you could learn the front and reverse screw roll, the C-to-C roll or, if you get really good, even to ditch the paddle all together and learn to hand roll!
Sea Kayak Navigation
An essential skill if you want to undertake your own trips on the sea. Charts, tides, weather, it all sounds a bit scary, but it’s not as complicated as it sounds and a basic course on navigation will help you demystify it, break it all down, and increase your knowledge and understanding and get to grips with those salty sea dog skills that’ll make your trips on the sea safer and more fun.
No matter how good, and careful you think you are, sooner or later something is not going to go to plan. Having a solid working knowledge of safety and rescue techniques and the ability to form a plan quickly is a skill that you owe to yourself and anyone that you paddle with. The smallest incident can quickly grow into a more serious event if it’s not dealt with properly, so attending a rescue course is a sensible solution to make sure you’re as ready as you can be.
Learn to Lead
If you paddle regularly with a club or a group of friends it makes sense to learn the skills that will allow you to lead a group down the river safely. Paddling styles, group dynamics, equipment, incident management and how to spot and prevent potential hazards before they occur, there’s certainly a lot to consider. It’s often a demanding course but ultimately very rewarding.
Yep, Ray Mears has a lot to answer for! But when you think about it canoes and kayaks are designed to help you get out into the wilds, so it makes sense to learn a few skills that’ll make spending time in the outdoors more comfortable, and more fun. Lighting fires, backwoods cooking, building shelters, they’re all in a day’s adventure for the bushcraft course attending canoeist or kayaker!
So if you want to learn something new, or really sharpen up your existing skills, don’t delay, book on to a course today.