Booking on to a course is a great way to add new tools to your skills box, or to refresh and sharpen up those that you already have and to have a whole pile of fun into the bargain. It’s also a brilliant way to meet like-minded people and to swap ideas, knowledge and experiences. Here are ten of our favourite courses to wet your learning whistles and to help convince you that one fast track route to more fun on the water is to GO book on a course…
Getting a Taste
A gateway into the wonderful world of canoeing & kayaking! Introductory courses, 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.
Canoeing or Kayaking For Families
There are plenty of courses now available aimed at the entire family. Paddlesport is a fantastic way of enjoying the great outdoors together as a family and what better way to learn, and have a whole heap of fun, than with your nearest and dearest?
The BCU Star Tests
The British Canoe Union 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 yourself. 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.
Specific Discipline ‘Intro’ Courses
If you already know what discipline 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.
Learning to Eskimo 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!
Basic Coastal 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.
Safety & Rescue
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.
Become a River Leader
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.
Bush Craft Skills
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!
Paddler Expert View – Ross Montandon, BCU Aspirant Level 5 Coach
“Getting on a good coaching course has never been easier, along with a really high standard of great coaches being readily accessible for anyone looking to fast track their learning and skills. By enrolling on a canoeing or kayaking course it will enable you to improve very quickly and iron out any creases in your paddling. As you can see from this article there are courses that look at specific areas or disciplines, such as rolling or sea kayaking for examples. Or there are courses that cover many different aspects of paddle-sport for those that aren’t sure of what aspects of paddling they really enjoy yet. Getting coached can really help increase your knowledge, understanding of the sport and the environment we paddle n and your personal skills, which will all go towards making your time more rewarding and fun. So what are you waiting for jump go on a course!