I Just Earned My A License … Now What?

After months of hard work, countless trips to the drop zone and a painful financial commitment, you are finally the proud recipient of a USPA A License. In the blink of an eye, you have graduated from being a carefully guarded and supervised student to a licensed skydiver under the watchful eye of … well … nobody. So, now what? 

This early stage of a skydiving career can be a difficult time for many jumpers. Some even leave the sport soon after earning their licenses. But being a newly licensed skydiver doesn’t need to be frustrating or scary. With the right attitude and some guidance from helpful mentors, you can continue to learn and have fun in a safe manner. You’re just getting started, and everything is new, so it is only natural to need help transitioning. Whether you have questions about gear, freefall, canopy piloting or something else, help is available and usually easy to find.

One of the most common areas of confusion regards gear. There are so many choices when it comes to buying equipment, where do you start? The absolute worst thing you could do is to just blindly start buying stuff while taking advice from an unknown source on the internet. Seek out advice and guidance from your local drop zone staff. The instructors and riggers who helped you earn your license can also help you navigate through the endless sea of skydiving gear so you can find what is appropriate for you at your current skill level. Of course, you can end up pointed in the wrong direction by taking advice from a local, too. So, proceed with caution, crosscheck the advice with more than one instructor, do your research and use some common sense. 

Along with the challenges of finding gear, you’ll also be navigating the drop zone as a newly licensed jumper. It can be intimidating and overwhelming to start jumping with others, and you will probably be afraid of messing up their skydives. But don’t let that stop you from stepping out of your comfort zone and introducing yourself to the regulars at the drop zone. Chances are you already know many of them from being at the drop zone as a student. Remember, every single experienced skydiver on the drop zone was in your shoes, starting off as a fledgling jumper. Most experienced jumpers are happy to have you join them on a skydive and help you work on improving your skills. But, just like your pursuit of buying gear, you need to proceed with caution while you begin to spread your wings and fly with others. 

Whether you are an aspiring freeflyer, formation skydiver, canopy formation jumper or pond swooper, each discipline requires proper training and a sensible path toward advancing to more challenging skydives. Most experts agree that all skydivers need to have solid belly-flying skills as a foundation to build on, regardless of which discipline they choose to pursue. So, set goals, proceed with caution, get coaching and have fun. There’s a whole world of skydiving out there waiting for you to discover and plenty of help to get you there safely and with confidence. Before you know it, a newly licensed skydiver will be asking you for advice.

Jim Crouch | D-16979 | USPA Director of Safety & Training

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