Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve always wanted to learn to Scuba dive. How do I get started?

The easiest way to get started is to contact us or come into the shop for a chat.

The first step to becoming a Scuba Diver is to take an Open Water course.

We will provide you with all the necessary materials. You can then read the book while you watch the DVDs at home.

We will schedule a convenient time for you to take the short quizzes and the final exam, combined with pool sessions to practice what you read and watched.

Once you have mastered the pool skills we will go diving in Open Water (usually Capernwray Quarry) or you can complete your course as part of an overseas holiday – after which you can be certified as an Open Water diver.

It really is that simple.

Is it hard to learn to Scuba dive?

No, in fact, it’s probably easier than you imagine – especially if you’re already comfortable in the water. PADI’s entry-level diver course is split into knowledge development, confined water (pool) skill training and four Open Water training dives. The course is “performance based,” which means that you progress as you learn and demonstrate knowledge and skill.

New Horizons are here to help and guide you through to becoming a safe and competent Scuba Diver.

My ears hurt when I dive to the bottom of a pool. Won't they hurt when I Scuba dive?

Your ears hurt because water pressure pushes in on your eardrum.

In your Scuba course, you’ll learn a simple technique to equalise your ears to the surrounding pressure, much like you do when you land in an airplane, and they shouldn’t hurt at all.

If you have concerns about your ears hurting then we recommend you go and see your Doctor before attending the course to get them checked out.

My working hours mean it will be difficult for me to attend one of your scheduled courses, do you have any other options?

Yes! Whilst we have scheduled courses running throughout the year, we also offer the flexibility to tailor an executive course around your availability.

How long does it take to get certified?

PADI courses are “performance based,” which means that you only earn your Scuba certification when you demonstrate that you have mastered the required skills and knowledge.

Some people learn faster than others, so how long it takes you may vary.

The PADI Open Water Diver course (beginning Scuba) is typically split into five sessions with tremendous flexibility. The course may be scheduled over a number of evenings and/or weekends or more intensive training is available.

As a rule of thumb, most students complete their initial certification in about 24 hours spread over 3 or 4 weekends.

The academic session takes about 8 hours, the pool a minimum of 4 hours, usually in separate sessions.

You must master all the pool skills before going on the the 4 Open Water dives.

The 4 Open Water dives are completed over 2 days with no more than 3 dives completed in one day.

How old do you have to be to get certified?

PADI requires you to be at least 10 years old to become a PADI certified Junior Open Water Scuba Diver. Ten and 11 year olds must dive with a certified parent, guardian or PADI Professional to a maximum depth of 12 metres (40 feet). Twelve to 14 year olds must dive with a certified adult. At age 15, the Junior certification upgrades to a regular Open Water Diver certification.

If your child is over the age of 8, you could also consider the PADI Bubblemakers and Seal Team courses which teach children of this age how to become a Scuba diver in a safe pool environment.

Do I have to be a great swimmer to be certified as a PADI Open Water Diver?

No. All you need to be is a reasonably proficient swimmer who is comfortable and relaxed in the water. The swimming requirement for certification is an easy 200 metre non-stop swim (with no time or specific stroke requirement) and 10 minute tread/float.

For how long will I be certified?

Your PADI Open Water certification does not expire, however, it is highly recommended that you keep in practice.

You should try and dive more than once a year if you are able but you can always take a Scuba Tune Up with a PADI instructor or Divemaster at any time to refresh your skills.

New Horizons offers continuing education classes which are very informative. Continuing with your Scuba education is an excellent way to keep in practice and learn more safe diving skills.

I've completed my Open Water training but don't know what to do next?

Simple answer to this one is to give us a call, or pop into the shop for a chat. We’ll soon work through the various options available to you and help you on your way – whether this is additional training, arranging a break (UK or abroad) or some day trip pleasure diving at one of the local UK sites or quarries.

You can also have a look at the Courses, Trips or Dive Society sections on the website to see what is going on and when.

What's in a Scuba tank? Oxygen?

Recreational divers breathe air, not oxygen. It’s filtered to remove impurities, but otherwise, it’s air like you’re breathing now.

How long does a tank of air last?

This is a common question that, unfortunately, doesn’t have a single answer.

Different factors affect the rate at which you breathe and people breathe at different rates. For example – you breathe faster when you’re swimming than when you’re resting, you use air at a greater rate at depth than you will in shallow water.

You can also get different size tanks – so some divers will have more air to use on a dive than others.

So, the answer is “it depends”. This is why divers have a gauge that tells them how much air they have at all times. As an approximation, a diver sightseeing in calm, warm water at 10 metres can expect the average tank to last about an hour.

Our advice is not to get too concerned about how long it lasts – just make the most of your time underwater and ascend safely from every dive – with air to spare.

Why should I join the dive society?

Take a look at our Dive Society web page for more details but benefits include discounted gear rental and shop purchases, free invitation to attend scheduled pool sessions to practice skills or try out new gear, monthly social nights with presentations from guest speakers and advance notification of Dive trips. In addition, being a member means that you are making a valuable financial contribution to protecting sharks, dolphins and whales (via the Shark Trust and Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS).

How deep may I go?

PADI is a recreational Scuba organisation. As an adult Open Water diver (aged over 15 years) you are qualified to dive to a maximum of 18 metres.

On successful completion of the Advanced Open Water course you are qualified to dive to 30 metres.

To qualify to dive down to 40 metres you need to complete the PADI Deep Diver Specialty.

It is important to complete the relevant training before attempting deep dives as following the proper procedures is critical to a fun and safe time under water.

Is Scuba diving dangerous?

Not really. Statistics show that recreational Scuba diving is about as safe as swimming.

Certainly there are potential hazards – which is why you need training and certification – but like driving a car, as long as you follow the rules and use common sense, it’s pretty safe.

To put it in perspective, the drive in your car to go diving is more dangerous than the diving.

What are the Bends?

A long time ago when workers were breathing compressed air while working underwater, sometimes they would get decompression sickness or “the Bends”.

Their joints would hurt and make them bend over.

This is caused by staying underwater too long and coming up too fast. Tiny bubbles would form in their joints, something like the tiny bubbles that form in a soda bottle when you open it.

Just like the soda bottle, if you shake it and open it too soon or fast too many bubbles will form. With all the new technology “the bends” is easily avoided.

PADI divers are recreational divers. We will teach you how to safely dive within the limits to avoid getting the bends.

Don’t worry diving is fun, easy and safe. We will teach you how to relax and enjoy your dive.

Do I have to buy Scuba gear?

No you don’t have to buy Scuba gear.

Full gear rental is available from New Horizons – at a significantly reduced rate for members of the Dive Society.

However, we want to see you out diving as often as possible, so it makes economical sense to buy your own equipment if you’re going to be diving on a regular basis.

Pop into the shop at any time to see our full range of equipment and we’ll give you sensible advice about the best options to meet your needs (and your bank balance). You can also browse on line through some of the items we stock our shop.

Most of our divers have built up their equipment over a period of time.

Do you sell any second hand equipment?

Whilst we don’t sell second hand equipment on a regular basis we do replace our equipment used for training and rental on a regular basis so that we ensure we have the highest quality equipment for our divers. However, because the equipment used by New Horizons is well maintained we do advertise the sale of good quality second hand equipment being replaced in our newsletter, available exclusively to Dive Society members.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or require further information, please telephone on 0161 223 5102 or call in to the dive centre.