I want to BASE jump!
Throwing yourself out of planes isn’t exciting enough anymore, and you want to learn to BASE jump? Cool. First things first. Yes, you can take the easy way: find a friend dumb enough to loan you a BASE rig, and just go jump off something tall. After all, how hard can it be?!
Well, let’s be real—the jumping part is easy. The “landing without broken legs or death” part is a bit harder. Plus, while you might think that being an idiot and breaking yourself hurts only you, it also makes the rest of us look bad. Just don’t.
So let’s talk about the slightly longer, but much safer, way to do things.
Work Your Way Up to Base Jumping by Skydiving
Numero uno: rack up some skydives. Skydiving is the safer of the two parachuting sports and is much more friendly to beginners. All reputable BASE courses require you to have at least 200 skydives before they’ll teach you. Now, this doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely be ready at 200 skydives.
Beginners typically start with a tandem skydive or two to get the feel for it. Next comes AFF, the accelerated freefall course. Next, you can progress toward getting your USPA “A” License at a minimum of 25 jumps. Clear 50 jumps for a B license and you’re well on your way to base jumping as the next parachuting sport on your list.
More Training Makes you Safer
BASE jumping is the kind of sport where more training and preparation will only make you safer, so don’t rush it. If you feel like you still have things to learn at 200 jumps, keep jumping and wait a bit before taking that first BASE jump course. The bridge will still be there when you’re ready.
What type of skydives will help you train for BASE? Well, you’re most likely to learn to BASE jump doing subterminal jumps off a bridge. Your airborne control skills won’t translate well between these two parachuting sports. Terminal skydiving skills aren’t going to help you there because you won’t be falling fast enough to control yourself the way you do on a skydive. That part you’ll need to train separately. What is important to train in skydiving is your canopy skills. Between skydiving and base jumping, you need to become the best canopy pilot you can.
Practice With a CReW Canopy
One great way to do this is to go on some CReW jumps with experienced CReW Dogs. What is CReW? CReW is Canopy Relative Work, or canopy formation flying. CReW is great if you want to learn to BASE jump because you’ll spend the whole time in this parachuting sport under canopy, learning to fly your canopy using all inputs available, and flying relative to other people, which gives you a great frame of reference for how your actions affect your flight.
As a bonus, CReW canopies are very similar to BASE canopies—far more similar than standard skydiving canopies. How do you find your local CReW (or CRW) dogs? Ask the organizers at your dropzone or check your local skydiving groups on Facebook.
Find A First BASE Jump Course
Now that you’ve got over 200 skydives, you’ve done some CReW, you’re feeling good about your canopy skills, and you’ve skydived enough that you feel like you’re good in high-pressure situations and you keep your head well. Now you can hit up one of the people teaching first BASE jump courses, or even better, you can take a pre-first BASE jump course from Next Level.
There you’ll learn to back a BASE rig, jump your BASE canopy on skydives to learn how it flies, and learn some theory so you’re super prepared and ready to go before you even get to your first jump course. This is essential instruction for transitioning from one parachuting sport to another.
Remember, there’s no such thing as being too prepared or too ready. While money may seem like a big factor, getting the right training is always worth the investment and will more than pay for itself in the long run.
If you’re learning skydiving or base jumping in Southern California, do it at Skydive Taft, one of the most established drop zones in the USA. Experienced instructors there can help you through every step of the way, giving you the confidence to tackle any parachuting sport you set your sights on.
See you on an exit point somewhere!