Use the Proper Gear
One of the joys of spearfishing is the freedom to experience the ocean environment without being encumbered by loads of gear. Having said that, the demands of the sport make proper gear selction absolutely essential. Even as a beginner, get the best gear you can afford; it will make spearfishing more enjoyable, and it will be easier to progress in skill and ability.
Get (and stay) in Shape
Spearfishing is a physically demanding activity. Your enjoyment will increase as your physical fitness increases. Being fit also means being better able to manage the risk. Develop a workout schedule with the goal of becoming a better freediver capable of longer bottom time. Focus on aerobic activity like bicycling, and consider using an Air Restricting Device (ARD) as part of your daily workout. Finally, there is no substitute for swimming in terms of honing your body for optimal aquatic conditioning.
Understand Buoyancy and How to Use a Weight Belt
While nothing could seem simpler—slap some weight on a belt and affix it to your waist—truly understanding buoyancy and how to use a weight belt can literally make you a better spearfisherman overnight. Humans are naturally buoyant, and humans wearing wetsuits can be like corks. Without a properly weighted belt, you will have to fight to get underwater and to stay there. Energy exerted fighting buoyancy consumes valuable oxygen and makes you something far from stealthy.
Carry a Knife
While there is the obvious necessity of being capable of cutting yourself or your dive partner free of an entanglement, there are many other uses for a dive knife, not the least of which is killing a speared fish quickly and humanely. There are many choices when it comes to a dive knife, and much of it comes down to personal preferences over time. In short, carry a functional knife without being Rambo.
Use a Low Volume Mask
Yes, the volume of air inside your mask really does make a difference when freediving. As the spearfisherman dives, the mask—just the rest of his or her body—is subjected to greater and greater pressure. If the mask is not purged of air, discomfort and damage to the diver’s sinuses can result. To purge the air, the freediver exhales into the mask through his or her nose. The higher the volume of the mask, the more air is needed to equalize the mask’s pressure. Because a low volume mask requires less air to purge, the spearfisherman increases his or her bottom time simply by using the proper mask.
Always Practice Good Speargun Etiquette
A speargun is an underwater weapon and should only ever be loaded or fired underwater. Never modify the safety on your gun, and always be sure the safety is on before loading your gun. When discharging your gun underwater, know how far your spear will travel, and know what is in its path. Be aware of your gun’s recoil when shooting so as to avoid broken masks, teeth and noses. A speargun is a weapon—treat it as such.
Care for Your Gun
Keeping your gun in great working order is essential for success and safety. The best gun maintenance begins with properly caring for your speargun after every dive, including rinsing it in freshwater, allowing it to dry completely out of the sun, and then storing it in a cool, dark place. Store rubbers in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, and consider replacing them once a season. Before each dive, inspect your gun carefully and repair or replace any parts that are overly worn or broken.
Know Before You Go
Research each new divesite before you go, and try to dive each new site with a local the first time. Know the type of spearing you will be doing (reef, blue water, paddy, depth, etc.) and plan accordingly. Be sure to know the fishing regulations for the area and acquire any necessary licensees or stamps before entering the water. Know your limits and stay well within them at all times.