So the first question in your mind is obviously: So, how safe is skydiving? And the frank answer is: Skydiving is not ten pin bowling. There are some very real risks involved when learning how to skydive but as with any other "extreme" sport there is a direct relationship between your knowledge, skill and attitude and your chances of enjoying the sport for many years to come.
As you probably know statistics can be manipulated to tell you whatever you want to hear. They can be manipulated to make skydiving look very safe or very dangerous. We're not going to swamp you with numbers to tell you how skydiving is "safer than crossing the street" or try to prove to you that "it's safer to skydive than to drive to your local store". The USPA over a 10 year period reports an average of about 35 skydiving fatalities per year in the USA. Skydivers make hundreds of thousands of jumps each year. It is a sport with very real risks (otherwise you might not be interested!), but those can be easily and effectively mitigated through training and good judgment.
Considering that students comprise the bulk of participants in the sport, relatively few fatal accidents involve student skydivers. This is due largely to the design of skydiving equipment used for students and the quality of instruction and care provided at most skydiving schools. All parachutes are designed for reliability, but student gear is also designed to be easy to use and forgiving.
Skydiving accidents rarely result from equipment failure or bad luck. Remember: knowledge, skill and attitude. It's about you as the individual. Even though this is a dangerous sport, if you learn how to skydive and exercise your new skills, keep your cool and do everything you're taught to do, you should be fine.
What Are The Requirements When Learning How To Skydive?
In most countries there are some requirements for medical fitness. These are seldom very prohibitive but make sure you know what they are for the country you're in. In the USA, all skydivers must meet the USPA's Basic Safety Requirements for medical fitness. This simply means you have to be in good health and physical condition to skydive and should not be on medication which could affect judgment or performance. Some medical conditions can be properly managed if the instructor knows about them. Make sure to mention any heart conditions or episodes of black-outs. If you have recently gone SCUBA diving or donated blood, you may have to wait a few days. When in doubt, ask your doctor and mention it to your instructor.
Again this varies from one country to the next, so it behooves you to ask this question when you call your DZ learning how to skydive. In the USA minors who are at least 16 years of age and have notarized parental or guardian consent may be allowed to participate in some training programs at some schools, according to state and school policies. The person providing consent for a minor may be required to observe all pre-jump instruction. Most commonly, schools require all participants to be at least 18 years of age.
Once you've completed your ground training or first jump course (FJC), it is common practice and good teaching procedure for students to be required to pass written, oral, and practical tests before you'll be allowed to make your fist jump. Don't panic! The written tests are normally a quick check of your knowledge and understanding. Oral tests are used to exercise and build your decision-making ability and practical tests are structured so you can show your reactions and skills. All of these are necessary to assure the instructor that you are ready to make a safe jump. It should also give you confidence that you're ready to go out there, have fun, and be safe!
Now that you learned how to skydive and understand the risk and have a good idea of some of the requirements, it's time for some more fun stuff! Next, you need to choose how you'd like to be introduced to the sport.