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benlangfeld

Getting people interested in 4-way

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Hello all!

I'm a new jumper, with a year in the sport and 150 jumps, and my home dropzone is Skydive Resende, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. It's a Caravan DZ that operates only on weekends and typically sends up about 15-20 loads on a Saturday and 10-15 on a Sunday.

I want to train and compete in 4-way, but I'm having trouble finding anyone else with similar goals. In Brazilian nationals this year, there were 2 teams in the Inter category, so no-one got a medal. Open was a little better with about 6-8 teams, but still small. I'd like to do ~15-20 training jumps a month and compete in the Inter category next year. I'd like to take training seriously with a real team.

At my DZ, there always seem to be a lot of students, but then they seem to vanish. There are a lot of casual fun jumpers who do maybe 2-5 jumps a month at most and treat skydiving more like a fun way to hang out with friends than as a sport, but I expect the cost is a lot to do with it; these people typically get out and try to build a star and that's about it. The people who jump seriously all seem to want to do angle or VFS. There is no 4-way culture at all, and I don't see any teams training.

So, here's the question: am I wasting my time going after this? Is the downward trend in RW participation unstoppable, or is there a way to get people interested in it again and build a RW scene at a dropzone where it's not fashionable?

Any tips would be great! Blue skies.

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Yes IMO belly is decreasing. Partly because of what is known as "dilution." All that means is more activities, math wise means less belly jumpers.

The other part is it is actually harder to put 4 or more people in the air that want to jump together and progress. Face it you need others for big ways or 4 ways. With so much dilution taking place, all that is frequently left is pick up or random 4 ways, which generally don't last long. And can be very frustrating. Combine that with "Local groups." and many find the price of admission too high. Think "clicks." More than once I have heard, "were not accepting newbies or others," "we don't want to waste 30 bucks, if you blow the jump."

Is belly and especially 4 way harder to learn, yes it is. Not putting FF or head down, down, but Belly in groups is harder.

Other issues that come into play are the personalities and psychology, it does take effort to deal with each other in 4 way, something that just isn't that prevalent in FF. Combine this ability to get along with others and you can see why so many digress into solo and FF. It requires LESS communication and coping skills in the FF community. This is attractive to many, same applies to Wing suits. There is just less psychological demands placed upon the participants.


Is it worth it?

If you want to be the best in the air, 4 way is the only way. Fact is any competent 4 way member can switch and learn other skydiving disciplines, but it really doesn't work the other way round.

Trips to Eloy for the 4 way and RW camps are a great idea if you have the cash. Many other places run them as well.

Your certainly not wasting your time, small steps and persistence. Finding other like minded individuals willing to commit to learn and jump more often and together will help. Not getting frustrated. And winning the lottery all help.
Brett Bickford Did Not Commit Suicide.

He is the victim of ignorance and faulty gear. AND as in the movie: "12 Angry Men," of an ignorant and callous jury.

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I don't think you're wasting your time. In my area (we now have 3 DZs within about an hour from where I am), when I started jumping, I felt there were very few people interested in RW. There is still a big majority of people who mainly want to freefly, but due to the efforts of a few people, and primarily one experienced female skydiver, there is a real culture around belly group skydives building and I (with just over 200 jumps) am now part of a serious 4-way team.

I think all it takes is one person willing to be an organizer and show up regularly to organize multi-way belly jumps. New people will automatically gravitate to that, and I found that even at a DZ with mostly very experienced super-cool freeflyers, some of them have been joining us for many jumps, because of the feeling of the group and because 4-way (or 8-way) belly jumping is simply very much fun, when done right.

Anyway, I'd encourage you to become the person taking the lead. Even if you do not find some more experienced belly-jumpers, the new people will benefit tremendously.

I wouldn't necessarily agree with ChrisD2.0 that belly 4-way is the most difficult discipline (I've been watching and occasionally been lucky to jump with some of the top Artistic freefly jumpers and that is no easy discipline, for sure!) BUT I think at anywhere near our level, multi-way belly FS jumps allow for so much more learning and visible progress than most other disciplines. On every 4-way jump I can take something away, and often improve it on the next jump. At my level, when I spend a day "freeflying" (I put this in quotes on purpose!) usually all I can tell is: "Well we did seem to hold the head-down exit for a few seconds, and we stayed in the same general zip code throughout the jump--so it was a good jump!" (unless I'm jumping with very experienced jumpers who can track me down and get me to experience a couple of docks)

Anyway, I agree with you and ChrisD2.0: 4-way RW is a blast! (and certainly not easy)

Don't give up!

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I think it depends on your DZ culture. Skydive Perris has a great LO program and goes after the newer jumpers and helps foster their growth. They do a lot of belly oriented events as well teaching everything from basics to advanced. They also do big ways there which helps but its not something all DZs can do.

The LOs are coach rated and get their slot paid for by the DZ. On the bright side though they keep people organized and jumping. This especially helps newer people because they get experience with jumps designed to help them succeed while keep it fun for people who may have thousands of jumps.

You are not going to make everyone belly fly overnight. If you promote it especially with newer jumpers then you can slowly grow it. You can also try and promote some fun events like speed stars or just low key four way contests for DZ bragging rights.

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Ignore Chris2.0. He has a long history of trying to BS people. While 4-way is demanding, to imply that doing FF or RW at the same competitive level is less demanding is false. In 4-way if you mess up the dive flow, you miss the point. In WS if you mess up the dive flow, you (potentially) run into another person with a 50+ MPH speed differential and die. Same can happen with FF in some cases if you're not careful.

Anyway, 4-way is still a quite common discipline and belly in general. It really depends on your DZ. Most DZs (and areas in general) tend to favor one type of discipline. I have been to a few DZs where 4-way is very common and I've seen three different 4-way teams on one load.

Regarding students leaving after getting licensed and people only showing up once and awhile, that's common with most activities in general. Most people only get into a sport very informally. It takes dedication to show up to the DZ every Sat and Sun from first load to sunset. Many people just are not committed to skydiving at that level, they just like to do it on occasion.

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Try organizing a Scrambles. You can try to get newer jumpers paired up with more experienced 4-way flyers and get them used to having fun turning points in 4-way. There are a few good threads on here about them. I ran one at my DZ a few years ago.

We had prizes from lots of the big gear manufacturers, and I arranged for one of Canada's 4-way team champions to come down and coach for the weekend.

The only thing I really forgot to organize, was qualified camera flyers. Hindsight is 20/20. If I did it again, I'd charge a small registration fee to secure more prizes, and incentives for camera flyers to film the 4-way teams. It might be a good way to get started and gauge and foster interest.

Good luck!!:)
PULL!! or DIE!!

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