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yobnoc

Beginner WL

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Hi all!  I'm sure I'm going to catch some serious crap for this, but here it goes anyway:

Before you all chime in about discussing with my DZO and local S&TA/coaches, I've been doing that consistently.  I'm just also looking for general advice from the broader community, though I may end up regretting it.

I started AFF last memorial day weekend, so I've been in the sport only just over a year.  I currently only have 67 jumps.  I fly a Parachute Systems Vortex container with a Volt 210 and a decelerator 189 reserve.  I'm also 6'4 and 225lb, so I'm at roughly a 1.2 WL, which is considered way too high for my experience level according to all the literature.

That said, I'm very comfortable flying this canopy, and with the exception of accuracy, which I'm working on (I'm not terrible, but I'd like to get better), I have very consistent, soft, and stand-up or jogging (depending on wind speed) landings, with very few exceptions that are moreso due to my being a little clumsy and tripping over my own feet. 

So, I guess my question is: should I heed the literature and stay where I'm at until I'm up in the 600 jump range?  Seems like a long time.  What exact skills should I use as a metric to decide when it's time to go down?

 

Edit: The reason I'm asking is not because I'm in a rush to downsize for the hell of it.  It's because I can't do any more than a 270 on front risers without the loop ripping out of my hand.  And that's with going into it immediately after a toggle stall.

Edited by yobnoc

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2 hours ago, yobnoc said:

So, I guess my question is: should I heed the literature and stay where I'm at until I'm up in the 600 jump range?  Seems like a long time.  What exact skills should I use as a metric to decide when it's time to go down?

As pointed out above, billvon has a nice checklist, but to me, the question I ask is: you're flying to altitude and suddenly the pilot declares an emergency and orders everyone out.  Now you have to land in a parking lot (or maybe a small backyard), and there are no indicators about how the wind is blowing.  Are you happy with the size of your canopy and your ability to land without any major injury?  If so, then okay.  If not, maybe think about getting something bigger.

In other words, think about what size you want your canopy to be when things are going to shit, not when landing on grass, into the wind.

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Brian' chart and Bill's checklist are good references.

Different people progress at different rates. Unfortunately we are often the worst judge of our own skills. That's why an objective set of skills to demonstrate (Bill's list) and an outside observer are really good ideas.

 

One thing to remember is that the W/L stuff is most suited for average sized jumpers. You are more towards the 'big' end of the spectrum. 
Aerodynamic performance doesn't scale in a linear manner.
For a variety of reasons, bigger jumpers can be safe under higher W/L than 'standard'. Not a lot higher, but somewhat.
At the other end, smaller jumpers will be less safe under the 'standard' W/L. 
 

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Personally I'd be more worried about your reserve size than your main.  Figuring 25 pounds for gear, your exit weight is about 250. Your reserve is a 189. That's a 1.3 wingloading.  

Ghost mentioned landing your main in a tight area due to a poor spot, etc.. Along the same lines, have you ever jumped a seven cell at a 1.3 wingloading?  Do you want your first jump on one to be at sunset on a long spot over houses or trees? Downwind? Shit happens. If you aren't real accurate with your main yet, are you going to be able to land your reserve in a safe place in less than ideal conditions?

As for downsizing, higher wingloadings generally equal faster landing speeds. If running a landing out now can have you tripping over your feet, is that going to improve when you are going faster?  Broken ankles hurt.

Just a few things to think about...

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8 hours ago, skybytch said:

Personally I'd be more worried about your reserve size than your main.  Figuring 25 pounds for gear, your exit weight is about 250. Your reserve is a 189. That's a 1.3 wingloading.  

Ghost mentioned landing your main in a tight area due to a poor spot, etc.. Along the same lines, have you ever jumped a seven cell at a 1.3 wingloading?  Do you want your first jump on one to be at sunset on a long spot over houses or trees? Downwind? Shit happens. If you aren't real accurate with your main yet, are you going to be able to land your reserve in a safe place in less than ideal conditions?

As for downsizing, higher wingloadings generally equal faster landing speeds. If running a landing out now can have you tripping over your feet, is that going to improve when you are going faster?  Broken ankles hurt.

Just a few things to think about...

I appreciate all the thoughtful comments, especially here where I was expecting at least 3 people to say "Can I be on your ash dive?"

I recognize that I'm at a WL that is not recommended per the chart until I'm at 260 jumps.  During my AFF I was placed on a 220 at the discretion of the DZO and S&TA who had observed me closely on a 260 and 240 during my training.  From there, while I was between AFF and my A license, I was placed on a 200 for a couple jumps.  These are Navigators though, so we're talking about a docile canopy to begin with. 

A 190 is not ideal for my reserve, I'm aware.  I made the decision for a number of reasons, but a 190 is the largest reserve canopy that will fit in my container.  Am I looking forward to my first reserve ride?  Ehhh...let's just say I'm going to PLF that landing intentionally.  I do not know what it's going to be like riding a 7 cell, because I haven't ridden one before - true.  There's a reason I've gone and purchased extra insurance for skydiving, and I have a pretty good ST and LT disability program at work.  Trust me: I'm thinking about these things as a father of two little humans.

I want to remain as safe as possible while still challenging myself to learn.  Thank you for the input and the resources; the list of canopy skills is definitely helpful.  I'm looking forward to jumping with you folks someday, as my wife and I are incorporating this sport with our travel and vacation plans. 

Blue skies!

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18 hours ago, SethInMI said:

Bill Von Novak downsizing checklist was always the recommended thing:

Full disclosure: Despite having known about the checklist for many years, I have never attempted some of the things on it and I have downsized several times...

 

I'm looking at the 90 degree flat turn at 50 feet.  I'm pretty sure if I tried that at my home DZ I'd get the shit kicked out of me by the other jumpers behind me in traffic, and either temporarily or permanently banned.

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You my friend are in my field. The standard chart does not apply to all people the same. The least to us big guys. The charts are considered as safe average, but don't take into consideration a lot of factors. A 1.3 WL on 190 for you is much less agressive than 1.3 for someone on a 150-135.

Ask your dz instructors and riggers what they think about downsizing for you and your flying. And most importantly try a few jumps yourself and see how you react to it, learn to asses yourself. You will always have screamers against and the dz cool 65kilo dwarfs that ill shout "downsize man". If you can pretty much land in no wind, crosswind, downwind and be accurate while doing it I see no problem in downsizing

If it is any help I'm making comparison video on Volts (185 vs 150), so you will get atleast some feeling how things react under a smaller wing. We jump pretty much the same height and weight.

 

 

 

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Awesome!  Yeah I was told by my S&TA to do at least 30-40 more jumps on this canopy before I downsize, which was surprising to me.  I planned to do at least 75-100 more before considering downsizing, dependent on dialing in my accuracy.  Right now, my accuracy suffers mostly due to my being uncomfortable with high traffic and not wanting to get in anybody's way.  I don't see it as much as an imperative that I land within 10M of my target as getting out of the way of more experienced jumpers, so I tend to abandon my target if there's any chance I might disrupt someone else's flight/landing.

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Many DZs offer Hop & Pop jumps for swoopers. 
That puts them in the pattern all by themselves (or at least with only a couple others and decent separation).

I agree that a flat turn at 50' in a busy pattern is a good way to get your ass chewed (as it should), but do you have the ability to get alone (er) in the pattern for stuff like that? 

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51 minutes ago, wolfriverjoe said:

Many DZs offer Hop & Pop jumps for swoopers. 
That puts them in the pattern all by themselves (or at least with only a couple others and decent separation).

I agree that a flat turn at 50' in a busy pattern is a good way to get your ass chewed (as it should), but do you have the ability to get alone (er) in the pattern for stuff like that? 

Yeah, and for the accuracy jumps I need for my B, I probably will resort to doing hop n pops just to avoid that traffic.  As for the flat turn, I'm gonna consult my S&TA about that maneuver...

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4 hours ago, yobnoc said:

I'm looking at the 90 degree flat turn at 50 feet.  I'm pretty sure if I tried that at my home DZ I'd get the shit kicked out of me by the other jumpers behind me in traffic, and either temporarily or permanently banned.

Something like that you would plan for. Let the other jumpers on the load know what you are practicing, and figure out a place you can land where you can have some space from everyone else in the pattern. Either land away from everyone else like at the student area or alternate area if they exist, or pull extra high so you land well after the rest of the load, or do a hop-n-pop with your own pass.

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Extra insurance is great, but pain still hurts.

See if you can jump a 189 reserve as a main, or at least a 7 cell 190 main.  Do it on a day with a bit of wind. If it's scary, if your landing sucks, if you can't run it out, do yourself and your kids a favor... upsize that reserve. Yup, it'll be pricey to get new canopy and container, but if you can afford extra insurance you can probably afford the insurance that having a reserve you are confident you can land provides.

If you jump it and feel like it's going to be fine, great! Then you won't have to think about it should you ever need to use it.

I say all this because I carried a reserve for a few years that was too small for my ability. When I had a very hard opening that broke two D lines, I chose to land it because I was worried about landing my reserve, especially since it would have been my first cutaway. The mind does strange things in high stress situations.  i should have chopped. Later inspection showed that one of my steering line attachments was ripping out and there was a huge rip at the main p/c attachment point. It could have been really ugly, but I got lucky; I walked away with only a few scrapes and bruises. In the future, I'll be cutting away from anything I am not 100% confident that I can land safely.  Having an appropriately sized reserve makes that decision easier for me.

Again, just some things to think about. :)

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(edited)

Just out of interest: If you are not planning to become a swooper (maybe you are?), why is there a need to downsize at all?
It seems there is always the assumption that one has to downsize as a matter of fact, and other than at the very beginning, when trying to get off huge student canopies below about 1.1 WL, I don't quite understand why that seems to be the basic assumption.
In your specific case: You say you can't do front riser turns beyond 270. But are you trying to do 270s on landing? Since you don't seem that crazy, I assume not. So: Why is it necessary to do front riser turns beyond 270 up high? Just for fun? (I rarely have time for that by the time my canopy is fully open and I have to get back to the landing area)
This is not a criticism...I'm just interested, because the arguments always seem to be about HOW FAST (or slowly) to downsize, but there seems to never be any question about downsizing to be absolutely necessary in the long run, and since I fly a 7-cell 230 (weighing about the same as you--but jumping at 5500 ft' MSL) and don't find myself to want to downsize at all (maybe I would, if I thought I ever could rock a tiny HP canopy, but I know I won't get there and made peace with that--knowing I get enough excitement out of freefall)--sure: I'd love a smaller container, but it's not really such a big deal.

So, what am I missing? Why is there an assumption that downsizing is required (no matter how quickly?) Why do you need to do front riser turns over 270 degrees?
(or is it really the peer-pressure of the un-coolness of having a large rig? I guess that's the advantage of being old: I'm so far away from being cool, that no one bothers me about it...and I don't really care to impress members of the sex I'm attracted to with stuff like that--as the ones that get impressed by that stuff aren't really interesting to me anyway!...or so I tell my wife xD )

Edited by mbohu

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4 hours ago, mbohu said:

Just out of interest: If you are not planning to become a swooper (maybe you are?), why is there a need to downsize at all?
It seems there is always the assumption that one has to downsize as a matter of fact, and other than at the very beginning, when trying to get off huge student canopies below about 1.1 WL, I don't quite understand why that seems to be the basic assumption.
In your specific case: You say you can't do front riser turns beyond 270. But are you trying to do 270s on landing? Since you don't seem that crazy, I assume not. So: Why is it necessary to do front riser turns beyond 270 up high? Just for fun? (I rarely have time for that by the time my canopy is fully open and I have to get back to the landing area)
This is not a criticism...I'm just interested, because the arguments always seem to be about HOW FAST (or slowly) to downsize, but there seems to never be any question about downsizing to be absolutely necessary in the long run, and since I fly a 7-cell 230 (weighing about the same as you--but jumping at 5500 ft' MSL) and don't find myself to want to downsize at all (maybe I would, if I thought I ever could rock a tiny HP canopy, but I know I won't get there and made peace with that--knowing I get enough excitement out of freefall)--sure: I'd love a smaller container, but it's not really such a big deal.

So, what am I missing? Why is there an assumption that downsizing is required (no matter how quickly?) Why do you need to do front riser turns over 270 degrees?
(or is it really the peer-pressure of the un-coolness of having a large rig? I guess that's the advantage of being old: I'm so far away from being cool, that no one bothers me about it...and I don't really care to impress members of the sex I'm attracted to with stuff like that--as the ones that get impressed by that stuff aren't really interesting to me anyway!...or so I tell my wife xD )

Yeah, it's really more about fun for me, and conquering new challenges.  Who knows where I'll end up in this sport; I'd like to think eventually I'll be a TI someday.  Some things don't make sense to me about human nature either.  Why do people climb rock faces with no tie offs?  I can't think of a good reason why, other than that there's something inside them that's fulfilled by it.  I like to challenge myself and my limits.

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I think others have covered most of it here, but I just want to echo.. not being able to do a 270 on fronts is probably the worst imaginable reason to downsize, and to give you some idea, I probably can't do more than a 270 on any of my canopies (Mostly in the 60's and 70's sq ft). There's not really any reason to, even in the context of competitive swooping, and if that's a goal for you I don't think downsizing will get you any closer to it.

Get someone who knows you and has seen you fly to help you make a decision.

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2 hours ago, richoH said:

I think others have covered most of it here, but I just want to echo.. not being able to do a 270 on fronts is probably the worst imaginable reason to downsize, and to give you some idea, I probably can't do more than a 270 on any of my canopies (Mostly in the 60's and 70's sq ft). There's not really any reason to, even in the context of competitive swooping, and if that's a goal for you I don't think downsizing will get you any closer to it.

Get someone who knows you and has seen you fly to help you make a decision.

I do consult with the elders of the sport often at my DZ.  I've observed it's a good way to get on everyone's shit list if you try new things or basically make any decision without running it by every Tom, Dick, and Jane with any experience.  I caught a lot of shit for buying my first rig brand new, but ultimately decided that the people who were giving me the hardest time had no idea how hard it was to find a full rig in my price range that fit me, because I'm a large-sized human.  Plus, I didn't really think it was appropriate to tell someone else how to spend their own money.  Ultimately, I got a rig that is custom fit for me and comfortable, and I got it for an incredibly low price (lower than anything I could find in the classifieds or on facebook). 

When it comes to anything that might affect my safety, someone else's safety, or the reputation of the dropzone, however, I always consult with the experts.

 

Again, thank you to all for the valuable input. 

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On 6/19/2019 at 2:36 PM, yobnoc said:

I do consult with the elders of the sport often at my DZ.  I've observed it's a good way to get on everyone's shit list if you try new things or basically make any decision without running it by every Tom, Dick, and Jane with any experience.  I caught a lot of shit for buying my first rig brand new, but ultimately decided that the people who were giving me the hardest time had no idea how hard it was to find a full rig in my price range that fit me, because I'm a large-sized human.  Plus, I didn't really think it was appropriate to tell someone else how to spend their own money.  Ultimately, I got a rig that is custom fit for me and comfortable, and I got it for an incredibly low price (lower than anything I could find in the classifieds or on facebook). 

When it comes to anything that might affect my safety, someone else's safety, or the reputation of the dropzone, however, I always consult with the experts.

 

Again, thank you to all for the valuable input. 

That's a healthy attitude for sure.

What I read from your post is that you're trying to ask how to do the thing you've decided on is the solution, rather than trying to ask people how to solve your underlying problem. This is something I see really commonly in my line of work, and it's why it trips off my spidy sense.

You're asking what you have to do in order to do big turns on your front risers, and I'm asking why you want to do that (I don't really care if you tell me, I just think you should make sure that you have a convincing explanation for yourself). If your goal is to swoop, you should just be thinking about how to get more power and consistency out of your turn, regardless of the rotation. If you're right at the edge of the pressure you can keep the risers down under, you're going to have massive consistency issues.

This is why I'm telling you to get advice from people who've actually seen you fly. Good luck man, I hope you get it figured out.

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1 hour ago, richoH said:

That's a healthy attitude for sure.

What I read from your post is that you're trying to ask how to do the thing you've decided on is the solution, rather than trying to ask people how to solve your underlying problem. This is something I see really commonly in my line of work, and it's why it trips off my spidy sense.

You're asking what you have to do in order to do big turns on your front risers, and I'm asking why you want to do that (I don't really care if you tell me, I just think you should make sure that you have a convincing explanation for yourself). If your goal is to swoop, you should just be thinking about how to get more power and consistency out of your turn, regardless of the rotation. If you're right at the edge of the pressure you can keep the risers down under, you're going to have massive consistency issues.

This is why I'm telling you to get advice from people who've actually seen you fly. Good luck man, I hope you get it figured out.

Thanks man, I appreciate your input as well.  I just did Canopy 101 and 102 this past weekend with Maxine Tate, and it was a huge eye opener of skills I need to work on under my wing, but also helped me identify my strengths and the things I'm doing much better than the average bear at my experience level.  My accuracy improved drastically under her guidance, and my flare and landing is "textbook" as she told me several times throughout the course, though the courses certainly helped me identify some finer points of how I can have even better, softer, and more consistent landings.  I'm not averse to the idea of swooping someday, but it's not really on my radar at this point of a goal I'm working toward.  What I want is to be able to control my canopy at an expert level and maximize fun without sacrificing safety.

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(edited)

Lot’s of contradictions in your posts.

First, your reserve is NOT 189 or 190, Decelerators come 180 or 210, so with a 180 your reserve wing loading is about 1.4.

Second, you say you have a small reserve because that’s the biggest that would fit your rig, then say you bought new gear, so you CHOSE to get something that small.

You consult with the elder because “ you don’t want to get on a shit list”, then complain that you got some grief when you bought your new gear. Maybe their disapproval was based on your gear choice (small reserve) rather than the fact that it was new.

You talk about your textbook flares, yet admit you sometimes “trip over your own feet”, your accuracy is bad, and you haven’t done a some very basic canopy drills.

You have one year in the sport, only did 60 jumps over that year, but now want to step outside the generally accepted guidelines.

Your ultimate reason for downsizing, easier front riser turns, makes no sense.

You come on a public forum looking for strangers to recommend what the locals apparently won’t.

I think it was Mark Twain that said “It is often better to remain silent when accused of stupidity than to speak and remove all doubt.” 

Ultimately, you are a grown up skydiver with an A license. You can do what ever you choose. 

Edited by ufk22
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I have less time in the sport than you so I'm not sure how valid this is but I'd caution against setting hard deadlines for yourself (i.e. I should be flying a XX square foot canopy by the time I'm at XX jumps, etc). Downsizing isn't a race -- as the saying goes, "it's the journey, not the destination." And that journey will be a lot more fun if you don't hurt yourself. I'm not by any means saying you're going to (so please don't read it like that).

Everyone's learning curve is different in this sport. I have no idea where I'll be 100 jumps from now, much less 500. Don't focus so much on the long game that you miss opportunities along the way. Fly the crap out of your current canopy until you're bored with it, and then talk to people about downsizing.

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6 hours ago, ufk22 said:

Lot’s of contradictions in your posts.

First, your reserve is NOT 189 or 190, Decelerators come 180 or 210, so with a 180 your reserve wing loading is about 1.4.

Second, you say you have a small reserve because that’s the biggest that would fit your rig, then say you bought new gear, so you CHOSE to get something that small.

You consult with the elder because “ you don’t want to get on a shit list”, then complain that you got some grief when you bought your new gear. Maybe their disapproval was based on your gear choice (small reserve) rather than the fact that it was new.

You talk about your textbook flares, yet admit you sometimes “trip over your own feet”, your accuracy is bad, and you haven’t done a some very basic canopy drills.

You have one year in the sport, only did 60 jumps over that year, but now want to step outside the generally accepted guidelines.

Your ultimate reason for downsizing, easier front riser turns, makes no sense.

You come on a public forum looking for strangers to recommend what the locals apparently won’t.

I think it was Mark Twain that said “It is often better to remain silent when accused of stupidity than to speak and remove all doubt.” 

Ultimately, you are a grown up skydiver with an A license. You can do what ever you choose. 

You seem nice

 

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(edited)
6 hours ago, ufk22 said:

Lot’s of contradictions in your posts.

First, your reserve is NOT 189 or 190, Decelerators come 180 or 210, so with a 180 your reserve wing loading is about 1.4.

Second, you say you have a small reserve because that’s the biggest that would fit your rig, then say you bought new gear, so you CHOSE to get something that small.

You consult with the elder because “ you don’t want to get on a shit list”, then complain that you got some grief when you bought your new gear. Maybe their disapproval was based on your gear choice (small reserve) rather than the fact that it was new.

You talk about your textbook flares, yet admit you sometimes “trip over your own feet”, your accuracy is bad, and you haven’t done a some very basic canopy drills.

You have one year in the sport, only did 60 jumps over that year, but now want to step outside the generally accepted guidelines.

Your ultimate reason for downsizing, easier front riser turns, makes no sense.

You come on a public forum looking for strangers to recommend what the locals apparently won’t.

I think it was Mark Twain that said “It is often better to remain silent when accused of stupidity than to speak and remove all doubt.” 

Ultimately, you are a grown up skydiver with an A license. You can do what ever you choose. 

I'm not looking for approval, champ. 

 

The "locals" are encouraging me to downsize quicker than I had intended. 

 

My accuracy isn't bad.  It's just not where I want it, which is dead-nuts because I'm a perfectionist.

 

The discussion about buying used vs new gear had nothing to do with what kind of gear I purchased; and I've gotten some sideways glances about the reserve size once it comes up in conversation. 

 

What kind of miserable life do you have that you go full keyboard warrior with someone you don't know?  Do you think that the meaner you sound, the more likely I am to hear you?  Take a look at your comment vs the comments of others on this thread and ask yourself what's so wrong with your life that you're trying to belittle a grown man who you've never met? 

 

Grow up.

Edited by yobnoc
grammatical error

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(edited)
14 hours ago, yobnoc said:

I'm not looking for approval, champ. 

 

The "locals" are encouraging me to downsize quicker than I had intended. 

 

My accuracy isn't bad.  It's just not where I want it, which is dead-nuts because I'm a perfectionist.

 

The discussion about buying used vs new gear had nothing to do with what kind of gear I purchased; and I've gotten some sideways glances about the reserve size once it comes up in conversation. 

 

What kind of miserable life do you have that you go full keyboard warrior with someone you don't know?  Do you think that the meaner you sound, the more likely I am to hear you?  Take a look at your comment vs the comments of others on this thread and ask yourself what's so wrong with your life that you're trying to belittle a grown man who you've never met? 

 

Grow up.

I think you are severely overreacting. You should somehow find it within yourself to acquire a much thicker skin. Everything that was said to you in the above quote was absolutely appropriate. Maybe the mark twain quote was unnecessary, but that is all. I am certain that 100% of experienced jumpers I know would agree.

You expected to get shit, you admitted it in your first post. When you got wise advice, you lashed out in a way that should get a warning from the moderators. You might as well have warned us to be extra gentle with you. Too bad, this isn’t tiddlywinks,so man up and own it. 

Please consider that we’ve seen bad things happen. Being blunt is a good thing.

Edited by sundevil777

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