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  1. (Coming from someone with very few skydives, but grew up at the DZ and have hours of tunnel time) Experience is important in any sport where your actions can directly impact the people around you. Jump numbers tend to be the default/fast gauge of experience for people who have never jumped with you(and not every newbie, or experienced jumper, for that matter, is the best at knowing their own skill level, so it's important to keep that in mind as well). As a contrast, When I [recently] graduated AFF, my coach had to tell jumpers who've known me since I was little to back off. I'm not ready to jump with certain people, regardless of my bodyflight experience. Altitude awareness, tracking, canopy piloting etc, are all still new enough to me that I'm not 100% consistent, and while I'm safe for myself and my coach, it's important that I have enough experience with these skills, and my numbers can reflect that. I think the big thing is to not let your numbers bother you, and don't take it personally if someone doesn't want to jump with you based on your jump numbers, they have their reasons(safety, personal preference, etc.) and they might not be the right person to jump with at this time. (And if someone really is being an ass about your numbers, do you even want to talk to them anyways? There's cooler people out there.) Personally, I think making friends and being present at your DZ is important too. As you spend more time at your DZ, you'll get absorbed into your local community and find the right people to jump/socialize with(who are familiar with how you skydive). There are plenty of experienced jumpers who love jumping with newer people for you to learn from and jump with.
  2. I would consider getting into indoor skydiving now, then looking into AFF when you turn 18. Not sure what your background with the sport is, but I grew up with parents who both skydive, and as a result, was able to participate in tunnel camps and gained flight skills from a young age without ever skydiving. I personally would not have even started AFF without this background(granted, I never planned on skydiving. indoor skydiving and the community really opened me up to the possibility). The more you learn before you start skydiving, the better. Plus, a lot of AFF instructors(in my area, at least) will often recommend tunnel time. Someone confident in their bodyflight/freefall abilities is often less overwhelmed by the whole process, and can safely focus on the newer things more easily(e.g. better altitude awareness because they're not concerned about body position or stability). You'll also likely get to be involved with the skydiving community if you participate in tunnel comps as well. We have a lot of crossover locally between our skydiving community and out tunnel fliers. So you'll get to know the community, fly with experienced jumpers, and prepare for your future skydives all before even starting!