There’s an adage in technical diving, “Never use a new piece of dive gear on a complex dive.” You should always practice with new equipment on a simple dive, preferably in a controlled environment like a pool or quarry.
This seems like a good time to bring this up since it’s early in the season and a lot of divers are heading to local quarries to shake off the winter doldrums. Spring is the time to get ready for wreck diving season on the lakes. I spend a lot of time at the quarry this time of year diving with students. For students, many of the gizmos we’re diving with are new to them. There is a definite learning curve for the new tech diver. It’s understandable that a student would have trouble deploying an SMB from depth. They’ve probably never done it before and need help to learn good technique. Then they need lots of practice to build competency.
It’s not as obvious that an experienced diver may also need some practice. Besides students, I also dive with certified divers who are getting ready for the charter season. It’s not unusual for divers to make equipment changes over the winter. Maybe to replace a piece of worn dive gear, or to change methdology, like changing from using a reel to a spool. It may seem a minor change, but when you try to use equipment you’re not used to at depth, in cold water, wearing gloves, it becomes a big deal indeed. Take an experienced diver used to completing a task in a certain manner, change the procedure, and watch them struggle.
So, if you’ve made changes to your configuration, replaced old equipment, or added something new, be sure to get out and practice with it on some easy dives in the quarry before jumping in on a deep, complex dive.