- Full Cave Course



To teach the openwater diver the necessary skills to safely dive in the overhead (cave) environment.


May be taught in a week long program, (7-8 straight days); or in a modular program consisting of cavern, intro-to-cave, apprentice and full cave.


  1. Advanced open water or equivalent; or Intro-to-Cave or equivalent, or Apprentice or equivalent if entering from the modular program.
  2. 18 years of age.


  1. Review of medical aspects of diving.
  2. Review of dive tables & dive computers.
  3. The cave environment.
  4. Cave diving techniques (includes buoyancy control and body positioning).
  5. Communications.
  6. Accident Analysis and emergency procedures/ situation management.
  7. Recognition of potential stressful/ emergency situations.
  8. Psychological aspects of cave diving, to include: stress, attitude, awareness, reaction to and building tolerance to stress in self/ others, management, and philosophy.
  9. Cave conservation.
  10. Guide lines and guide line techniques.
  11. Dive planning and air/gas management.
  12. Cave orientation, referencing and navigation.
  13. Inert gas narcosis and Oxygen poisoning.
  14. Physiology, with emphasis on breathing techniques.
  15. Equipment and equipment configurations.
  16. Stage decompression theory and procedures.
  17. History and philosophy of NACD.


The following drills are to be conducted as part of the Cave Diver course:

  1. Proper use of guide lines and reels.
  2. Techniques in following guide lines.
  3. Touch contact procedures.
  4. Lost line/ diver drill.
  5. Use of line markers.
  1. Jumps
  2. Gaps.
  3. "T's.
  4. Use of line arrows in the above applications.


These drills are only required at the entry level to the full cave diver program. If these skills were not performed in the cavern diver or Introduction to cave diver courses then they must be completed prior to any dives in the cave environment. They are to include (but not be limited to):

  1. Use of guidelines.
  2. Following line with blacked out mask or loss of visibility.

Sharing air, first with vision and then with eyes closed

Touch contact, may be incorporated with air sharing.

Following line without mask.

  1. Use of reel.
  2. Satisfactorily demonstrate proficiency to the instructor of various techniques such as the modified flutter kick, modified frog kick, and modified dolphin while maintaining correct cave position and buoyancy control


Cave diver certification is based on satisfactory performance of ALL skills listed in these standards by ALL students regardless of prior training. Students without prior training are to complete the open water evaluation dive and a minimum of fifteen (15) cave dives for certification. A minimum of eight (8) must be completed in double tanks.

  1. Credit from previous courses.

•  If entry level to the cave diver course is cavern certification, three dives may be credited to the cave diver certification requirement of fifteen dives.

•  If entry level to the cave diver certified course is through the introduction to cave diver course, seven dives may be credited to the cave diver certification requirement of fifteen dives.

NOTE: Regardless of course progression, a minimum of EIGHT dives must be done in double tanks for cave diver certification.

  1. Students who have not completed all the performance requirements for this course within the minimum number of dives, may not be certified until the remaining skills are performed successfully during an additional dive or dives.
  2. Equipment matching and "S" drills are required during all training dives at all levels of training.
  3. Pre-dive briefing, bubble checks, good dive team skills, and post dive critique.
  4. A recommended three (3) minute safety stop on all dives.
  5. Number of dives required are a minimum, more dives may be performed at instructor discretion.


  1. Proper finning and propulsion skills.
  2. Proper body positioning and buoyancy control.
  3. Use of reel and guide line.
  4. Touch contact.
  5. Air sharing.
  6. Communications with light/ hand signals.
  7. Familiarization with the cave.
  8. Use of gap/ jump reels.
  9. Use of line arrows.
  10. Circuits and traverses, if not performed due to environmental constraints, must be simulated.
  11. Lost diver procedures.
  12. Dive planning.
  13. Stress detection and management.
  14. Conservation - behavior and techniques.
  15. Stage decompression procedures.
  16. Multiple jumps, requiring the use of several reels on the same dive.
  17. Simulated emergencies:

•  Share air while exiting cave on two occasions.

•  Lost visibility, touch contact, team line following.

•  Lost visibility, out of air, touch contact line following.

•  Diver lost from team/ diver lost from guideline.

•  Broken/ lost line.

•  Primary light failure, exit on smallest backup light.

•  Line entanglement.

•  Air/ gas valve management. Diver practices turning own valves on/ off, simulate various regulator/valve failures. (May be done in open water at start or end of dive)


  1. Depth - 130 feet
  2. 1/3 air rules

These represent maximum allowable air rules. It is up to the discretion of the instructor to determine if more conservative air rules are appropriate for a given set of circumstances.

  1. Minimum starting visibility - 20 feet
  2. Minor restrictions acceptable. (A minor restriction is when divers are prevented from traveling side by side, forces them into single file travel). No major restrictions.


  1. Double tanks are mandatory, minimum volume 142 cubic feet, manifolds are recommended.
  2. Mask, low volume type recommended.
  3. Power fins, with straps taped together, if applicable.
  4. Suitable tank harness.
  5. Two single hose regulators, one with seven foot hose, one with submersible pressure gauge attached. Some recognized method of securing the seven foot hose must be provided.
  6. Exposure suit, suitable for diving conditions.
  7. Buoyancy compensator with auto inflator. (C02 emergency inflation devices must be rendered inoperative) Back mount BC is highly recommended, but not required.
  8. Submersible dive tables or computer must be used.
  9. Slate and pencil.
  10. Knife, preferable small and sharp, or line cutter acceptable to instructor.
  11. Watch or bottom timer and depth gauge. A dive computer may be used in place of these.
  12. Three lights per diver.

• I. A primary light with an illumination and burn time sufficient for the dive being undertaken.

• II. Two backup lights. The backup lights should have a suitable burn time for the dive being planned.

  1. One primary guide reel per team and at least one safety reel per diver. Specific dive planning will dictate additional reels required for executing jumps and gaps.
  2. A minimum of three line arrows and one non-directional marker per diver.


  1. Perform all skills listed.
  2. Perform the minimum number of dives specified.
  3. Maintain an appropriate awareness of safety and safety procedures, as well as demonstrate appropriate respect for the cave environment. A reckless or cavalier attitude may constitute grounds for denying certification, regardless of technical ability.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of pertinent information by passing a written Full Cave examination with a minimum grade of 80%.
  5. Submit all appropriate records as required
  6. Payment of all appropriate fees.
  7. Recommendation for certification by the cave instructor.
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