This is the first of what will hopefully become an ongoing series about gear and tips for women who spearfish. By no means is this a complete guide for women who spear but what has worked for me over the years. Hopefully it will get you thinking, asking questions and finding the right gear you need to get the job done.
Spearfishing is certainly a sport in which woman can excel if given the confidence and the right gear to do so, unfortunately many are turned off the sport as it is dominated by men & men’s gear. The first cab off the rank is without a doubt the most important and frequent question I get asked…
How do you load a speargun?
When I started spearfishing I found this single-handedly the most difficult and frustrating part to learn and judging by the amount of people who ask me I assume it’s the same for most. I hear about ladies going to the gym, doing hundreds of push ups, lengthening rubbers to the point where they are almost ineffective and still can’t load the speargun. Why? Some say its genetics (shorter arms & less upper body strength) others say it’s poor technique, it really doesn’t matter, if you can’t load it then you are going to be frustrated as hell so you need to find something that works for you.
For the first few years of spearfishing I couldn’t load anything over 90cm, then when we stopped by the Riffe factory on our way to Central America I met Julie Riffe who is one hell of an authority on all things female spearing. It was that meeting that would change my diving career forever. She introduced me to 14mm rubbers, loading tabs and a new technique (hip loading)
Rubbers: As a rule of thumb I look at the recommended rubbers and use a smaller diameter with an extra rubber (if required.) So for example on a 130Euro that would usually use 2 x 16mm rubbers I use 3 x 14mm rubbers, this allows me to load the smaller rubbers but keep a similar amount (sometimes even more) power than what thicker bands provide. Obviously the biggest disadvantage is having to load an extra rubber but you get quick at loading. Sometimes this can be a bit of trial and error so get out your targets and find a pool, test it out and see how much your custom bands have changed your effective shooting range. Practice makes perfect. To get you started here are some band set-ups that Julie has recommended over the years and are a great starting point for customising your gear. 14mm Rubbers are your best friend and are well worth the time and money to get your gear perfected to make life easier.
|Stock Length||Qty of Rubbers||Diameter||Length|
|90||3||9/16 (14mm)||21.5" (55cm)|
|100||3||9/16 (14mm)||24" (61cm)|
|110||3||9/16 (14mm)||26.5" (67cm)|
|120||3||9/16 (14mm)||29.5" (75cm)|
|130||3||9/16 (14mm)||32" (81cm)|
|Island w/full wing kit||2|
|Bluewater Elite (Option 1)||2|
|Bluewater Elite (Option 2)||2|
Loading Tab: A game changer and an absolute necessity for me on all of my guns over 1.2m, rest tabs allow you to load the rubber half way to the tab while the gun is on your hip and then bring the gun up to your chest to complete the last few inches. My go to gun is the Riffe Euro 130 Enclosed Track + 7mm Straight Shaft w/rest tab + 3 x 14mm Rubbers as seen in this video. The enclosed track has allowed me to really beef up this gun with shorter 14mm rubbers and still hit dead centre every time with more power than ever.
When you combine the 14mm rubbers and a loading tab to your setup (both being an absolute necessity for me) you will be unstoppable. I know a few ladies also use a loading notch that is added on to the barrel of the gun and I would love to hear more about these set-ups. Please share any techniques, tips, tricks and gear in the comments below. Please feel free to ask any questions below or email me on the ‘contact us‘ page and I will try to address what I can in the next blog. As for now Dive Safe and stay tuned for the next instalment.