You are a ninja when it comes to understanding the four core exit principles – but how can you practice a skill that only comes up once a skydive? The mock-up!
Like creeping, but for exits
The purpose of a mockup is to simulate the exit. Hopefully, you have access to a sturdy mock-up that accurately represents the frame of the door and surfaces which you can grab. Working the details out on the ground is essential for mastering a variety of exits.
Agreeing on placement
Before climbing into the mock-up to see an exit stop and agree where it will be placed. The easiest way to do this is to “put in hands”; or have each team member put there hand in the angle and position they hope to be after exit. This can help the team visualize what the ideal exit will look like.
Use the Mock-up, sans gear first
If an exit is yet to be mastered, it is a good idea to head to the mock-up and see it without gear first. This allows teammates to move around and get set without having to worry about scraping pins or lugging around 23 pounds of lead for fifteen minutes.
After you are geared up, redo the mock-up with the gear and note any needed changes. The extra bulk certainly makes things tighter and you want to avoid potential hazards like scraping the back of the door.
For new exits, a full climbout is advised. This means all four people are inside the plane and the team simulates how they are going to get into position. This is the time to worry about who is going first (don’t forget the camera person climbs out too) and how and when grips will be taken.
Foot and Hand Placement
One of the most important details in a mockup is the placement of your hands and feet in relation to the door. This is particularly important for the outside people since they generally set up first. Check where hands are on the bar and where feet are compared to the leading or trailing edge of the door.
It’s windy out there
Remember that the wind will push you backwards when you are outside of the plane! When climbing out know that you will have to exert some force to keep yourself planted in an exact spot. The tendency is for exits to creep backwards and this can be dangerous and dreadfully painful for the inside skydivers. Keep the exit forward by leaning into the wind and using both your legs and your arms to stay positioned. Be strong!
After everyone has climbed out agreeably, it is time to practice the count and leaving together. This should be done precisely and accurately as possible since it is a critical feature of the exit. If it is not right, do it again until it is.
After you exit together, make a habit of moving to the second point of the skydive. This is a mental trick that helps jumpers keep focused on the whole skydive instead of just fixating on the exit. Avoid that horrible feeling of having the best exit of your life followed by the longest brainlock of your life.
The most common pattern for mock-up use is to exit once and move to the first point. Stop, climb back into the mock-up. Exit again, move to the second point, step away from the mock-up (so others can use it and you don’t keep running into it in the walkthrough), then proceed to walkthrough the entire skydive. Of course if the mocked-up exit doesn’t feel right to a teammate, they have a duty to stop the process and repeat the exit until the problem is corrected.
Figuring out an Exit From Scratch
Say you have no coach and want to exit a WizzyWummyWhim formation. You’ve tried to find a formation that looks like it from the parts of the divepool you know how to exit but nothing seems quite right. A clever and simple way to get an idea of what might work is to simply build the formation just outside the mockup. As a team holding onto grips slowly walk back into the mock-up. If it looks exitable, you are done. If not, exit the mock-up, rotate the formation slightly, and try again until you get something that works. If all else fails; fire and forget something close.
Follow this process and you will have an excellently prepared exit, the start of an excellently prepared skydive!
If you want more great articles, events, and tips make sure you have signed up for the Fury Coaching newsletter below!
How to exit a bow