If you’ve seen some base jumping footage and started wondering how to get started, you may find it’s a long and expensive journey. Base jumping is one of the most dangerous sports you can try, and you shouldn’t be put off by the amount of training and time you will need to invest. When done properly and safely, it promises to be life-changing.

If you’ve never even skydived before, there’s a lot to do before you can start your first day of training. Before you begin the journey to becoming a base jumper, you should plot your route and the landmarks you need to reach. Only then can you properly commit to this incredible experience.

Let’s look a the five significant steps from your first day of skydiving to base jumping like a professional.

Five Steps to becoming a base jumper

It’s easiest if we break down how to get started base jumping into five steps.

  1. Become an expert skydiver
  2. Get started with a base jumping course
  3. Get started base jumping (within your limits)
  4. Don’t stop learning
  5. Stay safe if you want to stay a base jumper

Become an expert skydiver

Become an expert skydiver

Before you consider taking your first base jump, you need to become a highly competent skydiver. Skydiving is a safe and thrilling way to learn the fundamentals and gain confidence. By taking a beginner’s skydiving course, you’ll quickly learn freefall control and master canopy flying; both skills crucial to base jumping. 

There have been cases where people have base jumped without skydiving first, but this isn’t advisable. We recommend completing over 200 skydives before you get started base jumping. Most base jumping courses will require you to have at least a skydiving B license. In skydiving, you can afford to make some mistakes and have time to correct them; it gives you such valuable experience. With base jumping, you often have to react to problems and surprises in a split second.

Doing a beginners course in solo skydiving, you will get fully prepared with usually 6-8 hours of classroom work. You’ll also get your first 20-25 skydives, and after passing the exams, achieve your A license. By this point, you’ll be safe and competent enough to go out and dive alone. You’ll also know how to pack your parachute and will be a recognized skydiver by the United States Parachute Association

Once you have achieved your skydiving A license, you shouldn’t go base jumping just yet. You still have a lot to learn, which will come by continuing to skydive as regularly as you can. Once you reach 50 skydives, you can then apply for your B license. You will have to do another brief course and exam, but you will learn valuable new skills and maneuvers, including water landings. With a B license, you are also allowed to skydive much higher (up to altitudes of 30,000 feet) and can deploy your parachute lower (2,500 feet).

Get started with a base jumping course

Get started with a base jumping course

Once you have completed 200 or more skydives, you should be ready for a base jumping course. As with skydiving, when learning base jumping for the first time, you need to start with the fundamentals. Don’t skip taking a detailed course before you get started with a first base jump.  

Learning base jumping is best done through mentorship. A good beginner’s base jumping course will teach you all the safety protocols and build strong community relationships. With base jumping being such a dangerous sport, it’s essential to make bonds and have people around you that you can trust and know what they are doing, especially when you first start.

A good base jump course will teach you techniques to handle all the different types of base objects you will be able to jump from and how to react (fast!) in different situations. You’ll learn critical risk assessment skills and how to use, pack, and check all the new gear. 

Get started base jumping (within your limits)

Get started base jumping (within your limits)

Once you have your course completed, you’re ready to get started base jumping. At this stage, you should be competent but not ready to base jump alone. Hopefully, you have made many new base jumping friends during your course and have found a great mentor to take you under their wing.  

Don’t underestimate the importance of having that ongoing relationship with a safe and experienced mentor. Their experience of safe jumping and reading the minor signs will be how you build up your own experience and ability; you can’t afford to learn from your own mistakes as you can in safer sports.

Start with easy base jumps. Keep every jump within your capability and very slowly build up to more challenging ones. Avoid any challenging clearances or places with worrying safety records. Try to stick to tried and trusted base jumps and always listen to your mentor’s advice.

Don’t stop learning

Don’t stop learning

A good base jumper learns something every time they go base jumping. Make sure to watch other, more experienced base jumpers closely, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how silly you think they are.

It would help if you also were building up all your own equipment by now and learning more about it as you go. There are other bits of equipment you’ll want to start adding to your kits as you continue to hone your base jumping skills.

Laser range finder: This tool helps you study a sport and find safe new base jumping spots. A laser range finder enables you to measure the exact height of an object by either standing at the top or bottom and aiming the laser to the other end.

Cellphone or radio: You must always have a means of communication. With base jumping being such a dangerous sport, you should never jump without a means of calling for help if the worst happens. If you are heading somewhere with poor or no cellphone coverage, make sure you have a satellite phone or radio.

Medical kit: This should be one of the first pieces of gear you buy, and don’t underestimate the importance of painkillers. Being able to react quickly to an injury while you wait for more professional help can save a life. We also recommend you do additional safety and medical training. 

Stay safe if you want to stay a base jumper

Stay safe

By this stage, you will be base jumping regularly and loving it. But no matter how experienced or skilled you are, always keep a realistic idea of what can and can’t be done. Always take safety seriously, and don’t do anything against your instinct to stay safe.

One of the biggest causes of severe injury and death in base jumping is taking on a base jump which was too difficult due to proximity to objects or weather. If you have any doubts about the object or wind, do not jump. Where possible, stick to only designated base jump objects which have a good safety record. 

Remember, every base jump will be different from the previous one. Never get overconfident or feel too familiar and safe, even if it is an object you’ve jumped off 50 times before. You always need to be focused and prepared. That includes making sure your thoughts are always clear, and you are not distracted by anything else.

The best base jumpers are not the ones who take the most risks but the ones who do the most jumps. And longevity in the sport can only be achieved by always taking safety extremely seriously and understanding each jump’s risks and consequences.