Next time you go to a skydiving competition, watch the audience. Spectators fall in two major categories: those that want to fall from the sky, and those who believe the sky is falling. If you believe the sky is falling, go, run away from this article! But if your breath catches with anticipation when the plane door opens, dive in now. It’s time to get serious about your skydiving.
Anyone who has been to a few skydiving competitions will know that military personnel love to compete. You may not know there are contests made specifically for active duty Armed Forces personnel. They are a place where military personnel around the world can unite over a common interest. There is no fighting, no thought of war, and no military strategy. All that remains is good sportsmanship. These competitions are a thing of beauty.
The International Military Sports Council (CISM) is at the heart of this good sportsmanship. CISM has members from 134 different countries and represents a growing number of sports. This article will focus specifically on skydiving in military competition.
The skills executed during these competitions are not for the faint of heart. As an example, let’s look at the 2017 edition of CISM’s Parachuting Regulations. It sounds boring, but if you want to join any parachuting competition, civilian or military, rules and regulations are paramount. We won’t go over every little thing right now, just a few basics to get you started.
What are the Jumps Like?
Competitors can enter to jump individually or in a team. They must demonstrate skills during free fall, under canopy, or upon landing. During the competition, a jump starts when the parachutist leaves the aircraft. Unless otherwise stated, the jump altitude will start at 1,000 meters (about 3,280.84 feet) above ground level. There are separate awards for individual accuracy, team accuracy, style and formation. There are also awards for overall performance.
How is accuracy scored?
To measure for accuracy, a giant target is painted on the ground. Literally. The competitor attempts to land as close to the center of the target as possible. The distance is measured in centimeters (cm). After two rounds, the total number of cm from center is added together. If the competitor is under the maximum cutoff, the competitor will progress to the next round. After the fourth round, another total is taken and more competitors are eliminated. After eight total rounds, the distance from center for all eight rounds is totaled. The competitor and/or team with the lowest total wins.
How is style scored?
Style competitions are comprised of five total rounds. During the first four rounds, the competitors must complete six skills that are predetermined by the judges. This list must be completed during free fall. Competitors may have to turn left or right by rotating 360-degrees as though they are spinning on a plate. They may also have to back loop by somersaulting backwards through the air and rotating 360-degrees. Competitors are scored based on the length of time it takes to complete all the moves as well as how close to 360-degrees they accomplish during each task. The competitor with the lowest total wins.
How is formation scored?
Formation competitions are comprised of eight total rounds. After the first round, the third round, and the fifth round, teams are eliminated if they do not meet the minimum scoring qualifications. During dives, the team must be joined together by a hand grip. This grip can be on either an arm or leg. Each team is comprised of four men or four women, unless otherwise specified, there are no co-ed teams. The teams must make the formations specified in predetermined diagrams. The team that correctly completes the formation as many times as possible, wins.
As you can see, skydiving competitions are much more than just jumping out of a plane and doing a couple flips. If you’re a spectator with a gleam in your eye, pay attention to the little things. Look at the angle of the competitor’s body. Try to stand in a circle and spin exactly 360-degrees. How precise were you? True talent is in the details.