How does one know their experience level

I have no idea if I’m a beginner or intermediate. Is there a skill set somewhere that can assess where I’m at?

BCU, ACA, etc…

– Last Updated: Apr-04-05 11:07 AM EST –

There was a thread recently discussing this. A search of the archive should find it. You will find both significant agreement and disagrement regarding how to assess level. Experience and skill levels are often different. I am glad that pnet asks for experience level.

Both the British Canoe Union (BCU) and the American Canoe Association (ACA) have requirements for certification at certain skill levels. The BCU assessment includes experience. I do not know if the ACA does.

Atlantic Kayak Tours ( has pretty detailed information on levels, as does Maine Island Kayak Company(

Compared to what

– Last Updated: Apr-04-05 12:28 PM EST –

do you do white water. lakes or sea .

Is a guy who has been paddling large lakes for 20 years and never leaves the shore by more than 1/2 mile but can put in 30 mile days one after another a beginner? What if he cannot do a sweep turn and is rudder dependent. What is his only rescue is a paddle float rescue and he needs a sling to do that.

What about a gal who has beeen kayaking the ocean for two years but has a 50% roll, knows one end of a chart from another but has never navigated in fog?

Even though a paddler has good technical skills after three years of paddling (surf skills, considerable big water experience, fancy technical moves, navigation skills, 99% roll etc, he is not the same paddler as a person who has faced the same big conditions 100 times more often. the more experienced paddler may not even have as many technical skills but their big conditions experience will help them be more calm when things are gnarly.

Jed started a good thread entitled beginner vs intermediate? or something like that. Look up intermediate by searching the last months topics in the advice section.

Or if you are lazy just click here:

How Do You Measurer Yourself…
…against other golfers if you don’t keep score?

A : By shoe size

Chevy Chase “Caddyshack”

I’m dumb
Found the archives. Thanks.

Experience And "Rating…"
can be related and different. You do know your experience, i.e. what you have paddled, in what conditions and what you were able to do (comfortably and effectively). How this “rates” in terms of skill levels as defined by external body, i.e. ACA or BCU, is another thing. You can go to their websites to find out what they expect in terms of level of competency with skill sets and each level.


No not really
it’s a controversial subject. some know lots of rolls and have considerable big water experience but rate themselves as beginners. some accomplished paddlers with little dynamic water experience might well be rating themselves as intermediate becasue of long distances which their hard won efficeint technique can cover. some wonder why one would rate themselves or another paddler at all.

by the time you say
"I’m an intermediate paddler",you’ll get into more challenging conditions and revise your self-assesment downwards to advanced beginner. Or the first time you meet someone who’s REALLY GOOD,you’ll move the assesment to specific skills and not general categories of identity.

I like it!!!
Great writing!

A big fish…
… in a small pond may be just a small fish in a big pond.

Comparing Against Others…

– Last Updated: Apr-04-05 1:07 PM EST –

may be helpful to some. But, I think it may set up the wrong emphasis. Better to assess what you can do in the waters and conditions that you paddle on and to think about what can be improved upon. This is one way to think about improvement as opposed to being side tracked by who's got the "bigger paddle."

For example, I think Karen Knight is absolutely wonderful in what she can do with a paddle and canoe. I can watch her all day do her thing. But, what does this have to do with me surfing better or running a river better if these are the venues that interest me and that I need to work on?

Even in the venues that I am interested in, I don't find it particularly helpful to say that Vince Shay is a better surfer than me but I am better that Joe Smo that I saw on the break last week. They are fundamentally irrelevant to me in so much as the issue is what I am doing now and what I can I do to improve on that.


Yesterday I paddled in a large group
and when the designated trip was over, several of us opted to play in the clapotis next to a sea wall and practice our skills.

One person said they were not going to join us because he/she only practices rolls in a swimming pool.

I guess that means next time they capsize in a pool, they should be fine. What happens in textured water on the ocean??? Nobody knows.

Another way?
The P-net rankings seem to be far too general. Why not say something like “on a scale of 1 (rank beginner) to 10 (knows it all) I consider myself to be a…”

Rest Of The Profile
To me an intermediate is someone comfortable in his own environment.

If someone checked intermediate and only checks lakes and slow moving rivers, I get a different impression than if he checked whitewater and surfing.

I thought
Chevy said,

“by height”.

whudda you know,

– Last Updated: Apr-04-05 5:02 PM EST –

you're just a beginner.


Yup… Felt Like That Yesterday! Doh!

but then I would be tempted to put 11!
not 'cause of my ability but because Spinal Tap said so.

I guess it could be confusing
I tend to think that it’s one of those things where the more you learn, the more you realize that you didn’t know as much as you thought you did to begin with.(?)

Think I’ll
change my profile to " None Beginer" or " A few miles into the kayaking ocean" and leave it at that!! :slight_smile:

Good Journey’s