I’ve taught canoeing for many years from youth camps, to Red Cross classes, and even college level courses. Yes, you can take a canoeing course in college!
While teaching at the University, I had a young woman in one of my classes that was blind but wanted to learn how to canoe. She was a delightful woman with a positive attitude and showed great confidence in approaching life’s adventures. For her, learning correct canoeing technique was essential.
When teaching, I always start with the basics including selecting a well fitted PFD and choosing the appropriate size paddle before we even approach the boat. Wrong size equipment is both ineffective and frustrating to use.
Next, a short demonstration on how to safely enter the boat and get stabilized and then on to stroke instruction. Basic strokes include Power stroke, J stroke, Sweeps, and techniques on moving sideways as well as starting and stopping. There are a lot of other techniques that build on the basics.
Back to my story of the visually impaired student. We did some practice on land where I could assist her in getting a feel for where the paddle should move for each stroke in relation to the canoe. Once positioned in the canoe, she quickly learned to control the boat as well as any student I have taught. She was as proficient in the stern as in the bow position.
If you have canoed before, you know that the “driver” sits in the stern position and calls the strokes when canoeing tandem. In this case the bowman simply called directions and she perfectly executed the strokes to maneuver the canoe through the English Gates we had set up for practice. She was amazing!
So yes, proper technique is important to learn while canoeing and you can do it with a bit of practice. It not only increases the fun and satisfaction, but also the safety factor.
Take a look at our instructional videos to shorten the learning curve and avoid the frustrations that come with learning a new skill.