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The small city of Moose Jaw has a few famous draws. The mineral spa, the tunnels supposedly used by Al Capone, and, believe it or not, a successful scuba diving shop and training centre which has now been open for 15 years despite being over 1,500 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean.

Curtis Temple, part-owner of Scuba Guys’ Dive Shop, said although it may seem odd to others, he never questioned opening in Moose Jaw, where he’s lived his whole life.

Temple first got started taking scuba diving classes from a man who was stationed at 15 Wing, the airbase south of the city.

For the next 10 years, Temple taught scuba diving independently. He held contracts to teach for the department of defense at the base as well as for the RCMP, which used to require pilots to have scuba training.

Eventually Temple realized there was a big enough market in the city to open his own shop.

“It got to be a lot bigger than we thought it would,” he said. “It grew pretty quickly.”

Temple’s business partner, Gregg Bathgate, is also an advanced instructor. There are two other instructors at the shop as well as three dive masters who are working their way to become instructors.

“There’s certainly enough people around to keep it going and keep the shop functional,” said Temple. “We probably need more instructor resources at the shop so we can have more flexibility.”

Many of their customers travel from out of the city to take classes including people from Regina, Estavan, Swift Current, and others.

Brian Lanktree, a customer lives 160 kilometers away in Weyburn, said after a bad experience buying equipment elsewhere he decided to go to Moose Jaw. There he received all his advanced training -- Rescue Diving, Equipment Maintenance, Dive Master, Ice Diving and Divers Alert Network O2 Provider.

“They’re great guys and the service is second to none,” he said. “They just make you feel warm and welcome.”

“It just turned out that once I got into it, got involved in Scuba Guys’ Dive Shop, it’s been just a great hobby.”

Besides training, the shop offers other services. They are the only shop authorized by all the factories to repair equipment, according to Temple.

They still do contract work: doing body recoveries for the RCMP, helping towing companies with waterlogged vehicles in the lake, and completing inspections on bridges and dams.

A Facebook group for the shop helps to keep the community organized for upcoming club trips. Last year, 16 people went to Waterton National Park for dives and their club recently returned from a two-week diving trip to Honduras.

Overall, Temple said the business has been a good decision.

“There’s days where I’m really happy about it,” said Temple. “I really enjoy seeing the success that it’s had, but at the same time, that success has come with a lot of work.”

“There was always making trade-offs for it but I think in the long run it’s paid off pretty well for everyone.”

Dive lessons are held at the Kinsmen Sportsplex pool in Moose Jaw. The most basic course, Open Water Scuba Diving, is a six-week course held on Saturdays. It consists of two and a half hours of theory followed by an hour and a half of pool time. Once that’s complete, a minimum of four lake dives must be accomplished over two days and participants must pass a written exam. This course means freedom to dive anywhere.

Advanced courses are also offered including Deep Diving, Confined Space Diving, Night Diving and Underwater Photography. They also certify instructors.

“There isn’t anyone else around here who has that instructor capability,” said Temple, who also writes national programs for scuba diving agencies.

Scuba Guys’ Dive Shop offers free tryouts to anyone interested in testing out the sport.

Temple said he encourages people to face any fears they may have and try diving.

“It’s an adventure that every time you do it it’s going to be different,” he said. “You can do the same dive over and over and over again but each time you get into the water there’s something different to it.”

“You can always pick something out from it.”

The feeling that diving offers is unmatched by any other hobby, according to Temple.

“It means I have freedom. It’s the only place that you can go where you’re truly on your own.”