Shooting the pier: exciting and dangerous | Photo: US Open of Surfing/Michael Lallande

Shooting the pier. It's one of the ultimate surfing experiences. The exciting stunt can turn into tragedy, but we're leaving clues on how to navigate through the pilings at 30 miles per hour.

First of all, a disclaimer: This is dangerous stuff, boys and girls. It cannot be stressed enough how much practice and experience a surfer needs to have before attempting it. Riders have been injured, and even killed trying. Don't be that guy.

For shooting the pier, you must know your skill level. Are your maneuvers tight and controlled? Do you have big wave or barrel experience? Can you bail out at the last minute safely and effectively?

If you've decided to shoot the pier, find the right beach. You want clean, peeling waves which break evenly beneath the promenade of the pier - not against the front end.

Onshore, get a good look. Are most of them holding their form right through to the other side? This is important. Waves that get diced up in the legs will only leave you tossed around under there. To that end, choose a pier - like Huntington - with enough room to have options on your line.

Now, work up to it. If all of the above are up to scratch, paddle out and catch a few waves. Surf as close to the pier as possible, doubling back or bailing when you're still at a safe distance.

This is a good way to get an idea of what kinds of lines you'll need to find as you pass through. Do this a good few times so that you can be confident of the different kinds of choices you might have to make when you go for it. Remember that every wave is different.

Again, if you miscalculate the surf line, kick out smoothly as soon as possible. Wearing a helmet, and having friends out in the water are wise recommendations, especially if something goes wrong.

When you're ready, there's nothing left but to go for it. Find your line and navigate purposefully, avoiding any unnecessary moves, tricks and maneuvers. Stay focused on the wave and where it's likely to be moving.

Whether it's a straight line or a weave, commit to the ride, stay in control, and shoot that pier. See you on the other side.