With the calm waters of the James River as a backdrop, these students are learning lessons they hope to never need.
"That's what the ACA is all about, teaching people to have fun on the river, but being safe at the same time," explains Beth Wiegandt.
The ACA or American Canoe Association is all about safety.
These would-be instructors are doing rescue drills on land before taking them to the water.
But, with rainy weather in the forecast, those seemingly calm waters can be misleading, even dangerous.
Explains Wiegandt, "Especially when its been raining and the river's up a little bit and looks more exciting, but then people can get in over their heads without really realizing it."
That was the case in March.
Four people put their canoes in in Buchanan and quickly ran into trouble.
"That water was raging, it was up, trees undercurrent, the underbrush, everything that was a pretty tough little rescue," remembers Chief Billy Joe Carter from the Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department.
Chief Billy Joe Carter says that rescue had a happy ending.
Everyone survived, but that's not always the case, even the most experienced boaters can run into trouble.
Reminds Carter, "It's not what's on top of the water that you have to worry about, it's underneath."
Carter also reminds people to keep an eye on the weather, wear your lifejacket - and use a little common sense, if the boat ramp is flooded and you're instead getting onto the river from the parking lot - just call it a day.