May 16, 2011
West of Boston
Feedback: 1 / 0 / 0

There are a lot of new shooters wanting to go to classes. I thought I would share some suggestions, tips, and what I bring to a class.
The first thing is an open mind. Does not matter if this is your first or one-hundredth class. Walk in with an open mind and don’t internally fight the instructor's concepts. I have been to many classes where I disagree with what or how the instructor has taught a skill or concept, but you are there to learn what he/she has to offer.

It’s okay to be nervous and anxious, try to relax, and have a good time. Everyone has been nervous showing up to a class where they don’t know anyone or has not been to a class before. Heck, I still get anxious showing up to a new instructor that I have not trained with. Just know a few things that are constant in all the classes I have taken:

  • Everyone is really nice to you.
  • If you are just starting out the other students will be impressed that you have shown up to the training class and are willing to learn.
  • The only pressure will be the internal pressure that you place on yourself.
  • Try not to think you are competing with the other students. You are only competing with your own skills before this class.
  • We all sucked in the beginning, we have all been there.
  • Don’t let yourself get negative if you are not doing as well as you think you should be. It’s very easy to tumble down a negative path if your having a bad day. Make yourself stay positive.
  • Positive feedback and reinsurance from the other students will be there. Just push forward through the anxiety.
  • Do you know who sucks? Your friends that are not attending the class!
Follow the classes gear list, plus. If the gear list says 5 mags, bring 8, if they recommend knee pads bring knee pads. If the list says 500 rounds of ammo, bring 750-1,000. I try to bring triple the amount of ammo. Bring 1.5-2x the amount to the range and leave an additional load out of ammo with a different lot number (different brand or manufacturing date) in your car. I have seen bad ammo wreck the training day. If someone else’s ammo is bad you have the option of hooking them up. They will be extremely grateful and will pay you that day.

Do whatever the instructor asks you to do it, even if you disagree with it. After the class is over you can choose not to use that technique, but for the class do it their way.

If the instructor does not do a safety and medical briefing before the class, be weary! This might be as simple as he/she just forgot…. If they don’t do a medical or safety briefing either raise your hand and ask or get up and leave! Not worth getting shot or dying. I have never been in a class where there was no safety/medical briefing given. I have been in very detailed briefings and extremely short and vague briefing but all the classes have had some medical and safety briefings before the live-fire of the class begins.

Bring the gear that you use on a daily basis. Train with your everyday carry (edc). There is no point if you carry a Smith & Wesson Shield or a Sig P365 daily that you show up to class with a full-size race gun all tricked out. If you carry a tricked-out race gun daily then bring it. You are doing yourself a real disservice if you take classes with a gun you don’t carry. Full-sized guns are easier to shoot well but harder and more uncomfortable to carry. When I started out in 1990 I carried a JFrame, switched in 2004 to a Kahr PM9, in 2010 (still currently) I changed my edc a full-size M&P. Why? Because I shoot a full-size gun SO much more accurately. If I ever need the gun… I want the bullets to go where I need them to go. I would suggest if you carry inside the waistband (IWB) on the streets that’s how you should show up to class. Get the reps in under the observation of a competent instructor exactly the way you walk around in the world.

Plan to show up an hour early. Unexpected shit happens on the way to the range, you don’t want to be the guy that shows up late! When you are super early ask the instructor if he/she needs help setting up the targets or help to bring their gear out.

Note-taking: I have found that a small notebook or index cards are the best way to take notes on the range. I use a reporter’s notebook (Amazon.com) and stick it in a cargo or back pocket.

When you get to the range. LEAVE YOUR GUNS WHERE THEY ARE AT. DON’T TAKE THEM OUT OF YOUR BAGS OR HOLSTERS UNTIL THE INSTRUCTOR TELLS YOU TO! VERY IMPORTANT! You do not want to get yelled at before the class starts. Every instructor has his/her own way of dealing with hot/cold guns at the beginning of the class.

If you normally carry an extra mag in your pants pocket, that’s how you should train. It's okay to wear extra mag pouches on your belt, but always grab your reload from the pocket you normally carry it in. Once the pocket is empty replace the mag from your belt mag pouch.

Show up to class with good quality gear. No nylon or uncle Mike's holsters. They are unsafe and most instructors will not allow them in their class. Full kydex holsters are the standard. Good strong gun belt to hold the weight of the gun and loaded mags. Comfortable footwear, you will be on your feet all day, sneakers, hiking boots. No sandals or flip-flops no matter how hot the range will be! Wear clothes that are not fragile and you won’t mind if they get messed up. Not saying they will, but depending on the class, weather, and just plain old Mr. Murphy sometimes your clothes get beat-up. For instance, my M&P has an extremely aggressive grip, with all the reps of drawing from concealment T-shirts get holes in them. I lost my balance once moving to cover and fell on the ground and ripped my pants. It happens.

Plan for bad weather if you are outside. That saying, “…it ain't training if it ain't raining..” is stupid! If it’s raining you’re wet and miserable. Plan appropriately. If you don’t mind being wet, well then you have it easy. I hate it! I always have rain gear with me, heck I bring extra raincoats. I loan them out to other students that did not bring them. I have been in classes that it has rained so hard you could not see the target 10 yards away. Raincoats are a must, rain paints suck. I have tried so many of them over the years, most of them don’t have belt loops, or pockets. (Oakley Men's Solitude & 5.11 Duty Rain Pants have belt loops and pockets) the best options I have come across are waterproof motorcycle or messenger biking pants. I found a pair of waterproof motorcycle jeans that are not perfect but they are the best option I have found.

I take a waterproof duffle bag with extra clothes to the range (Amazon.com) I keep my rain gear, extra socks, underwear, t-shirt, base layers top & bottom, hoodie, sweatpants, towel, extra gun belt, and face cloths all in the dry bag. I had them in a normal bag and they all got soaked one day while a rainstorm passed over. Lesson learned.

Take some contractor 55-gallon trash bags and toss them in the bag as well. They can save the day, you can cover your car seats if you are wet and muddy, they can clean the range, you can put your range bag in them, etc…

If it is going to be cold, bring extra layers, hand warmers, a thermos of hot chocolate or hot coffee, gloves. If you are going to shoot with gloves on get thin gloves one size smaller than you normally wear. You may want to cut the trigger finger and or thumb off. I don’t like to shoot pistols with gloves on. Rifles and shotguns, not an issue, put pistol I don’t like gloves. But sometimes it has to happen because the outside is too cold. Glove liners are an option too.

Footwear: if it’s nice weather or an inside class I wear comfortable sneakers. If rain is a possibility I wear waterproof trail runners or hiking boots. In the cold weather, I’ll wear insulated waterproof hiking boots. I normally bring my everyday sneakers to change into at the car for my drive home.

Sunblock, baseball caps, eye protection, ear protection, bug spray, neck sun gaiters, are all essential items. Wrap-around eye protection is a must. There are many types of eyepro get one that is made for shooting. Get both clear and shaded. If you wear prescription glasses there are a few options. The easiest is getting side plastic side shields for your glasses/sunglasses: (Amazon.com). You can get eyepro that goes over your glasses (Amazon.com) or you can have shooting glasses made with your RX which is the best: (safetygearpro.com)

Ear protection is a must. I would suggest electronic ear protection so you can clearly hear the instructor. Walker makes some very good affordable electronic earpro. The best, but expensive ones are Sordin Supreme (Amazon.com : Sordin) bring extra batteries and a cheap backup pair just in case. Murphy always shows up in class.

Due to the length of this post, I am unable to upload the entire text, list, and links due to forum restrictions on length. Read Part 2:

Download a full copy from google docs:

Download this full post in a PDF from Google Drive:

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/13DnF-eGTTRCJk7KNnzP-B0z4kRadewwJ/view?usp=sharing
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I don;t think I can do that? At least I don't know how to....
You'd ask a mod to do it for you. Maybe @drgrant will help you out? ETA - looks like someone beat me to that part...

A question - why didn't you make the other half just a second post to this thread?

Regardless, great write up, thanks for contributing!
Remember, there is usually more than one way to accomplish a task. For example, you may be right-handed and wear a holster on your right hip or left help. You can shoot right-handed or left-handed. But if you are right-handed and the the instructor wants you to practice with your left hand some; don't get mad. If you are in a shootout and a bullet goes through your right hand, you just may have to shoot left-handed in order to stay alive. If you have never practiced this particular way of accomplishing a task(shooting) you may die quickly.
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