With any handgun training course, pre-planning and preparing are the keys to success.
As gun owners, one of our key responsibilities with owning that firearm is to be educated about them and to learn to use them properly. Taking a training course from a reputable instructor or school is the first step in gaining that knowledge.
For many, the training they received when they took the course for their concealed carry permits is where their firearm schooling ends. Just like in any field of study, continuing education is important. Our shooting skills are perishable and if we don’t practice or train with them, we lose them.
Training courses are not cheap. Since you are going to be plunking down a lot of money on a course, being prepared and ready to go not only helps you to get your money’s worth from the instructor, but can make the class more enjoyable. So to help you be prepared and ready to go when class starts, here are some tips that not only help you have a great time, but will help your instructor out too.
1. Choose the appropriate caliber for both the class and you
This is important not only for the safety of everyone on the firing line, but also for your comfort and learning.
Blasting away with a S&W 500 on the range is a whole heck of a lot of fun, but being beat up with it all day, every day for three days is not. At the same time, bringing a .22 LR pistol will not beat you up, but are you really learning what it will be like to simulate a real-world scenario?
A fine balance of what you prefer and what works needs to be found. I would recommend 9mm or .45 ACP depending on what feels better to you and what you would be using on a regular basis.
2. Have a working knowledge of the gun you are using
Take some time prior to the class and learn how to use the gun you are bringing. If you are borrowing a gun, get it a few weeks before and put some rounds through it. Preferably, bring your carry gun.
Showing up the first day of class and pulling a brand new revolver out of the box and having no idea how to use it will detract from your learning experience. Know the quirks of the gun. Does it like certain ammo? Will it jam after so many rounds? Things like this help to keep both the class and your gun running smoothly.
3. Bring extra parts
Guns are machines and like any machine, they have parts that wear out over time. Components break when least expected. If you can, bring spares.
Recoil springs, detent springs, trigger springs are some things you need to bring along. Some classes have high round counts. Guns under stress will fail. If you have spare parts, you can fix the problem and keep going.
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4. Bring a backup gun and gear
Again, guns break. Gear breaks. If you don’t feel confident in your gunsmithing skills, bring a backup gun. That way, if your primary gun goes down for any reason, you can switch to your backup.
Same thing with gear. Holsters break, magazines foul up, etc. Bringing spare holsters and magazines helps with a quick switch out and off you go.
5. Read the lists
In addition to your usual shooting gear/safety gear, most instructors include a list of required gear or other things that need to be brought. Don’t skip over this. If they say bring knee pads, bring kneepads. If they say bring a ball cap, bring a ball cap. There are good reasons why they ask for these things to be brought in the syllabus. These are things that they have found over the years they need you to have for comfort, safety and teaching aids. This is an important list to go over.
I know a lot of these sound like common sense, but these are some of the easy things people overlook. These are things that I have run into with both long time shooters and brand new shooters in classes I have been a part of.
Taking some time to prepare yourself will enhance your experience tenfold.