Preparation is the Key to Success
Practical shooting classes should be at the forefront of any AR platform owner’s minds. We spend a lot of money on these guns, why not spend some of it on classes that teach us how to properly and safely use them? The first step to scratching that training itch is finding a reputable class with knowledge and able instructors, the next step (and maybe the hardest one) is signing up. Now here is a crucial part to all of this..you have to come prepared for the course.
The hardest thing to watch when attending or teaching a sold out practical shooting course are students not coming prepared because they can miss out on valuable class time and breakthroughs due to struggling with their gear. Yes, classes are there to test your equipment and see other students and what they’re running. However, there are a few things that can be prepared before the class to really make the most of your money and experience during the course.
For the sake of this article and basing off of usual Carbine/Rifle Courses, we will talk about five items and the amount of these items that should be brought, specifically for your AR, to a one-day Defensive Carbine Course, or rather any one-day practical AR platform firearms handling class.
Mind you though, if the class that you signed up for does not give you a list of items needed prior to the class start date, you may have signed up for a bad class with a bad training company..and trust me, they are out there.
1. A Two Point Sling
A sling is an essential piece of equipment when it comes to any carbine class. It is a NEED, not a want to have. This is both for allowing the gun to lay on your body throughout the course after the drills are complete and also, to help you through the drills. Slings have come a long way and there are many options out there for quick adjustable slings for AR’s such as the Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling, the Magpul MS1 sling, or the Viking Tactics Sling. Each of these slings have a cord that you can pull to tighten and loosen. Tighten these up while shooting and it will greatly help with recoil management. These slings are also two-point slings meaning that there are two attachment points on the gun. Single point slings are not helpful nor safe, especially for inexperienced shooters.
Don’t forget, the sling needs to attach to your gun. Whether that is with a picatinny rail mount and run-through sling, a M-LOK QD socket, or even a QD socket on your buttstock, it must be compatible with the sling attachments and the attachments on the gun.
2. Multiple Trusted Magazines and Easy Ammo Bag
Key word here being multiple..There will often be drills that will have the need for three 30 round magazines whether that is due to reloads, or malfunction manipulations, it is good to have three magazines on you at all times so that you don’t go empty in the middle of a drill downrange. Having more loaded back at your car to grab and go during the course is great too and is a huge time saver during the quick 3 minute breaks during class. Also a timesaver, having your ammo be loose in a canvas bag or something of the sort. Many students will often bring 20 round cardboard boxes of ammo to a class. This slows them down tremendously due to having to sort through cardboard and plastic to get to the ammo, plus now having to jam it into mags. It is much easier to empty all of your ammo boxes at home prior to class and throw them into a cheap canvas bag or even a DAKA waterproof zip up bag. Bring enough ammo as well, I’d shoot for at least 300 rounds for a one day carbine course.
3. Good Lube!
Don’t be the student to have consistent malfunctions due to a dry gun on a hot summer day. The night prior you should be stripping your carbine and putting a light coat of lube on all of the friction areas including the carrier, trigger, disconnect, and rails of the upper receiver. Many will have their preference of lube however the popular and trusted products are BreakFree CLP and SLIP 2000 gun oil. Mid day, do the same thing. Lube your gun.
4. Tight Gloves
Gloves Gloves Gloves. These guns get hot, and so does ammo. During these courses there will be times that the guns get very hot. Even if you don’t want to wear gloves the entire day, having them on a D clip on your belt is good to have. Many like to just throw one glove on their non-firing hand to hold onto the hot rail. If doing a malfunction drill such as clearing a stove pipe, throw on both gloves as brass gets hot.
The gloves should be tight to your hand as well. You don’t want to have a bad trigger press due to fat fingers or even get the tip of a gloved finger stuck inside your chamber. Many go to gloves for shooting are the PIG gloves from SKD or Suppressor Sensor gloves from Outdoor Research.
5. Basic Tools
Bring tools..don’t be a tool and rely on your instructor. Basic tools such as your sight adjustment tool, pliers just in case brass gets stuck, even brass punches and a hammer. These tools may seem advanced however, almost every class I personally have had to use a punch and a hammer for a student’s gun. Things such as primers being popped and seizing up the bolt inside the chamber, or magazines splitting in half in the lower receiver of the gun and becoming stuck, things just happen during high round count days. If you use these tools correctly and safely, or have an instructor that can, it will save your day of training. The worst thing would be having your gun seized due to bad ammo in the very beginning of the day and being down a gun for the rest of it. Let’s be real too, how many students have you seen bring brand new ammo, or even a brand new gun, to a class. Things can and will happen that are unexpected. Be prepared.
Be the student that impresses with coming prepared and being ready for each drill that the instructor throws at you. Yes, classes are a time to learn and find what gear works, however a little preparation will go a long way with you, your classmates, and making your money’s worth from the class. These classes aren’t cheap, nor is ammo, don’t waste it.