If you have just purchased your first gun you are probably extremely excited to learn more about it and shoot it! This is great, and one of the best ways to do this is by enrolling in a gun safety training course. These classes teach you how to safely handle guns, proper holstering techniques, how to clean and store them, and how to shoot.
There are even advanced courses that are more involved where you can learn important defensive skills. If you decide to take a safety course, you will need to round up some gear first!
Firearm safety courses have minimum equipment requirements. Although these will vary slightly, most courses require you to bring your own firearm or a rental, a holster if a pistol course, additional magazines, ammunition, electronic ear protection, and eye protection.
Attending a pistol training course can be a bit nerve-racking, which can make it easy to forget your essentials. If you are getting ready for your training course here is a short list of gear you will likely need.
- Minimum of 250 to 500 rounds of ammo (class dependent)
- 3 magazines
- Ear protection
- Eye protection
- First aid kit
You should always refer to your course-specific directions, but the above list should cover your bases. Not technically a tool, but you should also remember to bring snacks, a drink, and depending on course length even a lunch.
The gun you bring to your gun safety course is ideally your own. Some courses prefer you to already know how to use your gun before attending while others are designed for the beginner that has never shot a gun before. Make sure you know which one you are signing up for.
When selecting a gun to bring to your course make sure it is comfortable and easy for you to carry. You should also ensure that it is not too big of a caliber. Common calibers that are easy for most people to shoot are 9mm for pistols and .223 for rifles.
Your gun should also be reliable. For some courses that are more involved and based around live firing, it is not a bad idea to bring a backup weapon just in case your primary weapon fails.
If you have not purchased a gun yet that is ok! There are courses available where you can rent a gun to use for the day. This is a good option for someone who is just getting their feet wet.
Here is one quick tip, if you are participating in a rifle/AR course you will certainly want a sling. Unless you plan on shooting from a bench all day, you will be holding your rifle for a while. Make sure you have a comfortable sling, and if you do not already have one, you can pick up a padded rifle sling from us right at this link.
Ammo and Magazines
The ammo you need will depend on the caliber of the gun you are shooting. If you are renting a gun, you will most likely be required to use ammunition purchased at the range. If you are bringing your own gun make sure you purchase the right caliber of ammunition. The gun caliber will be stamped into the gun’s barrel or on the slide. For most courses that involve live firing, the minimum ammunition requirement is 50 rounds, but they could require as much as 500 rounds.
The last thing you need to fire your gun is magazines. Guns usually come with 1-3 magazines in the initial purchase. If yours came with less than three then I highly recommend purchasing more. Like the gun, magazines can malfunction and you want to make sure you have backups.
It is also a good idea to bring a dump pouch with you or attached to your belt. A dump pouch is effectively a large pocket/pouch in that you can put your empty magazines in. You can drop your magazines during a drill, but that is not ideal for the magazine. You can make them last much longer if you take care of them. Get your own dump pouch at this link right on our website.
It is also really nice to be able to load your ammunition into the magazine beforehand, that way you do not have to spend precious time with the instructors reloading when you could be shooting and learning new skills. Just make sure you bring your weapon into the course unloaded, and load it when your instructor tells you.
If you are attending a pistol course you will need a holster. Your holster should be comfortable, easy to wear, and most importantly, should fit your specific weapon. Your course may also require you not to use a holster that has a built-in locking device, so know the rules before you go.
A good holster for a beginner has great retention but no unnecessary snaps, or locking devices that could make you accidentally place your finger on the trigger when drawing. When you go to pick out a holster, a Kydex holster is usually best for the range. They are secure and easy to wear on a belt.
If you have been around hunters or people into shooting sports long enough, you will likely hear them talking about hearing loss. It is extremely common for people that shoot guns to lose some of their hearing over time. Trust us, we know.
This is something that you should avoid and it is easy to do, especially at the range. Before shooting your gun you should invest in high-quality ear protection. Although electronic ear protection is superior to standard ear plugs, ear plugs will work just fine if you can not afford them better. Your instructor will likely have a few extra pairs of ear muffs, but do not count on them.
Before shooting it is also very important to properly protect your eyes. Flying casings from other shooters, powder blowback, ricochets, rock chips, and cleaning solvents can harm your eyes.
Good eye protection is a must! Luckily, there are plenty of good affordable options. You can hop online and get a $5 pair of glasses that may save your eyes. That will be the best $5 you ever spent.
First Aid Kit
The first aid kit is often an overlooked piece of gear but it can be extremely important and literally life-saving. Your instructors will have at least one first aid kit, but this piece of gear is so important to have that it is a good idea to start carrying one every time you shoot.
Your first aid kit needs to contain supplies to keep someone alive until help can arrive. To do this your kit should contain a tourniquet, gauze, and pressure bandages. Make sure to purchase a tourniquet that you can apply to yourself as well.
You should also think about your safety when treating someone. Add nitrile gloves and a mask to your kit.
After shooting hundreds of rounds of ammo through any gun, it would benefit from a cleaning. This is the case for a shotgun, handgun, or rifle. So having a simple cleaning kit in your range bag is a good idea.
If you do not want to totally break down your firearm and thoroughly clean it, running a cleaning patch down the barrel and adding a bit of gun oil is easy enough to do and can be done quickly after you are done shooting for the day.
Other Helpful Gear Items
There are also some other items that can be useful depending on the type of training you are doing.
- A dedicated range bag is extremely nice so that everything you need to take to the range is organized and ready to go when you are.
- A notepad is extremely useful for jotting down ideas or tips from your instructors, but you could also use a note app in your phone.
- Shot timers are helpful if you are trying to increase your drawing and firing speed, but this should only be practiced by advanced shooters that are fully comfortable with their firearms.
- If you are going to be shooting longer ranges, a spotting scope can cut down on walking back and forth to your target.
- Paper targets, well for the obvious. Most courses will provide them but it is nice to have spares.
How to Find a Gun Safety Training Course
Taking on the responsibility of gun ownership can be a bit nerve-racking to some, but it does not need to be. There are thousands of firearms courses throughout the country that can teach you how to safely use and carry a firearm. In general, courses can be found by making a simple google search with the words “ firearm safety course in your state”.
Owning a firearm is your right, but it is also a responsibility that you must take seriously. Gun safety training is the best way to learn how to safely and effectively use a firearm.
Many people even continue to take firearm courses throughout their lives to learn new skills and the laws surrounding gun ownership and self-defense. I highly recommend you do too. Good luck training and stay safe out there!