Training Load Out

Making the most of a firearms training course isn't rocket science. Just make sure to bring the required equipment. If possible, add a few extras to maximize comfort and avoid circumstances that could prevent the successful completion of the course.

I’ve got another training course I will be attending here pretty soon. As I find myself getting ready, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to share what I plan to take with me to a training course. Coincidentally about this time a year ago, I published a short post outlining how I get ready for a trip to the range. That’s relevant because what I do to get ready for the range is similar to what I do to get ready for a training course.

The big difference for between getting ready to go to range to practice and attending a course is that there is very little to do in terms of goal setting and planning as the curriculum has already been decided. However, I do take a moment to review the curriculum and make a list of things I would like to take away from the course and questions I would like answered.

Guns and Gear

Next, is getting the guns ready. Selection is easy as it should be the guns required for the course. Yes, there is a possibility that more than one gun is required. For example, the last course I attended required a duty sized semi-automatic pistol and an AR-15. Personally, I also like to take back up guns when possible just in case the gun I am training with has a failure that requires more than a tap and rack to correct.

Along with the guns comes the required gear. The required gear list is usually spelled out for the course and includes things like holsters, magazines, mag pouches, slings, and what not. Again when possible, I like to bring back up equipment.

I suggest preforming regular maintenance on the guns and gear prior to attending the class. Starting out with a clean and lubricated gun reduces the chance of firearm failures in the course.

I inspect all of the required guns and gear prior to attending the course as well. This includes making sure all screws are torqued correctly and that nothing is on the verge of failure. The tools and lubricants used for maintenance and inspection then go into the range bag in case any field maintenance is required and back up equipment is not available.


Most training courses will give you an approximate round count. The accuracy of that round count can vary. I’ve attended courses where the actual round count was half of the course called for. I’ve also attended classes where the round count was exceeded by margin of 10%. So as a rule of thumb I like to bring an additional 25% of the approximated round count. For example, the next course I will be attending is approximating a round count of 500 so I will be taking 625 rounds to course.

One additional tip: Preload your magazines. All of them. It’s easier (and faster) to download the magazines at the start of the course if needed, than it is to load them. This minimizes the hold up before the first live fire drill of the training course.

Also, bring a mag loader and save your thumbs.

Range Bag Contents

At this point, the range bag should at least have the field tools and lubricants in it. Firearms and ammunition may go in the bag or may end up in one or more gun cases and ammo cans. Gear should be in the bag and ready to go as well.

In addition to those things, I make sure I have:

  • Hearing protection,
  • eye protection,
  • first aid kit,
  • kinesiology tape (blisters and hot spots happen, don’t let them stop your from completing the course and use that info to make adjustments to the carry gun and holster at a later date),
  • spare batteries for all the equipment that uses batteries (like hearing protection, red dots, illuminated scopes, flash light, etc.),
  • sun screen,
  • and bug spray.

Like the guns and gear, back up hearing protection and eye protection make it into the bag. Just in case.

Other Tidbits

The courses I have attended so far are either a half day (4 hour) or full day (8 hour) format. None of which include food or beverages. All of which don’t allow enough time to get off the property to pick up lunch (mostly due to being remote enough to require significant enough driving time to a restaurant or fast food joint that makes it impractical). As such, make it a point to load up a cooler with water (or other non-alcoholic beverages) and food. Then throw some extra food and water in the cooler just in case. Wouldn’t hurt to throw a couple of energy bars in the range bag either. Sports beverages (heavy on electrolytes) are also your friend. Remember, dehydration and low blood sugar are not your friends.

Don’t forget some cleaning wipes to get the powder residue and lead off your hands before you eat or to clean up after the course is completed. Some training facilities or trainers may provide these. Others won’t.

I also like to include a camping chair and pop-up canopy to for shade when the training will take place outdoors. All of the training courses I’ve attended so far has taken place outdoors. Some of the training facilities provide shade and seating. Some don’t.

Don’t forget to wear weather appropriate clothing and a hat.

Last, but not least, pen and paper is a really good idea. Or something to quickly jot down notes with. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to forget about that new drill I’m likely to be exposed to.

All of this “extra stuff” may seem overkill to some. However, some of training courses can get pricy especially when travel and lodging is required. Regardless of the cost, I want to make the most of my training investment and would rather be over prepared than not prepared enough. I find that being prepared (or over prepared) is preferable to not being able to complete the course.

On the flip side, not having all of the extra equipment shouldn’t keep one from attending a training course. At a minimum, bring the required equipment. Chances are the required equipment will be sufficient.


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