Whether new to training or a veteran to the discipline, there are a few simple things to do in order to improve your overall experience. They are three areas you need to focus on when preparing for class. Notice how I said focus, there are other areas you should put some attention to, but these are the big ones. The first is to review the course information, paying particular attention to the required gear list. Then, go over your logistics. The when and where are what I’m talking about. Last preparation for the class is to double check your gear and plan for some contingencies.
Know the Course Material
Every school is a little different, but they will all usually have some type of course description. Some students will use this solely as their criterion for decision. Others will have “shopped around” through internet searches or word of mouth. I encourage you to know what you need, not what you want. For instance, if you need a better understanding on the drawstroke. Find an instructor who is known for doing an excellent job on the subject. You may find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what you need, you don’t know what you don’t know and that is perfectly acceptable. Have a broader goal in mind, to expand your knowledge base for example.
Review the Gear List
Read through the course description, all of the available material. If there is something you don’t understand, then do a little research. If there are terminal objectives or goals of the class, do they meet your needs. A good course will be well thought out and have an agenda or curriculum. The curriculum will guide the student towards the terminal objective through enabling objectives. All the information is important, but probably the most important is the required gear list and in this case the importance of your concealment carrying system. A lot of times, students will think of this as a suggestion. It is not, it is a list of required gear to ensure you have the best chance of doing well in the class. Don’t convince yourself you do or don’t need something. Read the list, even print the list out and check each item to make sure you are good to go. Think of this as an IQ test, can you follow simple instructions. Then at class, it is nice to be prepared and of course to not be “that guy.”
Do a Map Study and Plan Your Route
Logistics are a big thing to me. The old saying, “amateurs argue tactics and professionals argue logistics” is incredibly accurate. Start by knowing where you are going and how you will get there. Give yourself a little fudge factor on day one just to cover your basis. Don’t just know where you are going, but know the surrounding area. For instance, are there eateries near by or are you going to be packing a lunch or snacks. Something else to consider is how long is the commute. After a long day of training I suggest you consider the drive home. Be extra alert when going home since the fatigue of the day can affect your situational awareness as you drive home.
Get Your Eyes On Everything
The final preparation for your class will be to review your gear, like literally lay it all out and get your eyes on them. It is one thing to go over the required gear list and say to yourself I have that in my range bag. Only to realize you took it out to clean, replace or repair and failed to return it to your range bag. Some items are less important, a flashlight is not essential to a day light course. But a magazine pouch can make or break your experience in the class. Go over each item and ask yourself is this ‘thing” good to go. Has it been cleaned, or maintenance recently. Are there fresh batteries in use or am I running on empty. The devil is in the details so really go through the list.
Have a Plan and a Backup Plan
Think about the essential items. Your handgun for instance. Even though I have done a good job of picking a reliable model along with routine maintenance, things do break. Having a backup on standby has come to the rescue on more than one occasion. Spare magazines are another example. If you have the minimum as prescribed in the gear list that is great, but what if one of them goes down or you leave it in the hotel. There’s a myriad of reasons, so planning is key. Contingencies can go beyond your gear to your plan. Any physical activity will take its toll on your energy level. If you are planning to get lunch nearby, but all the local places are packed and you have to make a decision between being late or skipping lunch you might consider packing a lunch or some snacks.
Holsters, Be Prepared
When it comes to our Concealed Carry classes there are three main failures from the gear list. The first is not having an “on the waistband” or OWB holster. You may try to justify you don’t need it because you have an IWB holster. That would be a mistake. The purpose behind the OWB holster is to start from a known and safe condition. Before we dive into the deep end of drawing and holstering from concealed, we have to ensure you have well developed and safe drawstroke from the lowest risk condition possible. That would be open carry, on the waistband.
Bring All The Required Clothing
The second mistake would be in failing to have all of the required clothing. In this class, you will be forced to work from a variety of cover garments. Not your favorite or go to, but a wide array to ensure you are prepared. It never fails, there is always that one person who thinks they know better. Trust me, you don’t. Bring all the clothing listed. Even if you don’t have something on the gear list for whatever reason you can probably borrow it from a family member or friend. Most of the items are pretty normal, but if you don’t have a rain jacket and you don’t want to buy one, they ask around to get a loaner.
Have an Open Mind
Last mistake we see often is when students fail to have an open mind. It doesn’t matter what you think or know, be open to new ideas. If you say to yourself while reading the gear list I don’t need this or that you would be demonstrating someone who has a closed mind. Don’t be that guy. Instead it should pique your curiosity. You should be wondering what are we going to be doing with that and why. Curiosity is your super power as a student. It is the single greatest characteristic that leads to expanded knowledge base. Back it up by understanding the why you are doing something a certain way or why you don’t do things a certain way.
If you take the time to review the course material paying attention to the required gear list, you have the best chance of succeeding in class. Or at least you won’t be held up because you don’t have this or forgot to bring that. Knowing the logistics will help you ensure you are not late or miss any course material. Some instructors will not allow you to participate if you miss the main emergency and medical plan brief so don’t be surprised if you have to sit down initially why the rest of the class trains. Double check and even triple check your gear. Have a system so you make sure you have all the gear you need and it is centrally located so when you load out early in the morning probably in the dark you don’t leave that one bag on the work bench. These are not just suggestions, they are observations over decades of training to help ensure you as the student have the best chance of success in our training classes.