Advice for gun school


April 2, 2005, 03:41 PM
I'm headed off to Front Sight in two weeks for a 4-day general rifle class, and I'm wondering if there's anything I should know or get or do in preparation. Anything you guys can tell me about gun school in general or Front Sight in particular?

I'll be taking 800 rounds of ammo (the course description says it requires 700), a backup rifle, sunscreen, gloves, knee and elbow pads (they are required for the class, apparently) and plenty of water. Anything else I'll need?

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April 2, 2005, 04:47 PM
Thousand rounds, couple of baseball caps, some of those heating packs to put on sore spots...

Have fun....

April 2, 2005, 05:19 PM
I've never been to a shooting school so my advice is worth about as much as you'd think, but from the reports I read, a lot of people were happy to have a camel back system. Also, a way to hold your mags will be important like a belt or leg pouch. Extra ammo, extra mags.

I'm sure someone with experience can chime in here.

April 2, 2005, 05:48 PM
Having been to TR my best advice is to leave any ego at home and mos importantly - listen! You can learn just as much from listening as you can from doing. Also, don't get down on yourself when you make a mistake. You'll remember that error and learn from it. It could be your errors that teach you the most. Of course...have fun! :)

April 2, 2005, 06:22 PM
Stretch. Start stretching now if you don't already. Get into the usual rifle positions and note what seems tight, and stretch that.

It takes longer to get out there from Las Vegas than they let on. If you're staying in LV, allow yourself a full hour to get out of town and get out there without being rushed.

April 3, 2005, 10:42 AM
The training you will receive there is First Rate. You will be definitely challenged, however, and you should expect that. I agree about the stretching and about the mags.

Also plan on taking your firearm cleaning stuff. You can always stay in Las Vegas, but since you're going to be Mission Oriented, why not just stay in Pahrump, which is much closer?

April 3, 2005, 10:48 AM
I think it's interesting that those who have 'been there, done that' mention almost nothing about actual shooting equipment. I guess your body and mind are always the primary weapons. ;)

April 3, 2005, 11:03 AM
Your gonna get a great class and a hard sell.

Do your self a favor and leave the check book an credit cards at home.
Bring just enough cash for food and lodgeing.

Iggy might need a new car and make everyone a great deal on a exclusive
membership....... :eek:

April 3, 2005, 12:14 PM
Ian, I am very jealous! Enjoy it! The only thing I can think to add is a camera for some memorable pics.

April 3, 2005, 12:53 PM
I second the recomendation of the camelback. Be on guard against dehydration. Drink constantly even if you don't think it is hot.
I would take some snacks to eat during the class.
Definitely use the sunscreen whether you think you need it or not.
Take something to flush your eyes out with (blowing sand).

If you don't keep yourself hydrated, keep your blood suger up, and your eyes clear: you won't shoot your best. And if you expect to get a distinguished graduate certificate you will need to be at the top of your game.

I have taken the Frontsight four day Practical Rifle class. Two comments on the class. Be prepared to do some very quick shooting. And be prepared to fall into positions very quickly so you can shoot quickly.

If you have time, give me a call and I will buy you dinner or a beer.

April 3, 2005, 01:00 PM
Did you notice people with 30 rnd mags having any trouble getting into prone positions? In quite some time I'd like to take a few rifle courses and was wondering if it would be better just to use 20 rnd mags. I mainly wonder about AK mags, but I imagine the probably would be about the same with an AR.

April 3, 2005, 02:27 PM
1) Some good, salty beef jerky.
2) Lifesavers, or some other sucking candy.
3) A wide brim hat.
4) Bullfrog 36 or Bullfrog 45. Both are sunscreens recommended by scuba divers. Total protection that you can't sweat/rinse off. Must be soaped off. Oh, completely sunscreen yourself before you get dressed. I've seen people get burned through thin clothing.
5) LULA (any fast Loading Un-Loading Accessory)
6) Sunglasses
7) A windproof umbrella or a white towel. Maybe. Instant shade might be desirable. Also, covering your evil black rifle with a white cloth will keep the sun from baking it super hot.
8) Small pair of binoculars.
9) A native bearer to carry everything around (just kidding!)

April 3, 2005, 05:24 PM
The 30 round magazine will not be a problem.
In any carbine class I ever took, everyone was using a 30 round magazine.

April 3, 2005, 07:12 PM
Thanks for all the tips, guys.

I will be taking a Camelbak; I forgot to mention that with the water. I have a 3-liter one with backpack straps.

The rifle I'm taking is a tanker M1 Garand, so mags aren't an issue. I have about 500 rounds in clips for it, and the rest of the ammo on 5-round strippers, to be transfered into the en bloc clips once I've emptied a bunch. I'll be taking an AK and a .308 scouted Mauser as backup rifles.

I won't have any problems resisting tempting sales pitches - I'm way too poor for it. On that note, I plan to just stay in the back of my truck. I've got a mattress back there, and I'm quite happy with the arrangement. I've got better uses for my money than hotels.

El Tejon
April 3, 2005, 07:39 PM
"And, one time, at gun camp . . . " :D

Pre-hydrate (start drinking water now), dry practice and stretch before you go. Don't eat anything bigger than your head while in school--eat light. I have like an apple and one of those protein drinks. Saw a guy at an advanced pistol class eat an entire Big Mac and fries the first day at lunch (August in Midwest where temp=humidity=99). He had no idea why he was sick the rest of class.

Bring backup rifle, sun block (I like the Bull Frog stuff, doesn't sweat off), and burn cream (empty brass down your back will give you a road map of your own :D). Maybe one of those lightweight rock climbing shirts with the mock turtleneck underneath a t-shirt?

Keep your gear tight. You see guys (especially day 3 or 4) will gear strewn over heck's half-acre. Keep your ammo separate from your other gear. A gas mask bag is good (well, it's what I use).

Ian, you bringing a shooting mat (not necessary but they are a comfort)? How about something to use as a rest, like a range bag?

April 3, 2005, 07:43 PM
I really want to hear how the M1 garand works out for you in class. You had better report back!!

The Undertoad
April 3, 2005, 08:03 PM
Ian - Have fun... I think you'll do just fine with that tanker of yours... :) Let us know how it goes.

April 3, 2005, 08:26 PM
Go as if you had never fired a shot.

By that I mean do not go with the attitude that you are even remotely good. You may have a bunch of bad habits that will need to be unlearned.

At my first class, I thought I was a pretty decent hand with a handgun. By the second day there were complete newbies that were progressing faster than I was. Instructor made a comment of how at this point in the class it was easy to tell "Who had never fired a shot, who had been through training before and who had spent a lot of time shooting cans off a log" :what:

:uhoh: How did he know that? :uhoh:


April 3, 2005, 08:32 PM
Label all your stuff. I mean, all your stuff, including ammo boxes. Funny how those all look alike. And toss a sharpie marker into your range bag so you can label all the stuff you forgot to label.

Put some Advil or Tylenol in your range bag, whatever works better for you. Then stay well-hydrated so you won't need it. Oh, and take tinted shooting glasses to reduce glare.

About that 'stay well hydrated' thing: Alcohol is a diuretic and will actually take liquid out of your system. If you imbibe after hours, drink at least 1/2 again as much water as you did alcohol before you go to bed (eg, if you drank 8 oz booze, drink 12 oz water). That'll stop you from starting the day behind the hydration curve.

Spare ear plugs are a good thing. They don't add any weight to your bag, don't take any real space, and might come in handy.

Put together a little first aid kit for yourself: New Skin, burn ointment, bandaids, eye drops, moleskin patches. Yeah, they'll have stuff there for students to use if you do something painful, but it's a lot less embarrassing to just take care of little owies yourself without mentioning it to the world.

Wear good shoes. You're going to be on your feet a lot.

Toss a pair of comfy tennies and a spare pair of socks into the car, or sandals if you like sandals better. No reason to let your feet hurt on the drive back to the motel.


As far as the class itself -- repeat this sentence as many times as you can until you believe it in your bones: "I am not here to impress the instructor or anyone else with my shooting skill. I am here to learn." Repeat it every time you feel annoyed because you made a mistake, every time you feel proud because you do well, every time the guy next to you shoots better than you do, and every time you find your attention wandering away from the instructions and focusing instead on how you're shooting. Sounds silly ... but it helps keep you focused on why you're there. You can brag later!

Have fun.


April 3, 2005, 09:11 PM
If you don't keep yourself hydrated, blood sugar up and your eyes clear you won't shoot your best.

You won't learn your best either which is what you're really there for. If you're distracted by too much discomfort you won't stay focused on the training as much as you should.
I'd also take a boatload ibuprofen or other OTC pain reliever of your choice with you. As well as some nylon or cloth first-aid tape to tape up blisters and tender spots.

April 3, 2005, 10:16 PM
Did anyone mention that you have to bring your own lunch, Front Sight has no dinning facilities. We stayed at the Saddle West Hotel in Pahrump, stopped at a convenience store and picked up cold sandwiches, fruit and snacks for the first day. Then when we got a chance, we went to a local grocery store and got food to make up our lunches for the next three days. So it would be helpfull to pack some type of cooler also.

April 3, 2005, 10:31 PM
Lotsa good advice here already. I'd add:

1. Be a sponge (with respect to both information and water :) ). If you learn by taking notes, bring a notepad and review it shortly after you get home.

2. Budget time/ammo for practice after the class. You'll do yourself a real disservice if you learn a pile of skills/drills during the four days and don't touch them again until your next class.

3. Have fun.

April 3, 2005, 11:49 PM
not sure you'll need it shooting a garand, but for a lot of classes, medical tape is highly recommended. wrap strategic fingers ahead of time to avoid blisters, slippage, etc.

probalby mentioned above, but electronic ear protectoin and a bungload of batteries, so you can hear the instruction without straining. it's also useful to be very aware of those around you.

April 4, 2005, 12:25 AM
I'm equally anxious to hear results of using the tanker for training. Ought to be a lot of fun at the least.

If you like em enough to take one to school, I'm sure you've prepared for this, but I'd watch out for 'garand thumb' striking. It would stink to get four or five smashes and have to deal with it being sore all day. Maybe just some med tape as the previous poster mentioned.

April 4, 2005, 12:37 AM
Wow. An M1.
I thought about doing that briefly.

April 4, 2005, 03:53 PM
Sounds like leaving the ego at home is a pretty universal suggestion. Works for me.

El Tejon - No La Bamba, eh? :) Anyway, I have a musette bag that use to hold my range stuff - if it's not big enough for the extra class gear I'll find something larger so it's all in one place. As for a mat, what I usually use at the range is a small but thick blanket - I rest my elbows on it while shooting prone and cover my rifle with it while not shooting. I'll have to check and see if the aforementioned bag will work as a rest with all the class gear in it.

bigjim - I'll definitely write up a class report and post it when I get back. I'm really looking forward to giving the M1 this kind of heavy workout.

pax - I already have my ammo cans marked, and I don't drink alcohol at all. Good idea about the little stuff - band-aids, earplugs, and such. I'll have to drop by a shop and get a gandful of such things.

cobb - Gotcha - I'll make sure to bring pllenty of food along.

Bix - I just got a half case of ammo (beyond what I'm taking to the class) just for that sort of extra practice.

April 5, 2005, 08:44 PM
leaving your ego at home is good advice no matter where you're going. however, it doesn't mean leaving common sense at home. I've gotten plenty of bad advice at schools. Many instructors (even and especially at the big name schools) are very opinionated about things outside their domain of competence, and they certainly bring their egos.

point being, keep an open mind, but don't feel bad about getting a second opinion

April 6, 2005, 12:15 PM
This is an article on the subject written by James Yeager of Tactical Response:

Get More From Your Training

By James Yeager

I would like to pass along some information that might make you tuition at your next class go further. This is directed toward firearms and tactical training but will most likely apply to other areas of Instruction as well. The motivation for this article is watching students go through the same evolution as I did and wishing they didn’t have to climb the same costly, time consuming, frustrating, ladder.

I remember my very first training class. It was very exciting and a little scary. Who were the other pistoleros? Would they laugh at me? Would they be safe? There were many things going through my mind as the class began.

I asked myself several times “Am I good enough to even take this course?” I know now that many first time students think that same thing prior to signing up. Many have even confided in me they had to work the courage up to even ask about taking the class. I have also found the opposite to be true in some cases. I have seen many people who think that professional training has nothing to offer them.

My first class, like many other students, held the highest amount of information I would ever take from one lesson. Why? Because shooting isn't too complex and after you get the fundamentals (sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, and follow-though) and technique (Weaver, Isosceles, etc) there isn't a lot left. No matter how "high speed" a class is advertised as it is still applying all of those basic things you learned at the first class.

I have been instructing for a while now and I still take multiple each year classes to keep up with the current "high speed" techniques (I also enjoy training), which as I said, aren't that new or that high speed. Being an Instructor has made me a better student. I have learned from the other side what makes a class flow more smoothly. I am going to give you my opinions on what will make you learn more in a training environment and get the most for your money.

The Golden Rule is to have an OPEN MIND. Go to every class with the opinion you know nothing. Push all of your previous training to the side and do the class EXACTLY like the Instructor tells you. Even if the Instructor tells you to do something that is alien or never worked for you in the past. I was taught the isosceles stance four times before I realized it is the best for me. I now look back at all of the money I wasted on training before I learned this concept. If you can’t honestly receive instruction with an open mind save your money and stay home.

Another problem changing techniques in a class is the fact that your groups might open up as you perfect the new method. This is a natural thing but 99.9% of us won't do it because we don't want to look bad in front of the other Ninjas. So we keep on pluggin' away with our inferior methods. If you change the way you shoot you will most likely have a short period of feeling awkward about the new technique. Classes are not competitions. Stay with it a while before you give up on it. It just might pay off.

Nobody wants to take a basic level class. Everyone wants an "advanced" class. I hate to be the one who breaks it to you but they are all pretty much the same. No REALLY BIG difference in a basic and advanced class. Sure advanced classes are different but not too much. Take basic classes. They contain a lot of very good information. I have taken about 7 or 8 basic classes and I learned a lot from every single one of them. I have found that less than 1% of shooters have a firm grasp on shooting fundamentals. Don't turn your nose up at lower level classes.

If you think you know more than the Instructor keep your mouth shut. It is his class and if you want to teach start your own school. I did. What you shouldn't do is interrupt and correct him, it is disruptive to the entire class. If you have a valid point to make wait for a break in the lecture, he will want to hear it. Don't tutor other students. If you want to teach....

After you take a class you must practice the things you learned. Getting new skills at a class and practicing is kind of like buying a new car and making payments. After you make enough payments the car is yours. If you go to the range and "make payments" the new skills will be yours too. Skip a few payments and they get repossessed.

I have taken MANY classes with guys who take training all of the time. At the beginning of every class they have to be shown the basics of how to shoot and they slow the class down. Take time between classes and ingrain those new techniques. IDPA and IPSC are great places to build skill and confidence.

No matter how good your favorite school may be you have to train at different places. If your school tells you to never do "this" go find a school that says to always do it. If you favorite school teaches Weaver go find an Isosceles program. Go to as many different types of learning environments as possible. Go to schools run by ex-military, police, champion shooters and learn something from all the different outlooks to be well rounded.

Most schools sell more pistol classes than all others combined. Learn to use those long guns, hands, knives and other tools too. Many people will train handgun and nothing else. You always have your hands, you don’t always have your other weapons. You will find your tactical toolbox to be empty those times when you have no alternative but to fight your way to safety bare handed.

Show up for class on time and be prepared to stay. I have been to schools that you "trained" 5 hours out of the 8 and yet others where you where begging for a break. Besides your standard range gear take water (Camelbak is best), a snack, bug repellant, sunscreen, and weather appropriate clothing if training outside. Pack any needed medications in your bag. It is perfectly acceptable to call the school ahead of time and get advice on the needed gear for the class. Many times this can save you from buying too much gear or the wrong gear.

Get plenty of sleep, don’t get drunk the night before class, and come to learn with an open mind and you will get the most for your training dollar!

30 cal slob
April 6, 2005, 12:22 PM
1) Notebook(s) and pens. Take notes, you're paying for the knowledge!

2) Camera (especially helpful to photograph shooting positions/techniques) that would be difficult to write down in a notebook.

3) If allowed, tape recorder to record lectures or notes. Clear with the instructor first.

4) After the class, get your instructor and classmate contact info (usually e-mails) so you can compare notes if you need to after the class.

5) Don't know if it was mentioned, but bring your cleaning kit and plan on contingency in case your bore cleaner/powder solvent gets confiscated by TSA (if you're flying).

April 6, 2005, 12:51 PM
That thing about the advanced classes is really good stuff. I have a sign hanging inside my locker at work: Excellence is the basics, mastered. The best shooter in the world is pretty much doing the same thing you learn in a basic class only he is doing it faster and with more skill. There are no secrets other than mastering the basics.
Or..... One shooting school I go to constantly talk about the three secrets. Sight aligment, sight picture, and trigger squeeze. In every class someone says; "those arn't secrets" to which they reply, if you arn't shooting good, they must be secrets to you.

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