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Here are some more items not quite so central to your training but which will positively enhance your experience.

Hopefully you've already thought of sunblock, but read on through and you're sure to find something you hadn't thought of before.

 
 
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What to Bring to a Front Sight Firearms Course

Part 3 - Various other non-gun related items that will greatly improve your experience
 

A good light does not have the 'deadly donut' grey spot in the center, instead giving an even powerful beam.  Surefire lights are recommended by Front Sight.

Part of a series on the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute; what it does, how it does it, and its relevance for you.  Please click the links on the right hand side for other parts of the series.

 

 

Here are some more suggestions and tips when filling out the rest of your kit for your training course at Front Sight.

These are generally things that you'll get ongoing value and use from into the future, and so we again urge you to buy good quality solutions rather than cheap lower quality items.

Use these three pages both as check lists and as shopping lists to ensure you have everything you could possibly need, and that you make the right choices under the item categories discussed.

Light (and Light Holster)

You need a flashlight for the night course (note - the four day defensive handgun course no longer includes a night shoot; the two day 'Skills Builder' course does).  Ideally it will be fairly small in size, have a powerful bright light, and have a 'momentary on' button on its rear.

A momentary-on button is one which turns the light on while it is being pushed in, and then which goes off again as soon as you release pressure on the button/switch.  This is the easiest and quickest way of controlling your light, and also means you don't have a light which, in a real situation, could give you away by making clicking sounds as you turn it on and off.

Talking about turning your light on and off, don't get one with a fancy switch that requires one push to go on, a second push to go onto a brighter on, and a third push which makes it start flashing, or any other type of control like that.  You'll be frantically pushing away at it, and the light will be doing everything except what you want.  You push and want it to go out, and instead it goes to bright, killing your night vision, or to strobe, disorienting you!

Just get a very simple momentary-on controlled light with no other fancy features - ie, nothing else to go wrong.

Front Sight recommend the Surefire lights, in particular the 6P (metal) and G2 (plastic).  They are usually very robust, and I am happy with my G2.  Both output 65 lumens for one hour, or with an optional brighter light, 120 lumens for 20 minutes.  The G2 is about $40, or somewhat more in LED form.

A very bright light can almost stun an attacker at night, but they can also damage your own night vision, making you reliant on the light, and as soon as that happens, you've become tactically vulnerable.  For that reason, we prefer a moderate rather than blinding light - assuming we're only needing to shine a short distance away from us, and by definition, if there is no threat close to us, then, ahem, there is no threat, period.

The 65 lumens from the G2 is more than enough for typical distances around a house, and a light half as bright would be just as adequate.

Note that the difference in light brightness is not as great as you might expect - there is some type of 'inverse square' law that means to get a light that is 'twice' as bright, you need four times as much power.  So, for example, my Surefire light with 'only' 65 lumens might seem underpowered compared to the continual trend to more and more powerful lights, but at typical distances around a house, it puts out plenty of light to clearly illuminate whatever you're shining it at, and it could even be argued that too bright a light will give you problems if you have your eyes adjusted to the ambient light/darkness around you.

On the other hand, try and choose a light with an output of at least, maybe, 35 lumens.

If you have a choice between an LED light and any other sort of light, choose the LED light, because it lasts longer before burning out and uses less battery power.  It will cost a little more to purchase it, but you'll probably save the extra cost the first time you need to buy replacement batteries, and the greater reliability of the LED light means you won't have a bulb burn out at a critical moment.

If you can choose between a light which uses regular AA or AAA batteries and one which uses harder to find and more expensive lithium cells, choose the one that takes regular batteries.  You can always raid some other gadget in the house if you need replacement batteries in an emergency, and you can always buy them at any 7-11 or other store, but the lithium batteries are harder to find.

An optional item is a holster to carry the light in.  This is not really essential at all for the Front Sight course, but you might want to have an 'emergency belt' made up at home that has your firearm, spare magazines, and flashlight all in place, so if you need to get up in the middle of the night to defend against a possible intruder, all you do is grab the belt and snap it on, with all your gear ready to go on it.

Front Sight Light Options

There is some ambiguity about whether or not Front Sight provide lights in their rental gun kits or not.  However, whether they were promised or not, none were provided.

There was also a vague mention of there being some spare loaner lights available, but when push came to shove, none eventuated.

So bring your own, or buy one in their Pro Shop.

Belt

You'll need a strong belt to hold your holster/pistol and magazines/pouches, and possibly flashlight too.

Front Sight recommend the Uncle Mike's Instructor Belt, and all their instructors use them.  It is a very sturdy strong belt, in black, and if you don't already have a suitable belt, this would be a good choice.  About $15 at Amazon.

Front Sight Belt Options

Front Sight include an Uncle Mike Instructor Belt as part of their gun rental kits and also sell them in their Pro Shop.

Eye Protection

Eye protection is mandatory, and is not just an overly cautious over-reaction on Front Sight's part.

I was splattered with pieces of bullets and fragments of metal from target plates on a couple of occasions, and ejected casings fly all around the range during firing practice.

You should bring two sets of eye protection - one set with good tinting to cut down on the extremely bright sunlight in summer (I strongly advocate polarized lenses), and one clear set for your night shooting lesson.

Front Sight Eye Protection Options

Front Sight provide a set of clear untinted safety glasses in their standard gun rental kits.  These are typically well used and have some scratching on them.  It is probably better to buy a good pair (they are not very expensive) and bring your own.

Ear Protection

Of course you must use some sort of ear/hearing protection.  You'll end up wearing this for many hours each day, so choose something comfortable.

Increasingly people are choosing electronic headsets that have microphones on the outside of them and intelligent circuitry inside.  This will feed through the outside ambient noise - indeed, if you turn the volume controls up it can even amplify the outside noises giving you enhanced hearing - but as soon as it detects a sudden loud noise (ie gunshot) it will briefly switch off and instead you'll get the full blocking effect of the headphones.  When the noise passes, the headphones switch their microphones back on again.

Once you've tried these, you'll never want to go back to normal headphones.  There are a couple of good brands, but I prefer the Peltor headphones.

One of the other leading brands have red indicator lights on them.  None of us realized this until our night shoot, and then suddenly in the dark, we could see bobbing red lights around us on the heads of people with the other brand of headphones - an amusing thing on the range, but how would you like to be creeping around your house in the dark, seeking out an intruder, while the headphones on your head were glowing a dull red, enabling your intruder to clearly see exactly where you were and framing your head into a nice tempting target for him?

The Peltor headphones (now a part of 3M) come in various different models.  The Peltor 97044 Tactical 6S unit lists for about $90 and can be found on Amazon for about $50-60 (price varies from time to time) and is the unit I bought, and which I have been reasonably pleased with.

On the other hand, when you're close to the sound of a huge amount of gunfire - 40 people each firing 600 rounds means 24,000 shots fired close to you over four days (and more rounds from adjacent ranges too) - even these nice Peltors left me with some distinct pain in my ears.  The Peltor 6S only reduces sound by 19 dB, whereas passive hearing protectors can do as much as 10dB more than this (a substantial difference in protection).

So if your budget can stretch a bit further, you'll probably get value from better sound suppression.  Peltor also have a model 97039 Tactical 7S with appreciably better sound protection (24 dB), but these are twice the price (about $140 on Amazon).  A further upgrade to the Peltor MT15H7F SV Tactical Pro gives you the ability to plug in an audio feed (eg from an iPod or walkie talkie or cell phone) and slightly better noise muffling (26dB).  These are about $160 on Amazon.

UPDATE May 2011 :  Front Sight now mandate the use of electronic hearing protection.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise cancelling headphones are excellent for reducing the background noise on your flight to Las Vegas.

But they are dangerously useless for sufficiently reducing the sound of gunfire while you're at Front Sight.  Noise cancelling headphones only operate across a narrow band of frequencies, and typically give you 10 - 15 dB of noise reduction in that area.  Proper hearing protectors will give you 25dB or more of noise protection across a broader spectrum of frequencies.

Do not plan on using noise cancelling headphones.

Front Sight Ear Protection Options

Front Sight include a set of standard/passive (non electronic) hearing protectors in their gun rental kits.

Hat

This might seem like a strange piece of essential equipment, but Front Sight require everyone to wear a hat with some type of a front bill to it.

The reason for this is it gives more protection to your face and chest, making it harder for ejected shell casings from the person to your left on the firing range not only hitting you, but falling down into your safety glasses or down the front of your shirt.

Any baseball cap style hat will be fine.

In addition to considering protecting yourself against shell casings falling down the front of your shirt, you might also wish to consider the possibility of shell casings falling down the back of your shirt too (this happened to one of the people I was traveling with the second time I was there), either by wearing a tight necked top garment or a hat with a 360 brim.

Front Sight Hat Options

Front Sight do not include a hat in their rental program, but if you end up without one, they sell various baseball type hats in their Pro Shop (and on the second course I attended, they were even offering free loaners on the range).

Concealment Garment

Talking about clothing, the last two days become increasingly focused on drawing (or to use the preferred term, 'presenting') and holstering your weapon from 'concealment', and you'll need to have some sort of a garment to wear over your belt and holster.  The term 'concealment' doesn't mean that you are hidden, but rather that your weapon is 'concealed' upon your person.  In truth, with the standard type holster you'll be wearing, there's very little real-world concealment, but some type of outer clothing is needed to practice the extra step when presenting from concealment that are required to first get your concealment garment out of the way.

This concealment can be in the form of a light jacket or even a loose shirt with long tail.  In the extreme heat, a popular choice was a sleeveless fishing vest type garment - its many pockets were also useful for holding extra magazines, loose rounds, a speed loader, and whatever else you might want to keep with you.

Choose something that will be easy to flip away from where your pistol will be holstered.  When you're trying to present your weapon from concealment and fire two aimed shots, all in a mere 1.5 seconds, even a tenth of a second saved by having something easy to flip/flick out of the way can make the difference between getting off both shots and not.

It helps if there is a bit of weight in the part of the garment you'll be flipping away, so as to give it a bit of stiffness and momentum to positively move it when flipping.  A long-tailed shirt is therefore not as good a choice as perhaps a lightweight 'windbreaker' or lightweight nylon shell type jacket, and some people suggest placing a couple of rounds in the pocket of the jacket to give it a bit more weight.

Two types of concealment garment

There are basically two types of garment that provide concealment - those with an open front (ie a jacket or vest) and those with a closed front (ie a shirt or sweater).

It is very much quicker and easier to present from an open front concealment garment, and so for that reason, we strongly recommend you bring some sort of open front garment for this part of the course.

Front Sight Concealment Garment Options

Front Sight do not include any clothing in their rental program, but they do sell a variety of clothing items that would serve as a concealment garment if by some chance you end up on-range without something that you could use.

Clothing and Shoes

Obviously, if the weather is likely to be hot, wear light cool clothing, and don't wear anything black.

In the cooler months, there can be a range of temperatures from hot to cold, so bring some layers with you.

I wore shorts and shirts or t-shirts each day in September, as did many others.  None of us were dressing to impress, we were all dressing for maximum comfort and temperature control.  In October, I wore regular long trousers.

One thought when choosing a shirt or other garment for the top half of your body.  If you have something with a loose/open collar, there is a possibility of having an ejected shell casing fall down your back; this could be very uncomfortable.  It helps to protect against this by either wearing a hat with an all-around brim or else something that has a tighter neck opening such as a crew-neck t-shirt or mock polo neck garment.

As for shoes, I wore open sandals and that really helped to keep me cool.  There's no need to wear combat boots or even tennis shoes unless you want to, because you're not doing any special athletic type movements.

Consider 'cargo' type trousers

You'll want to have extra pockets on whatever you are wearing in which to keep spare ammo, spare magazines, maybe your speed loader, and who knows what else.

A pair of cargo trousers, with extra pockets, present as a great way to have lots of carrying capacity for everything you'll want to have with you when standing on the line at the range.

We recommend against traditional blue jeans, because the pockets tend to be a bit tight and hard to quickly insert/withdraw things like spare magazines, extra rounds, speedloader, etc.

Front Sight Clothing and Shoes Options

Nothing is included by Front Sight in their rental packages, but they do sell a few things in their Pro Shop.

There is also a Walmart in Pahrump on Hwy 160 that is open 24 hrs a day, so if you find yourself missing something essential, or if something breaks, you can always make an emergency trip to Walmart.

Shooting Gloves

Here's an item you might not think about, but which you should consider.

It seemed that everyone, without exception, ended up with blisters, cuts, scrapes and scratches during the four days of intense firearms handling.

Quite apart from the obvious issues when actually firing the weapon, you'll be repeatedly drawing the weapon, racking the slide, inserting and releasing magazines, loading ammunition, indexing magazines (a procedure whereby whenever you are loading/unloading/checking a magazine you put your index finger over the front top of it to feel for the presence of bullets), and so on, all of which is stressful, much of which can cause blisters unless you have toughened skin on your hands to start with, and some of which will sometimes inevitably end up in scratches and scrapes.

Buying a pair of shooting gloves would probably help you reduce the prevalence of such minor injuries.  If you are considering this, we suggest a light-weight very flexible type of glove that fits closely and doesn't deaden too much your sensations of touch, still allowing you to remain nimble without taking away from your dexterity.

In addition, you'll often find in the heat that your hands become sweaty and so slip on the weapon when you're gripping it by the front of the slide (the rear of the slide usually has ribbing to help you grip, but the front is often smooth and so is harder to grasp), gloves can help you get a better grip at such times.  (A bit of rough surfaced friction tape on the smooth sides of the slide is a good idea too.)

Here's a link to Amazon's listing of shooting gloves, but this might be something you want to try out in person at your local sports or shooting store.

In addition to gloves that cover your whole hand and the full length of each finger, there are some gloves which have cut outs for the tips of each finger.  In my case, all the cuts and scratches I experienced came from lower down on the fingers and on my palm, so the concept of cut away finger tips doesn't seem to compromise much on protection while giving you much less reduction in dexterity for things requiring a good sense of touch (such as loading magazines).

Front Sight Shooting Glove Options

Front Sight do not include shooting gloves in their rental programs, but sell them in their Pro Shop.

Range Bag

You'll want something to transport your stuff to and from Front Sight each day.  It will need to hold your pistol, magazines, 300 rounds of ammunition (ie enough for a day and some spare 'just in case'), speed loader, eye and ear protection, some clothing layers, perhaps some food, and various other bits and pieces of kit that you bring with you.

Any sort of bag should be fine.  You can get a dedicated 'range bag' but it is really no better than any other sort of bag.  Amazon of course have a huge range of different range bags.

Hard-sided Pistol Case if Flying

If you're taking your pistol(s) with you on a flight to Las Vegas, you'll need to follow TSA and airline procedures for transporting it/them.

Basically this is very simple and means you put the weapons inside a hardsided case that you then must padlock (recommended to use two padlocks, one on each side) and place inside a regular suitcase.

The padlocks do not need to be the TSA compliant ones for which they have master keys.  They can be key or combination type locks.

These issues are all discussed in greater detail on our page all about transporting firearms by air.

Water

There is no need to bring your own water with you.

Plenty of water is always available, for free, on their site.  Front Sight even provide free plastic cups, too.

Energy Drinks

We mention this merely for the sake of completeness.  We noticed some people sipping on various super-caffeinated energy drinks during each day.  They said it helped them to be alert and to perform better.

We don't agree with their perception.  Drinking caffeine for one thing increases your risk of dehydration.  And maybe it makes you more awake, but maybe it also makes it harder to focus and calm down.

If you use and like such things and find them helpful, then go for it, of course.  But if you don't, now is probably not a good time to start.

Gatorade

Front Sight used to provide Gatorade powder to mix in with the water they provided on site, but this is no longer offered.  Their instructors formerly said that you should have one cup of Gatorade for every three or four cups of regular water so as to maintain your electrolytes.

We imagine that recommendation holds true now too, so you should consider bringing some Gatorade powder with you.

Food

Front Sight does not have any type of food service.  You will need to bring your own food and/or order box lunches from their caterers.

Most people found the box lunches to be excellent and fairly priced.  You'll get details of this with your confirmation packet of material from Front Sight.

Sunscreen and Chap Stick

You probably are planning for this anyway, but just to quickly restate - bring good strong sunscreen (SPF-30 or so - don't go too high because some reports suggest the strongest sunscreens may contain carcinogens) and be aware that you'll probably need to reapply it at least once during your long day.  Cover all exposed parts of your body, and be sensitive to the potential for UV to penetrate through thin garments and still burn you underneath the clothing.

Due to the high heat and low humidity, some people experience dry and cracking lips, so you might want to consider bringing a chap stick as well.

See also our page about year-round weather issues in the Nevada desert.

Part of a multi-part series

Please click the links at the top right of this page to read through other parts of this extensive series on Front Sight and the training they offer.

 

If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal.

 

Originally published 11 Sep 2010, last update 08 Jul 2017

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
Related Articles
Front Sight Firearms Training Institute - an Introduction to this Series
About the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute
Front Sight Update 2011
Gun Safety Issues
Discounted Front Sight Course Certificates - too good to be true?
Front Sight Lifetime Memberships
Join the Travel Insider at Front Sight, November 2011
The Instructors and Instruction
Front Sight's Ranges and Training Scenarios
When to use Lethal Force
What to Bring to a Front Sight Course - Pistol
What to Bring to a Front Sight Course - Essential Extras
What to Bring to a Front Sight Course - Other Valuable Equipment
What to do After Attending a Front Sight Course
Where to Stay and What to Eat in Pahrump, NV
Weather Issues in the NV desert
Traveling and Flying with Firearms and Ammunition
All About Body Armor and Bullet Proof Vests
 
 
 

 


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