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,
Just get a very simple momentary-on controlled
light with no other fancy features - ie, nothing else to go
Front Sight recommend the
Surefire lights, in particular the 6P (metal) and
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
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.
You'll need a strong belt to
hold your holster/pistol and magazines/pouches, and possibly
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 is mandatory,
and is not just an overly cautious over-reaction on Front
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
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.
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
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
$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
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
UPDATE May 2011
: Front Sight now mandate the use of electronic hearing
Noise Cancelling Headphones
Noise cancelling headphones
are excellent for reducing the background noise on your flight to
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
Front Sight Ear Protection
Front Sight include a set of
standard/passive (non electronic) hearing protectors in their
gun rental kits.
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).
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
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
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
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
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
Clothing and Shoes
Obviously, if the weather is
likely to be hot, wear light cool clothing, and don't wear
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Front Sight do not include
shooting gloves in their rental programs, but sell them in their
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.
of course have a huge
range of different range bags.
Hard-sided Pistol Case if
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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11 Sep 2010, last update
28 May 2011
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