We’ve had quite a few students come through our training classes over the years, and most come prepared with the correct gear and clothing. However, every once in a while—to our amazement—we a have student who arrives not quite dressed for the occasion.
To prevent our readers from becoming “that guy or girl,” I’m sharing our “What Not to Wear to a Firearms Training Class” list (in no particular order). (Note: All images have been recreated to protect the not-so-innocent!)
1. PRISTINE WHITE DRESS SHIRT
We held a team-building range session for a large corporate firm. Quite a few people were dressed for a day of golf. A white, button-down shirt is not the best choice for an event that involves putting ammunition into sooty magazines, which often makes one’s fingers and hands black. A better choice would be a shirt made for the outdoor weather and that also provides some sort of sun protection.
Ricochets (“splash-back”) happen more than many people realize—especially when shooting steel. Plus, casings left on the range floor can be slipped on, and they hurt like the dickens when you kneel on them. When dynamic shooting or steel is involved on a range, a better choice is long pants.
Yep, the same student noted in #1 and #2 sported flip-flops. Did we mention our outdoor range is made of black cinders? The hazards that can befall toes and feet are almost endless and include hot brass, stubbed toes and having heavy objects dropped on them. But for the grace of God, that student ended the day uninjured … but very dirty. A better choice on the range is always close-toed shoes.
4. V-NECK OR COLLARED SHIRTS
Ladies, especially those who are well endowed, should avoid V-neck shirts. Hot brass, either from the student’s own gun or their neighbor’s gun on the shooting line, inevitably finds the V-neck funnel. Aside from the fact that it will leave a pretty good mark, it also leads to the “hot brass dance,” which can be dangerous: The student jumps around, often with flailing arms and waving a loaded firearm, trying to get the hot brass off her skin. A better choice is a higher-neck shirt or even a neck gaiter to keep the hot brass out.
“… Every once in a while—to our amazement— we a have student who arrives not quite dressed for the occasion.”
5. PANTS WITHOUT BELT LOOPS
Simply put: Belts are held in place by belt loops. Cinching a belt over a sweatshirt or loosely slung on yoga pants is not conducive to successful firearms training. The belt needs to stay in place so the holster is always where it needs to be. You shouldn’t have to hold your belt down on your hips while you try to draw your pistol. Find pants with belt loops that are strong and wide enough for the belt to fit through.
6. FASHIONABLE OR DRESS-STYLE BELTS
We see a lot of braided or fashion belts that don’t have the strength to keep the holster up on the waist and in place. During a full day of firearms training, there will be numerous draws from the holster. A thick belt, made specifically for use with a holster, is a much better choice.
7. STYLISH SUNGLASSES
Everyone knows eye protection is mandatory on a range. However, some students don’t realize the importance of wearing glasses specific to shooting. Those fashionable sunglasses worn at the beach aren’t designed to stop high-velocity objects flying toward your eyes. Do some research and find eye protection with lenses that wrap around and are both impact resistant and shatterproof.
10. IWB (INSIDE-THE-WAISTBAND) HOLSTER
When a student wears an IWB holster, he often struggles getting the gun safely back in, causing class to slow down. A solid OWB (outside-the-waistband) holster is the better choice when attending a pistol class with a high round count—unless, of course, the class is specific to concealed carry or you are very proficient with your IWB holster.
11. SOFT, WORN LEATHER HOLSTER
Everyone has a favorite holster, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best holster to go through a thousand-draws class. Every time people come with a worn-in leather pancake holster, they struggle while re-holstering. Often, they end up pointing the gun at their hip, trying to open it up. A strong Kydex holster is the better choice for classes that involve constant re-holstering throughout the day.
12. COMPACT GUN
Men and women, alike, will come to training with a small, single-stack compact pistol, intending to shoot it the entire time. When a class involves shooting 1,000 rounds over a couple of days, they realize those little guns aren’t the easiest to shoot. Yes, you should train with your carry gun; however, when learning the fundamentals of marksmanship or attending a high-round-count class, a full-sized pistol offers greater success in the long run.
“We see a lot of braided or fashion belts that don’t have the strength to keep the holster up on the waist and in place.”
I’m not saying students have to be “tacti-cool”—or even tactical—when attending firearms training classes. Heck, I’ve been known to wear my wide-brimmed fishing hat and pink scarf to keep the sun off my face while teaching.
I do hope you had a little giggle while reading this training column; and, perhaps because of my suggestions, you will have more success at the next course you attend.
Michelle Cerino is both a firearms trainer and the president of Cerino Consulting and Training Group, LLC—a firearms training company she built with her husband, Chris, in 2011. She writes, hunts and competes in major 3-gun matches nationwide.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the August 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.