By Dr. John Meade
Director of Tactical Medicine
There are a variety of things that you should remember when you are planning to attend a gun class. Some are items to take, and some are actions to take. Both are vitally important.
Second gun--You certainly don't want to miss the class if your gun breaks during the first hour. If it is a pistol class, be sure the spare fits your holster.
Spare gun parts--As with the need for a full second gun, you are wise to carry a few spare parts for your gun(s). Sometimes a simple spring replacement is all that is needed to get the primary weapon back up & running.
Tools--At least bring a multi-tool, so that you can use whatever parts you brought. Also a cleaning rod, to dislodge stuck cases.
Simple cleaning supplies-While you don't need to detail strip your gun, you at least might want to clean off the mud and apply some lube occasionally.
Extra batteries--For optics, hearing protection, flashlights, etc.
Shooting glasses & baseball cap--to protect from flying brass & richochets.
Hearing protection--Electronic ear muffs are the standard now. You want to be able to hear range commands, learn more, and be safer than with old-fashioned plugs or muffs.
Ammo--Bring at least 50% more than the published class minimum. You will shortchange your training if you have to limit the number of rounds you shoot, compared with your classmates.
Mag loader--A LULA or similar device will save your thumbs. Loading as many mags as you can before the class will allow you to concentrate on discussions, rather than constantly having to run back to reload mags.
Duct tape--Do I really have to explain this?
Clothes for class--Layers, because you are sure to get warm during activity.
Clothes for night--Spend some time with the other students. Make some great new friends.
Garbage bags--Good for bagging up your dirty clothes and boots after the class.
Baby wipes & clothes for the drive home--Make the drive home just a little more bearable!
Rain jacket and pants--SI classes run, rain or shine.
Insect repellent, sunscreen, Band-Aids, Ace bandage--Improve your overall experience by avoiding those little annoyances.
Camera--To record the fun!
Folding chair--For a little comfort during breaks.
Food--Put a cooler in the car with a few snacks (granola bars, fruit), and something for lunch (peanut butter & jelly). You will be expending a lot of energy. Your engine cannot function without fuel.
Water--Heat exhaustion is an insidious problem. Even in temperatures that don't seem horribly hot, you will lose water at a very rapid rate. I recommend you bring 2-3 gallons of water with you, if the temp is moderate. If it is really hot, bring 5! Drink much more water than you think you need. One of the first symptoms of dehydration is headache. Don't wait until you are thirsty; if you wait, you will already be dehydrated. You should be urinating at least every couple of hours. The urine should be clear in color; if it is dark, you are getting dehydrated. At a recent class in ~85 degree weather, I drank about 1 liter per hour, and still was not over-hydrated. If you are someone who is not acclimated to the heat (office worker, from cooler climates, or it is early in the summer), you should drink even more!
Shemagh or other cooling method--A shemagh or large bandanna can be soaked in cool water and wrapped around your neck. It will cool the blood going to your head, and the evaporation of the water removes excess body heat. Some people also wet their caps, or their shirts, for additional evaporative cooling.
Don't overlook these things, and end up having to quit a class you have already spent time & money to take. Just a little attention to these matters will enable you to have fun, and learn what you intended to learn from your class.
For state of the art training, come train with me and the other Suarez International staff.
Dr. John Meade is Director of Tactical Medicine for Suarez International (www.suarezinternational.com), and a board-certified Emergency Physician. He is a reserve police officer on a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team, an EMS medical director and an NRA certified instructor. He may be contacted on WarriorTalk, or his website at www.statdoc.com .