My family and I just returned from our first 250 class. It was an amazing experience that we had looked forward to and planned for over a year. Purchasing the gear needed for the class, deciding on our lodging, and what we would eat was the easy part. The harder part was trying to figure out what to wear and what to expect for my teenage daughter and me. Some ladies shoot regularly and have a full wardrobe of pants with pockets, shooting shirts, and are comfortable wearing a holster and mag pouches, but others like us are new to the shooting sport and don’t really know what is needed for ladies. Women dress differently than men and some of us don’t carry our pistols the same way men do. But when we are attending a Gunsite class we need to modify our clothes just a bit to allow us to go through the training and learn the methods of safe gun handling and proper gun fighting. That means that for the 250 class my daughter and I had to make some adjustments to our standard style of dress to accommodate the holster, gun, and mag pouch. What to Wear: Some things are the same for men and women. All of us need a designated gun belt to hold up all the gear, holster, and a double mag pouch but there are other questions you may be asking as you plan what to wear.
Some women have an engrained mentality to always try to look their best and feel comfortable with their clothing choices. But once we got into the class, we realized it didn’t really matter what we were wearing. Instead, we realized that we were focused on learning to protect and defend our families and the ones we love. If you forget any of these items that you need, the Pro Shop is easily accessible throughout the week and carries most everything you can think of! Extra Things to Bring:
- Shoes: You will be walking a lot in the sand out on the range. You will also be navigating some rocky paths when you do your outdoor simulators. Tennis shoes are fine for your class but we found that hiking shoes with a good grip and comfortable fit were helpful. Some shoes have waterproof material that will assist in keeping the sand out of your socks and off your feet. Bonus - hiking shoes are useful for hiking back at home.
- Pants: You can wear any pants (skinny, loose fit, boot cut, etc) you want but keep in mind that you need pockets. I don’t typically wear tactical pants in my regular life so I didn’t want to invest in pants that I would only wear one week of the year. Instead, I found some pants that had side pockets so they would hold multiple magazines, flashlight, and extra ammo while attending the class and still be comfortable in real-life wear. The style of pants is not important as long as they are durable and flexible enough to handle the different positions needed for kneeling and prone positions etc.
- Shirts: Keep in mind that guns eject hot brass that can and will go down your shirt. It may be best to choose crew neck t-shirts instead of low necklines or tank tops. Because Gunsite is located in the high desert and temperatures can be extreme, you may also want to choose moisture-wicking dry fit t-shirts that help regulate your body temperature and control sweat.
- Socks: Even though the range is out in the sand, I felt comfortable with low ankle socks that I normally wear. You may want to bring one pair of longer socks in case you want the extra protection from the sand.
- Knee Pads: Once you start learning the different kneeling techniques, you will use those different positions throughout the week. Most of the time, your instructor will not give you a warning that you will be using the kneeling positions. Choose knee pads that are easy to pull up when you want them and down to your ankles if you don’t. Another possibility is knee pads that can be worn inside your pants.
- Hat: You will wear a hat all day at the range (ball cap, floppy hat with a brim). It will have your name tag on the back so instructors and other classmates can easily call out your name. Make sure your hat will work with your ear protection that is required at all times on the range. Wear a cap that is comfortable but remember that you will sweat a lot and it will get sandy and dusty.
What to Expect Emotionally One of the goals of the class is to prepare your mind for an event in which your life is in jeopardy and you have to use your firearm to defend yourself. This is an emotionally heavy concept, so for my daughter and I—who had previously not considered it to any great length—it brought out a strong emotional response. Be aware of the possibility and know that If you feel it you are not the first nor will you be the last. The good thing about having these experiences now is that I will be better able to handle the situations in real life. After a week of solid instruction, I left feeling more confident with the knowledge that I have dealt with potential emotional responses in a classroom setting. Attending Gunsite is a life-changing experience that will shape the rest of my life. I’m already planning a return for the next class! ____________ Sharon Williams and her family attended their first 250 Class in Summer 2020. Sharon lives in the rolling hills of Kentucky and enjoys spending time making memories with her family. You can find her blogging daily at www.hobbiesonabudget.com.
- Feminine Products: Range days don’t stop if you are on your cycle. There are restrooms available in walking distance from each of the ranges so you can take care of any needs during reloading breaks.
- Fitness Cool Towels: It is hot on the range so bring a cool fit towel to help keep your temperature regulated. You can wet the towel as needed.
- Sunscreen: Keep sunscreen in your range bag so you can reapply as needed.
- Drink Powder: Gunsite does provide ice water and Gatorade powder at the range, but I also found it very helpful to keep powder electrolyte packets in my bag so I could sip on this all day and maintain hydration. You can purchase these in the pharmacy section of most grocery or drugstores.
- Snacks: Keep a snack bar or crackers in your range bag so you can grab a super quick snack when you get a break.
- Lip Protection: The range is a mix of blowing sand, hot sun, high elevation, and dry weather so your lips may become cracked and dry. Keep chapstick in your range bag or in a pocket to help protect your lips. (Note that chapped lips can also be a sign of dehydration so if you are dealing with this, respond to the issue and drink up!)
Sharon Williams, 250 Pistol Class, July 2020, Gunsite, Paulden, AZ