You’ve signed up for your first defensive pistol class, chosen a proper training gun, and you’re geared up; now what do you wear? If you’re training with Paladin Group, then you’ll likely be outdoors, so dress accordingly. However, here are some recommendations that should apply regardless of who you’re training with or the weather conditions:
Let’s start from the ground up. Obviously, you want to be comfortable, and this applies to everything worn on training day. You’re going to be on your feet most of the time, so footwear choice is possibly the most important. If your feet are hurting, then you won’t have a good time. Sneakers, trail running shoes, hiking boots/shoes, and tactical-style boots are all good choices. You want footwear that is durable, will protect your feet, and is conducive to rapid movement. No open-toed shoes, sandals, or dress footwear. Pair whatever you choose with some moisture-wicking socks and your feet will thank you. And be sure your footwear is broken in ahead of time.
Again comfort is key with all of your clothing choices. You might look great in those super-tight jeans, but kneeling, bending, and moving around all day in them might not feel so great. Pants with some give (room to move) will serve you well. I prefer the tactical style pants from 5.11 and LA Police Gear but there are many others out there. Some have pockets sewn in behind the knees for inserting thin neoprene knee pads. And extra pockets are good to have for stashing spare mags and extra loose ammo. Even if it’s hot out, try to avoid wearing shorts. Bare legs when hot brass is flying around and while kneeling on the ground or moving around barriers is not a good idea.
We prefer students wear something with a close-fitting neck or a high collar. This will keep the aforementioned hot brass from falling down your shirt, which usually results in the “hot brass dance.” Long sleeves or short sleeves are your choice. Tank tops are a definite no—too much bare skin exposed that can be scraped, burned, or worse. I like moisture-wicking polos and oxford-style button-down shirts. And if it’s chilly, be sure to layer.
I prefer to go without a jacket whenever possible when training. It adds extra bulk, limiting my movement, and it can hinder access to my holster and mag pouches. Even it’s cold out, I’ll layer up with a sweater and wear a close-fitting fleece vest, leaving my arms free to move. If it’s raining, and we do train in rain, obviously a breathable rain jacket is a must.
There are people who function fine in gloves and then there are folks like me who are all thumbs with them. Now, can I shoot, load a gun, and do the basics with them on? Sure. But I’m always going to be better with my bare hands. I’ll only glove up when it’s really cold or wet (or when running a gun that’s cut me in the past). It’s up to you whether gloves are right for you. If you do go with them, invest in a pair of properly fitting tactical/shooting gloves and practice with them.
Remember the hot brass dance? Well imagine that hot cartridge casing landing on your scalp? Wear a hat. Ball cap styles work great because the brim can keep those nasty hot casings from falling into your face!
Dress accordingly for class and you’ll be in a better position to learn and be comfortable.
-Brian Bertoldo, Instructor, Paladin Group Training, LLC