What to Bring to your first QSI Handgun Class

We’re just a few weeks away from our first Defensive Handgun class of the season, and we wanted to offer some advice to new (and returning) students, based on our experience.


First Rule of a Gunfight: Bring a Gun.  The same applies to QSI courses.

We strongly recommend bringing the same gun you are carrying or intend to carry for self-defense.  Your gun should be in good working order and chambered in a reasonable defensive caliber.

Before class, it’s a good idea to disassemble your gun, clean it, and put a light coat of oil on the moving parts.  Don’t apply too much; a light coat is all you need.  We see a lot of guns fail in classes due to too much (or too little) lubrication.

Bringing a spare gun, if you have one, is a good idea.


There are two ways to bring your gun to a class: LOADED and in a holster, or UNLOADED and in a case.

If you have a Permit-to-Carry, the obvious way to bring your gun to class is loaded and in the holster.  If you aren’t carrying your gun, then please bring it unloaded in a case.  Please do not handle your gun without talking to an Instructor first.  We’ll arrange for everyone to line up on the firing line and get their guns into the proper configuration for the class.

QSI runs a “hot” range.  This means your gun will be loaded and in the holster for the duration of the course.  We do this so our students can get used to carrying, maintain control of their guns, and because carrying an empty gun is frankly just silly.


You can load your magazines before the class – go ahead and load them fully.

A speedloader, such as a LULA, can be helpful for reloading magazines.  Bring at least three magazines, more if you have them.  You will also need a magazine pouch to carry them in.  QSI has loaners if you need, just let us know beforehand.

Bring 350 rounds of reliable ammo.  Use only ammo you trust; it only takes one bad round to put your gun out of commission.


Our preference is the strong-side hip or appendix holster.   If you wish to bring a shoulder holster or other holster to class, please let us know beforehand.  Some “one-way” holster designs, while effective for concealment, can be difficult to use in a class because reholstering may be difficult.   We’re happy to work with you.

Avoid any and all nylon holsters.  They are unsuitable for serious use.

If you don’t have a decent holster for your gun, let us know, again, loaners are available.


Bring plenty of drinking water.  We will provide some for the class.  Regardless of the weather, outdoor activities can result in dehydration.  Bring some snacks to keep your energy up.  Ahlman’s has some drinks and snacks in the shop.

We ask that everyone bring a lunch so we can eat at the range.  This helps keep the class on schedule.


We recommend investing in a set of electronic hearing protection.  You can get these for under $50 if you shop around.  Electronic ear protection uses noise-cancelling technology which allows you to hear the range commands from the instructors.

Eye protection should cover the eyes on the front and sides.  Prescription eyewear is fine for this.  Sunglasses are recommended.

A baseball cap, or other brimmed hat, is needed to keep hot brass from lodging behind your shooting glasses or going down your shirt.  Avoid low-cut shirts for the same reason.

Long-sleeve shirts and pants are recommended, but not required.  Keep in mind you may be lying, rolling, or sitting on the ground during the class.

Some students prefer to wear gloves, as handling their gun can be hard on the hands.  If you bring gloves, make sure you can operate your gun while wearing them.

Dress for the weather; bring a jacket and rain gear.  You never know what the weather will do.  We run classes rain or shine, so be prepared.  Footwear should be closed-toe and provide good ankle support.


Sunscreen and insect repellent are a must.  You’re going to be outdoors, after all.

A notebook and pen for note-taking can be useful.


We love our students and are dedicated to their success!  See you on the range!





Erik is the owner and founder of QSI. He has over 35 years of experience as a firearms instructor, including military, security, and law enforcement.