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So you’ve signed up for Defensive Handgun Skill Builder class! Between being excited for the opportunity to shoot dynamic drills on an outdoor range and the eagerness to build on your self defense skills, you may have some concerns as to what you need to bring with you to have a successful learning experience.

We’ll talk about some things that will set you up for success in Defensive Handgun Skill Builder class and any future firearms classes you may attend, whether they be with us at Monarch Defense or any other instructor/school. 

First let’s talk about your hardware (guns, gear etc…)

No need to get all kitted out, but DO bring the necessities.


This one may seem like a no brainer, but you should be wearing a belt when you attend class. While any belt is better than no belt, you should be looking to bring the stiffest belt you own. This belt will not only keep your pants up but will also be responsible for keeping your holster and magazine pouches in place during movements you will be undertaking.

The stiffer your belt, the less movement in your holster you will get as we move through drills that include drawing the pistol, or re-holstering. This is vitally important. A loose or flimsy belt will flex and yield during these movements. Either fouling, or slowing your draw stroke. This is all applicable whether you’re carrying OWB (outside the waistband) or IWB (inside the waistband, concealed carry).


Ideally your holster should be fitted to your model gun, whether it be a kydex form fitted holster, or something like the Safariland ALS. These holster are designed to fit your gun, and will retain your pistol far better than any so called “universal holster” that is usually made of flimsy nylon. For a better idea on which holster to choose and what carry position is suitable for you, take a look at our “Choosing the Right Holster” article.

Ear Protection

Allow me to get a little more in depth on this one. While you’ll be served just fine using the tried and true “foamy” ear plugs, you may often times find yourself removing at least one of them, allowing you to hear instruction during class and having to haphazardly put them back in again when the line starts up again.

I’ve found that a huge benefit can be gained in training and your own sanity if you invest in good over-the-ear muffs. Even more so if you decide to get electronic ear protection, that allows you to hear instruction clearly, yet cancels out the noise of gunshots.

Useful tools 

Some other things that you should consider bringing include:

  • Multi-tool: They always come in handy. A good one should include pliers, a knife blade, and a Phillips and Flathead screwdriver.
  • Knee-pads: While we don’t always end up in alternative shooting positions such as kneeling or prone position. If we do, you’ll likely be thankful you brought them along.
  • Cleaning kit: Any time you take your firearm out to the range/shooting, you should bring along a cleaning kit for said firearm. It should include at minimum: cleaner/lube, a brush (old tooth brush works well), chamber brush, and cleaning rods. If your gun fouls up during the day from carbon build up or dirt, this will help you get back up and running.

Now that we’ve talked about some of the gear that will aid you in having a successful DHSB, let’s talk about some of the things on the software side, what you bring to the table.

Open Mind

Some of you will be coming to class with little experience shooting on an outdoor, dynamic and hot range, and that’s totally fine. Others will be coming with a plethora of shooting experience, and that too is awesome. And others will fall somewhere in the middle. The key to learning is coming into the event with an open and eager mind ready to soak up whatever knowledge may be presented to you.

Being open minded can be a challenge, especially if you’re invested in the methods you’re currently using. But as with all things in life we’ve got to be willing to try new things. Much as the world has adopted the internet as a means of communication over the letter. We too should strive to continue to learn and adopt new methodology and training in order to allow us to continue to become more refined shooters, and more responsible gun owners.

Safe Manipulations of your Pistol

In class we’ll go more in depth on how, where and why certain manipulations should be undertaken. Prior to class you can get a one up on your learning by going over some simple ones that you should be familiar with, and eventually instill into yourself as second nature.

These include locking the slide to the rear, ejecting magazines using the magazine release, working the safety if your pistol has one. This can be tricky depending on the size of your hands and the model pistol you intend to use. Finally exercise conscious thought on ensuring your finger is off the trigger, and firmly planted on the slide of your pistol when not shooting. Check out our video guides on basic handgun manipulations that you can practice at home. Training tips – 3 basic handgun manipulations

We look forward to seeing you out on the range. If you have questions about how to prep for this class, whether it be gear related questions or anything else, feel free to message us on Facebook, Instagram or email us directly at info@monarchdefense.org.

About the Author

Aaron Ward was born and raised in Southern California. Spending 11 years in the Marine Corps as an Infantryman, deploying to Iraq, and around the world. He’s been instructing with Monarch Defense since 2018. Follow him on Instagram! @keeper0311