To become a better shooter the harsh reality is that you need to put more time and money into training, however with the costs of ammo these days it’s hard to train as much as I’m sure we all would like. Being deliberate about your training is more important than ever right now so it’s a good idea to check over your equipment and ensure it’s not going to cause any issues. My job is that of problem-solving, one of the first ways to problem solve is to eliminate variables. When it comes to shooting I’ve found that the end-user will always be the biggest variable but sometimes a user’s equipment will cause more issues to a user’s performance than we expect. For example, as I’m sure many of you who have taken firearms courses know, you’ll see a wide array of talent and equipment in each course. You can be a skilled shooter with the worst equipment or a novice shooter with the best equipment and you’ll yield different results than the person next to you. Either way, your instructor is going to be observing and looking to help you improve. To make their job easier being able to eliminate the equipment from the variable of problems is a big help. If you’re having issues establishing a good grip from your holster, did you check to see if your belt is secure with your holster in a consistent and efficient location? There are many weak points to equipment and I’ve been fortunate to train under many fantastic instructors and to surround myself with talented shooters. With all this in mind here is a great Christmas list of equipment I use on a daily basis, from hours of dryfire to numerous classes and training in a wide array of environments here’s some equipment I trust to get the job done and let me focus on the training at hand!
AWS Shooters Belt
Starting things off here is a great US-based and operated belt manufacturer known as AWS Inc. there are two options you can choose from that I recommend, if you want to save some money and don’t need molle slots for your pouches go here for their
Lab Shooters Belt System
That first model is what I own and use that’s on the more affordable and customizable side. I didn’t purchase any of the accessories they offer and instead chose to have a slick two-piece belt system with no molle slots. I use strips of double-sided velcro to secure all my pouches to my belt but if you want to use existing molle pouches I recommend their composite belt as it gives you secure mounting locations for molle pouches. The three reasons I believe in their system over others are the belt’s performance when it comes to rigidity, its price, and lastly the overall simplicity. A good belt is one of the most underrated pieces of equipment on the range, it dictates more than you’d think and an overcomplicated system will cause issues with your movement, draws, reloads, and even rifle transitions. These belts start at 65 dollars so they are one of the most affordable solutions out there.
Esstac Mag Carriers
Up next is a brand a lot of shooters have come to know and love, Esstac has become another US brand known for high-quality mag carriers. Their carriers come in a wide array of colors to match your style or requirements. Each mag carrier is constructed of a double layer 1000d Cordura body with a Kydex insert for retention(if too tight you can heat up slightly to fit your magazines). I have been using these carriers for years now and can’t speak highly enough about them. I’ve used them in five feet of snow and -20° temperatures, I’ve achieved sub-second pistol reloads using these magazine carriers, and have never once had an issue after years of use and abuse. I use their double pistol KYWI pouch and 5.56 double KYWI shorty mag carrier on my training belt. The short length for rifle mags allows for a treat beer can grip when reloading and offers just the right amount of retention. These mag carriers are priced just right for their value and start around 17 dollars, the prices increase based on colors/camos and style.
ANR Tactical Belt Mount System
Here we have a super affordable and underrated belt upgrade. This is the ANR design Tactical Belt Mount System. For a long time, I was using the Safariland mid-length drop leg and although I did love that setup I found it had a few shortcomings when it came to getting my holster at a tilt that made sense for the holsters I use. This drop leg system paired with a QLS fork from Safariland has been a great combination for me especially when I want to try out a new handgun and truly test it. Some other subtle benefits are that you can choose between a 1.5” or 1.75” belt loop size to avoid any unnecessary titling when drawing or reholstering. This system is made in the USA just like all these other products and comes in at 16.99. I’ve been using this system for over a year now and it’s held up great. My only recommendation is to take a file to the bottom shape of it and round the overall shape a little more if you do a lot of movement or shoot inside and around vehicles as sometimes the edges can press into your thigh. Overall a great affordable piece of kit I highly recommend.
Mantis Dry Fire System
With ammo costs and availability preventing a lot of us from training a solution I found to help hold yourself accountable but to also give you some data is the Mantis training system. This is a clip on attachment you can put on your handgun or rifle to test your accuracy or more specifically how much movement you produce when breaking your shot. I use this system for myself to check my grip and trigger press but also to help new shooters eliminate variables. When I started shooting a lot of things were self taught with assistance from hours of research. Over time my friends and I were able to take many courses to help progress further but not having a professional to look over our positions or to get any feedback other than seeing I missed was tough. This tool will link up to your phone via bluetooth and a free app from the appstore for either google or android. You can run a variety of drills and see how steady you can be! It’s a great way to challenge yourself and your friends as you can find other friends who train and compare scores and see who’s training more. When I was going to school in Boston I didn’t have access to a range or any of my firearms. Whenever going home to take a class I found that spending 20 minutes using this tool to warm up and get rid of any jitters I’ve had from months of not training this was a great help. I highly recommend this tool for anyone and I recommend checking out the array of options they offer to best fit your needs. Their base model starts at 99.99 and they even have a model that integrates with a dryfire magazine to allow for you to incorporate your holster without removing a light or interfering that also resets the trigger. Don’t stop training because you’re low on ammo, start training smarter and focus on all the movement that you can off the range.
Mantis X2 Shooting Performance System
At the end of the day, you’re going to get out what you put into it. If you want to keep progressing as a shooter you’ve gotta be training one way or another. Dry fire is free, ammo is not. Make sure your equipment fits your needs as a shooter so that you are set up for the most success when training or achieving whatever task is at hand! I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to comment!