- Shooting Glasses: Many people will have opinions on this and there are so many different shapes to faces and requirements for eyes that every option will likely be a good one as long as you keep a few basic in mind when you are shopping. They must be ANSI rated for shatter resistance as safety glasses. This is really the most important issue as they are the only things standing between you and blindness in the case of a ricochet or accident. We recommend getting glasses that offer good coverage and fit close to the face to provide you will the best coverage. Getting a hot piece of ejected brass caught in your glasses can be easily prevented if your glasses fit you well. We shoot indoors at GPSL so clear lenses are you best choice but many find that smoked, amber, yellow, or red lenses work best for outdoors shooting. Many glasses offer multiple lenses so you have options. A few brands to consider on the high end are Rudy Project, Oakley, and Wiley-X. In the midrange are Sunbuster and Prato to consider. Many find inexpensive safety glasses at a home center like Home Depot or Lowes to work just fine so you absolutely do not need to spend big bucks to protect your eyes.
- Ear Protection: Ear protection is vitally important for us at GPSL since we shoot indoors and the sound is more focused. The three basic designs of protection range from simple foam or silicon plug that are a couple of dollars for a set but are disposable, on to ear muffs using passive sound control, and finally into electronic ear muffs that use electronics to limit the sound volume that reaches your ears. Ear Muffs are most common as they are simple to take on and off during a match and can range from fairly inexpensive passive protection models to electronic muffs that run into the hundreds of dollars. If you are just starting out, then I highly suggest the simple orange or yellow foam disposable plugs you can find at the range or at a home center. They are a bit more of a pain to insert or remove but they are very cheap and they do a good job of protecting your years. Some brands to consider for passive and electronic muffs include Dillon, Pro Ears, and Sordin.
- Belt: Your belt must do a few thing to satisfy the rules of USPSA. It must be worn at the waist and it must be securely affixed typically through at least three belt loops. Beyond those basic requirements you will see two basic styles in use. The first is your typical belt made of leather or reinforced nylon. Your holster and mag pouches are slipped onto this belt and that's pretty much the end of it. This is an inexpensive solution and one typically used by newer shooters. The disadvantages with this solution are the lack of rigidity in the belt giving you a holster that moves when you try and draw your handgun and mag pouches that do the same during reloads. Also, you must reposition your holster and mag pouches every time you shoot so they do not wind up in a consistent position from match to match. Both of these issues are remedied by using a velcro double belt you will see on most every competitor. The inner belt is rather flexible and has the loops side of the velcro facing outwards. This is the belt you thread through you belt loops and uses a small section of hooks side velcro on the inside of one end to stick to itself so it's adjustable for length. The outer belt is made of far more rigid construction and is where you will thread your holster and mag pouches. The inside of this outer belt has the velcro hooks on it so you simply mate the outer belt to the inner belt and you're ready to go. At the end of the match, you simply pull off the outer belt, leaving all your pouches and holster in place and ready for your next match. The outer belt is super rigid and it's connection to the inner belt means it stays where you put it providing a very stable platform for your gun and magazines. If you prefer to use single piece belts, then we highly recommend the Wilderness Instructors belt and for the competition belts, look at CRSpeed and Double Alpha.
- Mag Pouches and Holster: I list these together because they are similar in nature. They are designed to hold your equipment but they can have restrictions due to your chosen Division. Most new shooters start out in Production or Single Stack as these are the stock divisions and require less of an investment in a race rig. Holster and mag pouches for these divisions are almost exclusively available in injection molded plastic or the higher-end specialty plastic called Kydex. The holster must be designed specifically for your gun and provide complete coverage of the trigger guard so that the trigger is inaccessible when the gun is placed within it. Mag pouches simply need to hold the magazines securely and preferably in a "bullets facing forward" manner on your belt. This makes for a smoother reload as you will see when you start practicing. Injection molded plastic pieces are very inexpensive and tend to be rather crude, often times holding the gun very tightly which makes for the gun difficult to draw. Their advantage is they are cheap and simple to find locally. Kydex offers much more of a custom fit as the Kydex can be heat fitted to a handgun for a terrific fit as well as the inherent nature of kydex to hold tight to a gun until it pops free when you draw. Kydex makes for a fast holster and mag pouches for this reason. Injection molded options for these bits of equipment can be had from Uncle Mikes or Bladetech whereas Kydex offerings are available from Bladetech, Ready Tactical, or Kytac to name a few.
- Magazines: Stick with manufacturer's brand magazines to ensure the best reliability with your handgun. There are some exceptions to this rule but you will rarely go wrong by using OEM magazines designed specifically for your handgun. The round limited Divisions (Production, Single Stack, Limited-10) usually require that you have 4-6 magazines available on your person for a longer stage where Limited and Open Division competitors often have from 19 to 29 rounds in a single magazine specifically tuned for their race gun. If you find you have everything to compete as a Production or Limited-10 shooter but are lacking enough magazines consider loading your magazines to their full capacity and shooting in Limited Division instead. You will be competing against very high dollar rigs in this race division but the important thing to start out is to get shooting so you see if the sport is right for you and to see what you like and want to do.
- Ammunition: Finally we come to ammunition. The key here is reliability. The round must run reliably in your handgun first and foremost. Saving a few dollars a box on ammo that doesn't run is just frustrating. Consistently we have seen excellent results from Winchester "White Box" 100 round count boxes you can often find at Walmart. Another excellent choice is the Blue Box Atlanta Arms ammo that is sold at the range as range ammo. The Atlanta Arms blue box is a reloaded round made locally and is known for its reliability and accuracy. We typically never need more than 100 rounds on a single match night, but often times we will use more than 50 rounds. So grab a White Box or a couple of Blue Boxes and get started.