Boot Camps: What to bring
By Michael Adam - Master Instructor
Note: As the range owner and main instructor in Davilla, TX, Michael has conducted many Boot Camps and has a great deal of experience in what is needed in a Boot Camp situation.
Rifle - preferably two rifles, with one being a .22. A second rifle will also give you somewhere to go if there are problems with your primary. And bring a small notebook for each rifle you bring that you can use to jot down all the data for that rifle from now on.
Ammunition - you will need 1200-1500 rounds of ammunition. If you bring a .22 bring 1000 rounds for the .22, Then around 500 rounds of ammunition for your centerfire rifle. But you will need approx. 1200-1500 rounds total to shoot the week in whatever caliber you are shooting.
Hearing protection and eye protection - Bring shooting glasses, ear muffs and ear plugs in case you get put on the line next to a high noise rifle.
Tools- At least a minimum set of tools for your rifle including screwdrivers that fit your rifle's screws and cleaning equipment and lubrication.
Shooting mat/Rain gear and rifle cover towel. Have a mat you can lie on and a towel or piece of cloth/waterproof tarp you can use to cover your rifle when it is not being used or it is raining. Also a rain jacket and rain pants since Appleseed and BC instruction and shooting continues despite inclement weather.
Shooting jacket or elbow pads- You will be spending a lot of time in prone and you will need a good jacket with pads, or elbow pads themselves. If you don't do this, bring a lot of bandaids for the large bleeding holes that will soon appear early the first day on your elbows and haunt you through the rest of the Boot Camp.
A hat with a brim since you will spend a good amount of time in the sun and/or rain and you want to keep you head and neck protected.
Sunscreen. You will be out in the sun for days. Even if you think you are used to this, a good 2nd degree sun burn on the first or second day will gladly stay with you the rest of the week. Remember, the whole point of this week is to make you a better shot and train you to become an instructor. Anything that detracts from that is no good. Look at your instructors; you will see the white paste of sunscreen on their necks also. Most of us learned the hard way.
Loose fitting clothes. This means your fat pants, not your Friday night wranglers. You want to be able to get in different positions easily without straining and pinching or tightness. A pair of oversized jeans will work, or some BDUs or sweat pants etc. Same with your shirt. Nice loose fitting comfortable cotton shirt and dress in layers you can shed as the day heats up. Bring enough clothing that you can go the whole eight days if need be, sometimes washing machines for clothes are not a nearby accommodation.
A small personal first aid kit - with Band-Aids, etc.and some aspirin or alieve for aching muscles you have not used.
Food. You will need stuff to eat in whatever amounts you are accustomed to, and make sure you include stuff you can put in your pocket for eating while you are on the line. Snack stuff, peanuts, crackers etc. A light breakfast and lunch with occasional snacks is best as it will help keep your mind and body sharp and keep the blood in your head rather than in your gut. Either bring food that does not need to be cooked (sandwiches, fruit, ready to eat cans etc.), or bring a way to cook your food. Simpler is better as time is not a luxury you will have at a BC. The 30 minutes you need to cook a meal will be better spent sleeping, reviewing instruction or cleaning your rifle.
Water. Make sure and have plenty of water with you at the camp and on the line. A gallon jug is a good amount and you can even freeze this and drink it as it melts, but you will need a minimum of one gallon a day in the shade. You should be drinking constantly on the line, even if you do not feel thirsty. When you start to dehydrate your eyesight is the first thing to go and by the time you feel thirsty, it has already been affected. Keep a bottle of water/Gatorade etc. on the line with you and drink from it constantly.
Camping and sleeping gear. What ever your level of comfort requires. Remember that the weekend is not for you to show how tuff you are as far as roughing it. Make yourself comfortable. You will be working long days and your body will need rest and protection from the elements. Make yourself as comfortable in your camp as you can. A good nights sleep is worth it's weight in gold when the next morning finds you on the line and we are shoving instruction down your throat. Eight hours of good sleep is going to make that instruction go down much easier.
There will be hotels near each Boot Camp that you can use if that is more your style and there is nothing wrong with using them. We happen to think that sharing the evenings in socializing with Riflemen, and sharing the ground at the BC with your mates is a more fulfilling experience, but you are in charge of your sleeping arrangements.
If you are camping I suggest a cot from Wal-Mart or some such store that has a padded mattress and is off the ground. This will help you get the sleep you need and will keep you cooler or warmer depending on the season. Also bring insect spray. The kind you can use on yourself, and the kind you can spray around your tent or camper. If you are in the south, ants will find a way into your tent and your camper. If you are in a camper, spray the wheels or any other ways ants can get in. Electric cords, steps etc. so they can not gain entry to the camper, and in a tent, spray the perimeter so that the ants don't make themselves at home in your tent.
Nothing destroys a night better than a tent full of ants, and it will happen in the South. Try to select a camping site that is not located directly over an ant colony first, and then as soon as the tent is up, spray the perimeter of the tent.
Personal Hygiene items. Once again, we are not on a weekend 'roughing it with the guys' event. It is eight days, so make sure you have a way to keep yourself at minimum hygiene standards. You are usually within one foot of your neighbor on the line so have some pity on him. There will usually be a shower available at most BCs. be sure and use it. If you are at an event where showers are not available, there will be water available for a "bucket bath" and if this is not possible, bring a big box of the "baby wipes" and use them to wash yourself down. Having a hand towel on the line also lets you keep your hands and face dry of sweat or grime.