Most people who apply for a concealed carry permit fail to take into consideration that effective concealed carry is actually a lifestyle change.
Approximately 80 percent of the licensed students I work with report that they usually don’t carry on a daily basis. Most say they carry only in their vehicle or while traveling.
Along with the decision to carry daily come some changes in how you go about day-to-day life. Your attire most likely will need to change. (I recommend concealed carry over open carry.) If you carry off-body in a purse, bag or other off-body manner, this will require some adaptation.
Once you’ve established carry methods, your training should continue. This article will cover some key areas to cover in your concealed carry training.
As always, practice and live by the four critical gun safety rules:
- Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
- Don’t let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on target and you’re ready to shoot.
- Be aware of your target and what’s around it.
With that in mind, let’s examine seven critical skills you need to practice for everyday carry:
1. Getting the handgun into play if needed
Can you draw your handgun from its place of concealment efficiently? For most folks, getting the pistol out of concealment will present its own challenges and must be practiced. It will require more effort than when drawing from a strong-side open carry setup. Also, what about getting the gun back into its hiding place once the incident is over? You will want to establish a good grip while drawing (a fundamental of marksmanship), and your concealment method should help facilitate this. Practice your concealment draw method now, ahead of any stressful incident in the future that you hope never happens.
2. Defensive accuracy
If you must shoot, then hit what you’re shooting at. There is bullseye accuracy and then there is self-defense accuracy. Your goal should be to blend the two…. meaning you want a combination of speed and accuracy. Shooting lightning fast is great — to the extent you can hit the intended target. Shooting well is a perishable skill; you must hone this skill with solid training. Visit Pistol-Training.com for some excellent drills, or spend some lesson time with a qualified trainer.
3. Running the gun
I always have suggested to students that shooting accuracy is only half the battle. Skills such as emergency or speed reloads, malfunction clearances, one-handed shooting with both right and left hands and again drawing the gun from concealment are just some basic skills every armed citizen should develop and feel confident doing. I teach and practice these skills constantly, both for students and myself.
4. Moving to and shooting from cover
A deadly force confrontation happens in seconds. However, the situation may allow you escape and avoidance (which you should do if at all possible), or you could find yourself needing to take cover. Cover is any object that hopefully will stop incoming bullets. If possible, you should add into your training the act of moving to and shooting from cover.
For most people, this will be a different experience that can change how a person grips their handgun and sees their sights. Practice shooting from kneeling, sitting and prone now, instead of always keeping your feet planted in one place and hoping you will never have to move into an uncomfortable shooting position.
5. Dim light shooting
You must be able to identify your threat! There have been far too many tragic cases where a person shoots their own loved one believing they were an intruder. I ALWAYS carry a handheld flashlight and know how to shoot with the light in my support hand. You should have this skill, too. After all, approximately 60 to 70 percent of crime happens in dim light conditions. Depending on the technique used, this may mean firing your pistol one handed … a skill I recommend you train for. A weapon-mounted light system may or may not be appropriate, depending on the risk of flagging innocent people and your carry method.
6. Distance shooting
While most encounters (over 90 percent) occur from about seven yards or less, there could be a situation where a longer shot must be made. With the increase in active shooters, a shot from 12 to 25 yards or farther may be the only option. With a handgun, this can be a challenge for even the seasoned shooter. Train to make center mass shots at least out to 25 yards with your EDC handgun. As with all shooting, your marksmanship fundamentals must be constantly reinforced.
Distance shooting will test these skills.
7. Scenario based or “force decisions” training
Scenario-based training is one of the best techniques you can employ to prepare for an encounter you hope never comes. This type of training should be done in a highly safe and secure manner with qualified trainers, and only with Simunition or airsoft guns. Force decisions (also called reality based training) will challenge you mentally. Your mental prowess is, in my opinion, where the rubber meets the road. You can be the best bullseye shooter in the world, but making decisions under immediate high stress and reacting appropriately is what this type of training is all about. We use this training often. Many students begin to realize where their strengths and weaknesses really are.
A Final Thought
Remember that everywhere you carry, there is now a gun on the scene. Don’t let your gun be used against you. There are many cases of open carry or even concealed carry guns being taken right off the citizen carrying them. Carry discretely and securely.
As a fellow trainer once told me: “Train well and train often.”