Follow these practical tips to develop your real-world concealed carry skills
- Concealed carry license training is only the beginning
- Gun handling begins with four golden rules
- Your clothing choices can be critical to successful concealed carry
- All training and practice should be performed slowly at first
There are more concealed carriers than ever in America. Every one of them must understand the laws applying to their status and how to choose a firearm that fits their needs. Any situation where you think you may need to use your gun requires regular training and practice.
Keeping your concealed carry skills sharp is no different. Here’s what to do to make your concealed carry practice confident and effective.
Wasn’t my concealed carry permit training good enough?
You may be asking this after going through the licensing process since it may have involved education and practical firing skills. Think of it like you were a learning driver traveling a preset route: There’s passing your test, which is a good grounding, then there’s being out there on the road.
The live-fire segment of most concealed carry qualifications provides basic firearms training under controlled conditions. Yes, the course primes students for concealed carry, but the actual act of range firing isn’t reflective of the action in the real world where holsters, clothing, and accessories can impede a smooth and fast draw before bringing the gun to bear.
This is where the concealed carry student can become their own instructor through the kind of trial and error that promotes solid gun handling. Here’s how this learning process works.
Core concerns in gun handling
Training to get your weapon out of its holster starts with following the four golden rules:
- Make sure the gun isn’t loaded
- Keep your finger away from the trigger at all times
- Never point it at anything you don’t intend to destroy
- Be aware of what’s behind and beyond your target
Get used to positioning your holster to favor easy removal and replacement using your dominant hand. Ideally, you’ll always be carrying your weapon in the same body position, which allows muscle memory and reflex to develop more quickly. Take a look at your lifestyle and the kind of clothes you like to wear or have to wear from day to day to see if permanent positioning is possible.
Even if it isn’t, your choice of clothing and other wearable items like bags, backpacks, or purses always have to be considered in terms of how they’ll accommodate a holster or potentially impede a quick and efficient draw. Your firearm may also have accessories that will require you to develop a stylized draw.
Never forget that owning a firearm is a lifelong commitment. Gaining your concealed carry license means that, one way or another, you’ll have to factor your firearm into your daily life going forward and make changes accordingly.
4 more steps toward good drawing practice
With the golden rules and clothing concerns addressed, you can start your concealed carry practice in earnest. Follow this advice:
1. Draw slowly and smoothly
Not rushing allows you to notice anything that may be interfering with the process (it also promotes good form). A slow pace also helps develop a strong and comfortable grip; the one factor everything else will rely on. The more you practice, the faster your drawing drills can become.
2. Select different target points
There’s no need to fire when developing your sighting skills. Pick a point and practice bringing your gun to bear on it. Take some time to study what’s around and behind the target, too. This is a critical skill toward situational awareness that can help minimize the fallout from a confrontation.
3. Sweep clear of all body parts
Drawing your gun and putting it back in the holster shouldn’t involve passing the muzzle over any part of your body. Doing so increases the chances of shooting yourself before the target. Remember that your concealed weapon will be loaded when you’re out in the world, so don’t be lax with this step during unloaded practice.
4. Select your concealed carry command
Drawing your gun in a real-world situation can be a sudden and adrenalized experience. It’s hard to think straight under those conditions, so selecting a command word in advance can help you stop potential aggressors in their tracks. Just like fixing an ideal position for your firearm (if that’s possible), picking a command word and sticking to it is a further aid in creating a smooth, automatic drawing process.
Good command words should be strongly worded and said powerfully to make an attacker think twice about continuing their assault. Phrases like “NO! LEAVE ME ALONE!” or “I HAVE A GUN AND I WILL USE IT!” can deter an attacker by making you sound like a harder target and letting them know you carry a deadly weapon. Combined with your concealed carry training, they will also help you snap into a self-defense mindset.
The emphasis in this early-stage training is on a leisurely pace. Don’t be in a hurry to draw and aim too quickly before you’ve developed the skill, and never be in a hurry to holster no matter how competent you become.
Practice drawing your gun based on different body positions
Drawing while standing, sitting, and at the wheel of a vehicle (if you own one) should all be practiced. Select a location in each case where you can practice removing the gun without alarming anyone. Standing provides the simplest drawing practice and gives you time to develop the upright stance you’re most confident with.
Sitting will require more attention to body shape and surrounding objects, such as tables, seat belts, gear sticks, and steering wheels. The carrying position of your weapon will dictate if and in which direction you will have to practice leaning to safely draw it, as well as how the seatbelt and other obstructions will factor in.
Some gun owners may find it best to pull the seat belt up and over the gun rather than risk being disarmed by the force of a retracting belt. Others may find a belt retraction works fine. The point is to develop a second set of drawing and sighting reflexes that differ from your standing draw skills.
Practicing and training become drills if you choose to employ shot timers. These devices will help you gauge your draw speed while optics and sights are a good way to measure your accuracy.
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