Unfortunately, an often overlooked aspect of carrying a concealed firearm is being prepared to use it. Something that doesn’t come with your permit is being ready for the split-second decision you’ll need to make and the ability to quickly draw the weapon from under your clothing. Self defense is stressful, especially if you’re not ready. With proper training you can effectively prepare yourself and even your family for the worst case scenario in which you’ll need to use your concealed carry firearm. Here are some things to consider after you obtain your concealed carry permit to prepare you for responsible and competent concealed carry.
Become Comfortable with your Firearm
It should go without saying that you need to be comfortable with your concealed carry firearm. When choosing a firearm to carry daily, you should think about where you will holster the weapon and how it will become a silent companion to your wardrobe. You need to be comfortable with how the firearm feels on your body and in your hand. Most importantly, you need to be comfortable firing this weapon. Heading to the range at least once a week to target practice is a must. If you wish to be a competent marksman, you must train extensively.
Training For Concealed Carry Competency
If you find yourself in a self defense situation where you need to draw your weapon, the only thing you’ll be able to rely on is your training. It’s not only the training to pull the trigger, but training to draw your weapon, developing situational awareness, and keeping your cool in a disruptive environment. You need your decision making and reflexes to be automatic, and the way to prepare for these disruptive situations is to practice, practice, practice.
Start with the basics and look for concealed carry courses at your local gun range. While you’ll be shooting at static targets, one-on-one time with an experienced instructor will help you capitalize on your time at the range. Concealed carry instructors are able to teach you nuanced details about keeping your cool and preparing mentally for a self-defense situation. Brushing up your skills with a professional is a great way to stay on top of your game.
When you’re ready for real-world force on force training, look for a range in your area that offers a simunition program. These courses are offered at select ranges and facilities across the US. They are designed to prepare students for realistic self-defense situations with non-lethal firearms that replicate the function and feel of commonly carried firearms. By participating in these types of courses you can see how your training has paid off and practice weapons manipulation, situational awareness, positive target identification, and proper mindset in an environment that simulates those “what if” life & death situations.
Tenants of Competent Concealed Carry
Weapons manipulation is the ability to draw and master your weapon. In a self-defense situation you need to be an expert in removing your firearm from its holster with first shot accuracy and efficiency. There are a few great ways that you can get this practice in. Hours logged at the rage will translate to real-time preparedness. Obviously, shooting your firearm will help you get acquainted with this life-saving tool. Become familiar with the mechanics of your firearm, the instinctive knowhow needed to manipulate the controls safely, trigger discipline, and potential malfunction clearing techniques. Over time, this motion will become second nature. You’ll also want to become better prepared at knowing how to quickly and smoothly draw your pistol. Improve your muscle memory and fluidity by applying stress. Take a buddy to the range and compete with each other, or if you have to train alone, use a timer to increase stress. The goal is to safely decrease your draw time and increase your 1st shot accuracy. Push yourself to failure points along the way, focus on how to improve and repeat the process. Filming yourself is an excellent way to see how to correct those failure points. Start slow and increase speed as you go. Again, the goal is to improve efficiency of time, motion and accuracy.
Make sure that you do this with every firearm you intend to conceal carry. You will want to be an expert for every firearm, every holster, and every style of clothing in your day-to-day life. Drawing from your favorite pair of jeans and t-shirt is much different than drawing from under a bulky winter coat. Be comfortable drawing regardless of what you’re wearing and concealing.
It’s important that you train your mindset to match your motor skills. You can never imagine the stress you’ll encounter in a life-or-death situation until it happens. You need your draw and fire sequence to be second nature, which is why we train regularly. But to develop a prepared mindset, you need to heavily focus on situational awareness and become an expert on positive target identification in this increasing world of distractions. Once you get a handle on these two items you’ll be able to competently bear the responsibility of carrying a concealed firearm. Be the good guy… do not be a liability. Knowing when to, and when not to introduce a deadly weapon to a situation are the most important skills to master. Simply avoiding confrontation is the priority and the ultimate life saver.
ProTip: Everytime you get ready to leave the house, consider your attire and where your concealed pistol is holstered. Before you even load your gun, safely practice a sequence of draws and dry fires. This will physically remind you what firearm you’re carrying that day so you’re not fumbling with a grip safety that doesn’t exist for instance. This is a recommended practice whether you’ve been carrying the same pistol 20 years or 20 minutes. Muscle memory matters and could potentially be the difference between life and death.
Situational awareness is being aware of your surroundings and having the right mindset to react appropriately when a threat is detected. Training yourself to become more situationally aware is a practice in focus. Start noticing the people around you, what are they doing, who doesn’t fit in? Take stock of your environment, do you have an exit? Are you or your family in a vulnerable position? Take notice of every moment of which you find yourself and mentally prepare. Similar to muscle memory with firearm manipulation, this practice will become second nature. You’ll conduct yourself in public with confidence in understanding what is happening in any given situation, and be aware of how to appropriately react in a self-defense situation. Remember the key is confidence… not paranoia.
Situational Training/Improving Survivability
While you cannot control every situation, there are a few familiar environments you can prepare for: your home, your place of work, and your vehicle. During a home invasion, the threat is on your turf. By running drills in your home you can prepare to defend yourself and family by determining a plan of action. Clear your firearm of all ammunition for safety, and run through different scenarios. Make sure that you’re aware of every entrance, every blind spot, and every creaky step. Use a timer to apply pressure, and improve the time it takes to locate and draw your firearm to clear every point of entry in your home. Use your knowledge of your house and the time it takes you to prepare to create a home invasion drill for your family. While you should practice draw your firearm in your home frequently to stay sharp, running home invasion drills with your family monthly will ensure that they’re also ready if they ever need to be.
Similarly, training in and around your vehicle can prepare you for another critical situation. In a vehicle, situational awareness is key. You need to be comfortable unbuckling your seatbelt, drawing your concealed weapon, and exiting your vehicle to either take cover or confront life-threatening hostility. The time it takes to unbuckle a seatbelt and unholster cannot be underestimated. If privacy allows it, practice this sequence with your unloaded firearm or training pistol. If you do not have the ability to practice with your unloaded carry gun or a training pistol (please don’t freak out your neighbors), simply running these drills without a firearm will help you prepare your mindset and fine tune your vehicle defense motor skills. If you are a parent, it’s important to explain these drills to your children and ensure that they can spring into action and seek safety in a threatening situation.
Positive Target Identification
Assessing the threat is a major part of being a responsible concealed firearm carrier. These weapons are for self defense and should only be used if your life is in immediate danger. The best course of action is to de escalate and avoid life-threatening situations, unfortunately that isn’t always possible. By honing in on your situational awareness, you will be able to positively identify threats and act accordingly. You do not want to be in a situation where you’re unaware of what is going on and draw your pistol on someone who is not a threat. Life threatening, chaos happens frequently. By training your mind and body to know when to draw and/or fire your concealed carry pistol, you’ll be able to control your stress and positively ID a threat.
Pro Tip: Light up your Pistol
A flashlight, whether weapon-mounted or stored nearby your concealed carry firearms, is a tool that can confirm threat identification and enhance your ability to defend yourself. Home invasions typically happen at night. Sadly, too many headlines detail unfortunate casualties of innocent bystanders because of a failure to properly ID the situation. By mounting a quality light to your pistol or keeping one nearby, you can possibly avoid using deadly force altogether. Lights also serve as an effective way to disorient a home intruder. Our KelTec flashlights are 420 lumens, durable, and the perfect accessory for your home defense arsenal.
Training to competently carry and use a concealed weapon is something you should be conscious of and practice every day. Having a defensive firearm is a right. It’s extremely important that you prepare yourself for this responsibility by familiarizing yourself with your firearm and getting your mind right. By training your body and mind to be ready for the worst, you’ll be better able to protect yourself and your family should you need to use deadly force. It’s not enough to have the permit, you need to have the wherewithal to effectively use your weapon in a life-or-death situation. Keep training, keep pushing yourself, and never stop preparing to defend your life.