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What Do You Do After You Have Your Concealed Carry Permit?

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Article first appeared at Ammoland.com

Ammoland.com – You already know that we have the human right to defend ourselves.  Let’s say you have met the all the legal requirements to carry a firearm in public. You’ve finally joined the ranks of 13 million other US citizens who carry.  What comes next?  What is morally required of you to be a responsible gun owner now that you have your permit?  Since concealed carry is a right, I’m not advocating stricter legal requirements.  I’m asking you to think about the practical responsibility we assume as we carry a gun.

What comes next after you have the government permission slip?

Many states require a simple course in basic firearms safety to receive your license.  That means you were told how to safely handle a gun.. at least once.  I hope you remember those rules.  I want you practice them because firearms handling is a perishable skill rather than an abstract idea.  Being safe with a firearm is a matter of developing and maintaining safe habits.

There are additional skills you should develop that go beyond safe handling of a firearm. That doesn’t mean that you ignore or “outgrow” the safety rules.  It means there are skills you need to effectively defend yourself and those you love.  I’m not saying this as some high speed ninja-competitor, but rather as an old, slow, self-defense dinosaur.  Here are a few of the skills you need, now that you carry concealed.

You need to be able to quickly and safely present your firearm from a concealed holster.  You don’t have to be up to competition standards, but you have to develop your skills so you can smoothly present a firearm without thinking.  You need to present from concealment even if you often carry off-body in a purse or bag.  Presenting from concealment is a very different activity than methodically shooting a gun from a bench at a shooting range.

You need professional training.

Defensive Handgun Class

A professional instructor explains and demonstrates presenting a loaded firearm from concealment.  The instructor watches as you demonstrate the skill.  The instructor gives you feedback before you practice on your own.  Learning is easy IF you are willing to be corrected and learn from your mistakes.  “Presentation” is neither required for most carry licenses, nor should it be.  Then again, that license in your pocket isn’t much good if you can’t safely and quickly present a loaded gun.

Speed or Accuracy, or a Little of Both-
Experience shows that physical attacks happen quickly.  Most of us can shoot quickly or accurately, but not both at the same time.  There are shooting exercises that push us to shoot accurately. Others, train us to shoot fast.  Developing your skills is only part of the purpose of these exercises.  These exercises help you recognize when accuracy is paramount or when speed is most important.  It is your experience that counts.

What is an easy shot for you may require time and concentration for me.

Shooting in Close-Contact and on the Move-
Most self-defense incidents occur at a distance of under three yards and take less than three seconds.  That is far different from the target shooting we’re used to.  We should be moving as we draw.  If the distance is close enough, we should not need to align the sights of our handgun for the first close-in shots.  We didn’t learn about close-contact shooting in our concealed carry classes. But this is the typical situation we’re likely to see in a self-defense situation.

Shoot Under Pressure-
Using lethal force for self-defense will be stressful.  Stress also makes fools of us all.  We can learn to handle measured amounts of stress as we train.  Forget the Hollywood or military idea of training with an instructor yelling at you.  At first the stress may be as simple as shooting while an instructor corrects your performance.  Later, it will involve shooting while you are timed.

Move, Shoot, and Look Around-
Criminals don’t want a fair fight.  They don’t fight one on one.  The average number of attackers is 2.3  That means we have to look for the other guys after we present a firearm.  If you have not done it yet, let me tell you that is hard to take our eyes off a threat.. even if the “threat” is a cardboard target.  That is why we practice moving to a safer position and looking around.  You have to look behind you without waving a gun around.  That is another thing you’ll learn and demonstrate in a class.

Make Simple Compromises and Shoot-
We don’t always get the fight we want, but we have to meet the challenges we’re given.  We have to learn to shoot the gun one handed because we might be holding onto a loved one with our other hand.  We might not have time to put a child into a safe place before we defend them.  Are you effectively disarmed because you picked up a baby?

Normally, we practice shooting while we stand upright, but we’d really rather be crouched behind a concrete column or kneeling behind a planter.  We are likely to be attacked at night so it is important to learn how to hold and use a flashlight while we have a gun in our hand.  The advantage of these defensive positions might be enough to end a fight before it begins, so it is important to learn and practice them.

These are a few of the skills you want to have now that you have a license to carry concealed.  These skills don’t require great athletic strength or speed.  All of them require practice.  Skills like these are easy to learn from a good course.. now that you know they are out there.  One of the best things about a training courses is meeting responsible firearms owners who take training and practice.

Be one of them!



About Rob Morse: Rob writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily and on his SlowFacts blog. He co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. He is also an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.

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