So you’ve got your concealed carry permit. Now what?

June 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Carry, CCW, Mindset, Practice, Self Defense, Training

So, you’ve got your CCW. Now what?

Years ago, when I took my CCW class, our instructor had us look at the student on either side of us. 

“Look right, then look left. On average, only one of you is going to take the necessary steps to protect yourself. This class is not enough to stay safe, and only about one-third of you will actually learn how to defend yourself with a gun.”

I knew I’d be in that third, because I was taking the necessary steps to protect myself long before I took that class. Such as…

  1. Paying attention to what you’re paying attention to.
    AKA Observational skills. The best fight is the one that didn’t happen because you were aware of your environment and didn’t look like a victim. Learn how to use the Cooper Color Code or something similar so you’re aware of your surroundings and what’s around you, doubly so if you are carrying. And make sure you have more than just a gun with you to deal with the other emergencies in life.
  2. Finding training.
    A CCW class is a licensing class: It is not a training class. Learn how you react in stress situations, and take classes to help you manage and direct your stress. I recommend something like the Fundamentals of Combat Focus Shooting class as quick way to help learn what to do when you’re caught in a bad situation.
  3. Training like you (might) fight, fight like you train.
    Practice with your firearm. Learn some good dry-fire drills and practice them regularly. Get a good holster for your gun. Go to the range as often as you can, and most importantly, practice shooting the gun in stress conditions. Learning how to shoot a perfect one-hole group in 20 minutes won’t do you much good if you have to draw, aim and shoot in only a couple of seconds. If you want to get a good idea of what stress shooting feels like, I recommend shooting an IDPA or IPSC match at least once (and you’ll probably want to do it more after you try it). No, it’s not “combat” training, but it does teach you how you react to complex situations with a pistol in your hand. 
  4. Relax. Be safe. Have fun.
    Deciding to get a concealed carry permit is a decision most people will never make and are probably incapable of making. You’ve decided that your safety is in your hands and not in the government’s, and that’s a good thing. 

How to Carry Concealed

February 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Carry, CCW, Clothing, Mindset, Practice, Self Defense

Or, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Concealed Carry, For People Who Aren’t Complete Idiots


You’ve decided you want to take responsibility for your personal safety and carry a firearm with you on a regular basis. This is one of the most adult decisions you can make, because you’ve realized that there WILL NOT be a cop around when you need one. In fact, criminals are really, really good at making sure there’s no cops around when their potential victims need one: That’s why they’re called “criminals” and not “felons”. 

I digress.

This isn’t going to be a post about equipment or training, it’s about getting yourself ready to carry a gun wherever and whenever it’s permitted. I’m going to assume you’re one of thousands and thousands of people out there who own a gun and have recently acquired a concealed carry permit, but you’re not sure if you want to carry your gun all the time. 

Which you do. We’ll get to why you want to do that in a minute. Let’s start off with the how. And please realize that I’m not a lawyer or someone in who’s served in the military or police. What I am, however, is a person who’s gone down the road you’re about to travel.

If you don’t have a holster for your gun, buy one. 

Many a pixel has been plotted over which kind of holster works best, but for starters, I’d suggest an Outside The Waistband (OWB) holster from a “name brand” manufacturer like Galco, Bianchi, Comp-Tac or Blade-Tech. And wear something to cover it, like an unbuttoned shirt or light jacket.

Plan on buying another after that one, because holsters are kinda like music: What works for me probably won’t work for you, and I change what I listen to depending on my surroundings and who I’m with. Same thing with how I carry a gun: I change what I carry and how I carry it depending on the circumstances I’m in. In general, though, I listen to 80’s alternative and carry inside the waist (IWB) on my right hip. I carry there consistently because I don’t want to have to think about where my gun is if I need it, and I’ve learned through buying a bunch of holsters that IWB carry is what I like best. 

Holsters aren’t an option. You want a holster because it’s just about the only way to carry a gun safely: Not only is sticking a gun into your waistband unsafe for others, you can also lose some things that are very dear to you if an accident occurs. As added bonus, having a holster for your gun is one way cops know you’re on their side if they have to stop and frisk you

Don’t carry just your gun. 

How will you call the cops if don’t have your phone? How will know if what you’re facing is a mugger or grandma on a dark night if you don’t have flashlight? There’s four things you need to carry with you besides your gun and holster and I’ve listed them over here

Learn the laws of your state first. 

It’s up to you to know the circumstances and consequences of carrying a concealed weapon in your state. Can you carry in schools? Churches? What happens if you walk into a business with a “No Guns Allowed” sign? Is there such a thing as businesses that can ban guns in your state? Can you carry a gun into a nuclear power station or military base? (Short answer: No you don’t, that’s a VERY bad idea.). 

Alan Korwin is a leading author on gun laws, and he has several books on the gun laws of America that are “must haves” for anyone who owns a gun, much less wants to carry one with them. 

Also, I recommend getting to know a lawyer in your area who deals with firearms, and signing up for one of the self-defense insurance programs out there BEFORE you need their services. 

Get to know your gun and use it safely.

Chances are, you had to pass a shooting qualification to get your concealed carry permit, but if you can’t remember the last time you practiced, it’s probably time to head to the range. And learn the rules of gun safety as if your life depends on it, because, well, it does. 

Think about what you’re getting, and what you’re giving up.

As my friend Caleb said, carrying a firearm means giving up the luxury to be angry. If you carry a sidearm, you have to consider the results of your actions and reactions a whole lot more carefully than if you don’t. 

What are you getting in return? You’re getting the ability to defend your life and the lives of your loved ones on the worst day of your lives. If being angry means more to you than that, please, for love of God and everyone around you, don’t carry a gun. 

Why carry a gun all the time.

Now we come down to the crux of the matter. The simple fact of the matter is, you don’t get to choose when you’ll need it. If you think you’re going somewhere where you might need a gun, DON”T GO THERE. Cops have SWAT teams to go places where they don’t feel safe, you don’t have that luxury. 

Criminals don’t play by your rules. Once you accept that, and learn to see the world how they might see it, you’ll be safer. We call that sort of thing “situational awareness” and it means the difference between having to use your gun and not having to use it. 

Think of it this way: Have you been in a car accident? Did that accident happen when you expected it? Do you wear a seat belt only when you expect an accident to happen? 

So why carry a gun only when you think there’s danger around? 

How to carry a gun all the time. 

Step One: Carry a gun with you all the time. 

Step Two: There is no Step Two. 

I know that’s kinda silly, but that’s about all there is to it. Start by wearing your gun around the house, and carry it loaded, because an unloaded gun is kinda useless, isn’t it? It’s going to feel a bit weird at first to have a gun hanging off your hip. Relax, you’ll get used to it. Then wear it outside the house on something you do everyday. 

We call it The WalMart Walk, but what it is doing something you’re used to doing in a way you’re not used to doing it. And don’t worry, your gun isn’t showing and no, no one else besides you is freaking out because you’re carrying a gun. In fact, I can predict right now what will happen the first time you walk outside the store with a concealed handgun on you. 

Absolutely nothing at all. So again, relax. 

Just be confident that you are now your own first responder. And stay safe. And have fun.