One thing a lot of people are missing, especially if they are new to concealed carry, is a training plan. Nothing wrong with being a noob, that is where we all started. But like any new endeavor you start, it is easy to get wrapped up in hype and B.S. if you don’t know what you are doing yet.
I am going to go ahead and encourage you to not click on any banner ad that references “quick and easy” or “secret skills of SOCOM ninjas.” Learning to be competent with a gun isn’t rocket science, but it is going to require some hard work on your part. And there are no shortcuts. (If it was easy, Progressives would do it.) You either put in the hours, or you never get any better. Just owning a gun for a long time or carrying a gun for a long time also doesn’t mean someone knows what they are doing.
Let us not forget, it wasn’t that many years ago CNN was voicing its opinion that we were going to get massacred invading Afghanistan. The Taliban had been fighting for 30 years, what was a bunch of 19-year-old infantrymen going to do to them? Turns out, curb stomp them. Because our 19 year olds were trained professionals, not a bunch of goat humpers that had mastered spray and pray when not molesting the tea boy. I digress.
Check out all the episodes in this series:
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 1 Stop The Nonsense!
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 2 Revolver or Pistol for CCW?
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 3 Fighting with Edged Weapons
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 4 Lights and Lasers!
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 5 Holster Selection & Where to Carry
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 6 Red Dots vs Iron Sights
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 7 Truck Guns
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 8 Training Program
- 9 Critical Concealed Carry Lessons: Ep. 9 Ammo Selection
The most important thing you need to learn about concealed carry is when to pull your gun out. That is well beyond the scope of an article or a video. The next most important thing to learn is how to draw said gun. There are many methods and tricks to this, and you will need to experiment to get your stroke down.
What you are looking for is something that assures a positive grip on the gun, with minimal chance of binding it in your own clothes. I don’t change how I dress when I carry and I recommend you don’t either. We must learn to carry comfortably in our natural state, and for me that is a t-shirt, shorts or jeans, with an inside-the-waistband setup.
Once you’ve decided on where to carry and how you are going to draw, you need to practice! You are going to want at least 500 draws on an empty gun before you try to play Wyatt Earp. Rookie mistakes are too costly to do it any other way. That is 500 draws — without any problems! Zero times of hearing the firing pin fall when it isn’t pointed at the target. Trust me, it beats a .45 ACP in your foot.
When I am training for concealed carry, I like to start all of my range sessions with drawing from concealment. If you are learning, this might be all you do during your first couple times at the range (if you opt not to practice at home). The draw stroke is more important with concealed carry than with any other method of carrying. You can survive competition with a sloppy draw, for example. It’s not hard to learn from a thigh rig.
From under your shirt, on target, finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire, with a solid grip is asking a lot. I have been doing this a while, so I might do 10-20 draw and shoot drills in a session. Some of that will be multiple round engagements to keep myself honest with respect to the grip. It is easy to shoot one decent shot with a sloppy grip. Two, not so much.
The next two skill builders are equally important. “Speed is fine, accuracy is final” makes a neat sticker, or sounds witty to new guys, but doesn’t reflect the reality of combat. There are plenty of times mediocre hits right now beat the pants off of solid kill zone shots a half a second from now. Anyone that has ever been in an ambush can relate. The truth is you need speed, and you need accuracy. To start with, however, you are probably going to need to work on one at a time. Just don’t neglect the other.
For accuracy, I really like to work on bullseyes and dots. For an assault on your own morale, there is nothing better than a 25-meter bullseye. They aren’t fun, but they are necessary. At an accuracy session, I recommend keeping score right after your draw drills. Then I like 3-inch dots at 3-, 5-, and 7-meters. Moving back and forth from big targets to little will do a lot for your accuracy.
For speed, as a beginner, I recommend full-sized silhouette targets. If you have such a facility that can accommodate this, set up three targets at 3 meters and engage them as fast as you can. Then go so fast you are sure you will miss. And then go so fast you do miss. The only way to find your actual top gear is to shoot so fast you go beyond it.
Many people will think this a waste of ammo, it’s not. As Kyle Lamb says, “Train until the wheels fall off.” Most people are much faster than they think, and it is eye opening. You should always be looking to find your top gear, where you can reliably get all your hits. The only way to find that is to push past it and improve.
Finally, you need to train under pressure. Nothing in the world simulates combat stress. Not flash bangs, sirens, and fire around you. Nothing. But in my experience, the next best thing is competition. It doesn’t matter if it is IDPA, 3 Gun, USPSA, or GSSF. People put so much stress on themselves to perform in front of peers, it’s unreal. And it is a great training aid. Not only will you see some great shooters with great technique if you go out, you will get inoculated to stress. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday, and if things ever go pear shaped, you will be glad you did.