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  • Rowan

Concealed carry - It's about more than being able to shoot

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

I had a student today who really reminded me that carrying a gun to protect yourself requires much more than simply knowing how to shoot.

This particular student was already fairly proficient at the fundamentals of shooting. She could comfortably and accurately make combat-effective hits on a target within the range that most violent encounters take place. I could have spent our whole session working on recoil control, upping her speed, shooting from cover, or a dozen other different skills, but for students interested in concealed carry I want them to leave their very first session with the most relevant skills they would need if they got into a gunfight on their drive home from the range that day. Very often I find it is not shooting ability that is the biggest hindrance to success.

There is no rule that says you only get into a self-defense scenario after completing X number of classes, or shooting Y number of rounds, or Z number of dryfire sessions. I worked with a deputy who ended up in an officer-involved shooting on his very first week of training. You don't get to dictate when life throws you a curveball.

Man with crow bar
Can you draw before this guy cracks you with a crowbar?

Oftentimes I find equipment and gear issues can pose more of a problem than shooting ability. You can have all the skills in the world but if that gun isn't in your hand, it won't do you any good.

For this particular student, she chose to carry in a sling bag as it was a versatile way she could carry in a variety of situations. Guys have it easy, we are happy to wear pants and a belt with a holster all the time, but women tend to be a bit more limited when it comes to their concealed carry options. Her bag in particular didn't have a specific holster insert for a firearm, so she wisely chose to carry without a round in the chamber.

I would never recommend this in something like a Kydex holster, but, if a gun is going to be sitting in a soft-sided bag or purse with nothing covering the trigger, I think it is the safer option. You are far more likely to accidently shoot yourself than you are to get in an altercation and lose a gunfight by the extra second it took you to rack the slide.

We talked about possibly mounting a hard-sided holster in the bag and started to practice drawing the gun from the bag. Even just doing a few slow speed draws there were some good lessons learned about gear placement, how to efficiently open the bag and get to the gun, and how to avoid flagging yourself when drawing and re-holstering.

There is a very good chance that your reality doesn't match the Navy Seal on Instagram who carries a full-size pistol with a light, red dot, two extra magazines, a first aid kit, and a breaching tool in his sock. For this student, she is often carrying a baby with her left arm. We discussed the tendency for people to hold on to whatever they have in their hands when involved in a shooting. This can often be seen with cops who get into shootings and don't drop their flashlight, ticket book, or radio. Under no stress you absolutely know you'd rather drop your groceries or cell phone to shoot accurately, but in the real world there is a good chance you won't. This is especially true if the thing you are holding is a baby!

Navy Seals
Standard Everyday Carry for a trip to the lake

This obviously presents a problem! Now you have to draw your gun one-handed and if you are carrying without a round in the chamber, you need to rack that slide somehow. We went over a few different ways of doing that, but it was a great reminder to stress test your chosen method of carry. How you carry might not be the same way that other people do. I've never once seen a Green Beret shooting with a baby in one arm.

I believe traditional CCW training is severely lacking, with an overemphasis on actual physical shooting skills. You could be a top-tier competitive shooter with a 2-second Bill drill, a $5500 tricked-out Staccato pistol with all the bells and whistles and all the best tactical accessories, but if you don't correctly identify a threat, orient yourself to it, and make the decision to act...all of that won't do you any good. It also does you no good to be charged with a crime and end up in prison for protecting yourself.

Court Room
Trust want to minimize your time here

To me knowing how to properly defend yourself involves having the mindset, awareness and skills to avoid a situation in the first place, but if you do end up in a shooting, knowing what to do before, during, and after is vital. A shooting isn't like a competition stage where the timer goes beep and then after you're done it is all over. There is a reason I teach how to improve your chances in court after a shooting, how to deal with the 911 operator and responding law enforcement, and how to treat gunshot wounds. These are all parts of a whole that go beyond simply knowing how to put holes in a target.

If you do make the decision to carry a firearm for self-defense, treat that as the deadly serious decision it is. You are committing to potentially taking someone's life, and all the consequences involved in that. It is not a decision that should be made lightly and you should always train accordingly!

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