After You Get a Concealed Weapons Permit 101

By Bob Campbell published on in Concealed Carry, Gun Gear, Safety and Training

It is encouraging to see so many Americans obtaining their concealed weapon permit. These new shooters are supporters of the Second Amendment and have taken steps to be responsible for their own safety and security. Yet, in many cases, there are people among them that are armed with a deadly weapon but unable to defend themselves well.

There are requirements in place, in most states, that demand a course in legal matters and another in safe gun handling. This is important, but there is only so much to be learned in an eight-hour course. Very often, a lively class with many questions resulted in my eight-hour classes running over to nine or ten hours, and there were a lot of groans. Consider the ramifications a poor decision could make on your life, and you really need a lot of personal study.

action photo with flames shooting from the muzzle of a handgun

Only through at least bi-weekly diligent practice will your shooting skills excel.

The safety part of the class was stressed, and since the National Rifle Association Handgun 101 is the base for this part of the class, it is a very good program. The marksmanship section is also very well done, and the NRA 101 course is excellent. This provides the student pays attention during the class. After successfully passing the course, the individual needs to expand his knowledge base.

I recommend beginners make a trip to the range once a month for a year or so, when beginning their practice with the handgun. Besides building proficiency, this regimen will reveal the deficiencies of an inaccurate, difficult to use, or unreliable handgun. Once the handgunner begins to achieve their initial goals, which is usually relatively speedy center hits at 7 yards, the practice regimen may be curtailed to five or six times a year. This is a realistic minimum for a moderately interested shooter. I realize many readers go to the range with a goal in mind on a weekly basis, and that is wonderful, but many shooters obtain the permit and that is the last time they see the range, which is both sad and potentially dangerous.

When carrying the handgun, a quality holster must be chosen. There are many holsters that are so poor, they allow the handgun to move about when carried, do not offer good retention, and collapse after the handgun is drawn. There are reasonably efficient holsters available from Tagua and Blackhawk!, and first class gear from Galco, and neither will break the bank.

Pistol with a round stovepiped in the chamber

It isn’t difficult to safely set up malfunction drills.

Choose an appropriate holster that offers a good balance of retention and speed. Practice presentation from the holster. Speed comes from smoothness, repetition, and economy of motion. The elbow shoots to the rear, the hand comes from under the handgun, and the pistol is drawn from the holster. This may be practiced with dry fire. Using a triple-checked unloaded handgun, practice the presentation until you have a dozen repetitions done correctly. Advance to drawing from concealed carry, quickly and smoothly. Deficiencies in holsters will become evident as you move through these drills.

There are also drills that build proficiency. Controlling recoil and getting fast hits are important. The Bill Drill, firing six shots as quickly as possible at 7 yards, is one gauge of shooter development. The shooter should also practice gaining distance. Many personal defense situations begin with a short-range assault. The shooter should practice slapping the target and backing away by back pedaling to gain distance.

A strong slap, and then drawing the handgun and firing from the retention position, is known as the Speed Rock. This must be practiced dry fire. Executing such a drill live fire is a professional-level drill that should only be attempted when the shooter knows they are ready. You should also practice clearing malfunctions. Even with the most reliable handguns, a short cycle may be caused by poor ammunition or more likely by limp wristing the handgun and not maintaining a proper foundation for the handgun to cycle.

Demonstration of the draw technique using appendix carry of a firearm

If you use appendix carry, then practice the appendix draw often.

If you have a reliable handgun that has never malfunctioned, all the more reason to practice malfunction drills. Because it has never happened, you’ll be caught flatfooted and less able to respond when the pistol malfunctions. You should also practice firing with one hand and also the non-dominant hand. For many of us, firing with the non-dominant hand is difficult, but there are many reasons to do so. Practice at least every second or third range trip.

As a practical matter, you must consider the many things that might occur when you are called upon to defend yourself. After all, that is the reason you are armed, for the worst-case scenario. You must never draw the handgun if you are not justified. You must have other measures available to counter aggression. The open hand and an impact weapon are among these measures.

The handgun isn’t the answer to every threat. Practice the draw when seated and when at a disadvantage, not simply when standing in the open at the range, which is the least likely position you will be in if called upon to defense yourself. Engage in tactical thinking and give at least some practice time to retention training. Often enough, a personal defense situation may turn into a fight for the handgun. If you draw too soon, or too close, this may well happen to you. We have seen what happens when those without a background in fighting, or the will to fight, go to the gun too early.

Consider the worst-case scenario and train for it. Use service-grade gear and practice often.

What lessons learned can share with new to concealed carry? Share your answers in the comment section.

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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Comments (30)

  • Paul Schexnayder

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    Excellent article. In my opinion as someone with former military LE experience and civilian concealed carry concerns, I agree wholeheartedly that range time in a CC course should be mandatory. IMO an untrained / unpracticed carrier is a danger to themselves as well as those around them. I believe a person should be able to prove proficiency and responsibility, just as they would be required to do in order to obtain a driver’s license.

    Reply

    • Retired Navy Spook

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      Paul,

      I couldn’t agree more on the training aspect, but I read a study a while back, can’t remember the source, but to the effect that not only do concealed carry holders have a lower incidence of crime than the public at large, they have a slightly lower incidence of gun-related crime than law enforcement. That’s astounding and speaks well of those of us who carry.

      Reply

  • Retired Navy Spook

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    I got my first permit in Indiana in 1973, renewable every 4 years, finally switching to a lifetime permit about 10 years ago. Indiana is an open carry state, so my permit says “license to carry handgun.” I bought my first gun when I was 13, and have been around guns all my life. Qualified Expert with both the 1911 and M16 in the navy, but anyone who claims similar familiarity with firearms but doesn’t feel the need to practice is naive at best.

    I have a cousin who is a deputy sheriff who lives about 5 minutes from me and has a range behind his house. Makes practice easy. I carry a Sig P938 in a nylon pocket holster, and one of my favorite drills is to start about 5 feet from a silhouette target, firing the first round from waist level, rapidly moving backward and firing with aim at center mass by the second or third shot, ending with the last shot of two to the head from about 7 yards, not unlike what Bob describes in this article.

    Reply

  • Art

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    I agree with the person stating carting illegal when he had to. Living in California you have to be ready to protect your self at all times, those that say no will be the next victims. I have carried concealed for 17 years protecting my wife and daughters is my highest priority. I sure hope the reciprocity Bill gets worked out, be safe and have a great day.

    Reply

  • Megaman

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    This is a very good reason why we should have mandated military service for 2 years. Kids can leave high school, get trained by the US Military (learning all of these basic tenants), then go to college and choose a career path. We must encourage service in our Children if we are to have a strong society that upholds the values of our community.

    Reply

    • chris

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      Then the values of our country would be at stake. Mandatory military service is never going to be an option in a truly democratic society.

      Reply

    • Jay

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      Did you know 8 out of 10 kids are not qualified to join the Military? Either physical/mental conditions or criminal convictions are the primary reason for disqualification. I agree with some sort of national service, but not everyone is capable of providing our national security.

      Reply

  • Salvatore

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    Good article. Sadly, getting most non-interested shooters to do training beyond taking the course for their CCW permit is almost always an exercise in futility.

    Reply

  • Billy

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    I would also recommend becoming a member of the USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association) for legal representation, education, and training as well as PDN (Personal Defense Network) for education and training.

    Reply

  • dprato

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    When I took my CCW course here in Colorado 11 years ago we had both classroom and range time built into the course and it was excellent. I was surprised to hear that many people can take the CCW course without doing the range time. I think that is a mistake. It would seem to me that all CCW courses should verify both the safe handling and basic shooting competency
    of anyone who is going to handle a firearm. Just one person’s opinion.

    Reply

    • Jack

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      I agree. I live in upstate NY and my ccw course consisted of a retired deputy talking about gun safety only. He did NOT give any information on legal issues and there was no hands on a weapon.

      Reply

  • Robert Ewers

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    I enjoyed the read. Keep it up.

    Reply

  • MasterORTech

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    Biggest thing I learned was to keep your bugger hook off the bang switch as you draw. Most newbies (which included me) forget and curl that finger in. No Bueno.

    Reply

  • Dragon

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    The very term “Permit” in this instance is distasteful. While law abiding folks will likely apply for and be granted such licensure for their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, the fact that we must seek the approval of government to exercise those rights is inconsistent with the rights themselves. As I have often commented before, I have been carrying concealed for more than fifty years. Sometimes it was legal and sometimes it was not. When it was not legal to carry, I ran the risk of being charged with some sort of weapons violation, but the risk was acceptable when compared to the possibilities that might have seen violence visited upon me when unarmed. For more than the past twenty years, my carry in Texas has been under the auspices of a state license that I renew with the idea in mind that should I ever need to bring my concealed pieces into action, I will…..at least…..have licensure to be carrying, in the first place.

    Reply

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