Concealed Carry

After You Get a Concealed Weapons Permit 101

action photo with flames shooting from the muzzle of a handgun

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.

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About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (31)

  1. I live in Ca and although a CCW permit is difficult to obtain, it’s not impossible. I find it depends more on where you live and the sheriff’s attitude about why you need to carry. I live in Riverside county and the sheriff’s department at least will hear your argument. I’ve had my permit almost a year now and I carry everywhere possible and go to the practice range monthly.

  2. I grew up around guns and hunting. My first encounter was when my mother and I got lost and ended up in the wrong side of town just after dark after I had just moved to the big city in Atlanta. Ever after, I knew I needed to at least carry in my vehicle in the event of a breakdown or getting lost somewhere. My first armed encounter was when my very pregnant wife and I left a performance early to get on the road before the masses. A punk kid followed us to the car at distance talking smack. When I got to the car, I simply retrieved my weapon first, then casually assisted my wife into her seat. The punk got the message without my ever having to display the weapon, but we both knew what was up, and he decided to pick on an easier target. Since that time, I have begun carrying concealed every day. I have had a few more incidents where the first response was to get out of dodge; however, had I needed a force multiplier, I had it handy. I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  3. When I decided to learn to use a gun, I got my license and took extra classes to be as informed as possible. I believe in the second amendment but I believe in responsibility. I want to know the gun owner knows the law and abides by it. To me that’s the difference between good citizens and criminals. Thank you for this article it was very insightful.

    1. Sherri

      Thanks so much for your comments. I hope you took something useful away from this feature.


  4. To Tony from California, I’ve been getting many Ca residents coming to Nevada to obtain a non-resident CCW. Granted you can’t use it in the evil empire but the permit is good in most American areas of the country if you travel. You can also obtain training here that would benefit you at home. I hope you consider it.

  5. I am a piano teacher by profession. If you practice the piano once or twice a year, you’re not going to be very good at it. Just because you own a piano doesn’t make you a master. Practice makes perfect. And nobody is ever good enough that more practice won’t make them better. So it is with a gun and shooting skills.

    1. I agree with you but would add one item for clarification. Correct practice make permanent. Someone can practice the wrong things and make them permanent errors as well.

  6. This BS of having to acquire a permit to exercise toy God given and constitutional right to “keep and bear arms” is BOGUS Permitting/licensing is the government taking away our rights and freedoms then selling them back to a “select few!!!!

    The PROBLEM we in America have is APATHY- Apathy gives tacit approval that what the government does is acceptable. And there is no better easier and more efficient way to gain control of the people than appearing to be benevolent.

    People believe the government is benevolent because they ALLOW us to keep (via permitting) a small portion of our liberty never realizing they already have all the permit they need via OUR 2nd Amendment

    1. Absolutley agree ! My concealed carry permit is the second ammedment !!
      My father was First Force Recon Marine in Vietnam. He was point man. He is my hero and greatest man I have ever known and best friend.
      Semper Fi !

    2. I totally agree with what you’re saying but in order to stay out of prison I elect to hold a CCW. Even with the permit, the use of deadly force in defense of you or your family’s safety put you at risk for civil prosecution. I live in an open carry state and I really like a belt holster with a putter shirt versus a IWB. I’m amazed at how people freak out if the get a hint you’re carrying. Your comments are spot on but the country for now is in the fence and hopefully it will change. Snowflakes abound and will call law enforcement at a moments notice, which it’s always nice to say “here’s my permit” and send everyone on their way. Unless it’s Starbucks.

  7. Very good article. I live in Washington State where there are no training or proficiency requirements for a carry permit. Just a clean legal record. I am an NRA pistol instructor and a certified CCW instructor in several states, so I will admit to being biased. But over the years, I have been approached many times by people, all too often women, who want a gun for “self protection” and want some help in the selection process but show no interest at all in actually practicing with the gun, much less learning anything about the legal issues surrounding armed self defense. They really believe that a firearm is a magic wand that can simply be wave at the bad person and they will run away or something. Worse, I have heard them quoting whack-a-doodle concepts they have heard somewhere as supposed “facts” like if there is someone pounding on your door at night, shoot them through the door and then drag the body inside before calling 911. Yeah right. The forensics folks will never notice that, will they? I think national reciprocity is a great idea, but with all due respect for “rights” would not mind it at all if only those permits that have a training and performance qualification component as part of their issuance would qualify for recognition. Just my two cents,

    1. As with any God given right you should not need a permit to exercise that right. As Ted Nugent said ” The second amendment is my concealed carry permit”
      If someone gets a gun it is up to them to use it responsibly not the government deciding who is responsible enough to exercise that right. It is amazing how gangsters and any criminal is always able to get their hands on a gun and conceal it.
      I believe when people get a permit it makes people feel like they are all ready to use and carry a gun, whereas if you could carry one without a permit people would think about skills more and focus on the weapon instead of the stupid permit that makes them feel as if they are gunslingers now !

    2. I’m far from a gunslinger but I learned to shoot when I was 6 years old. I agree that some people look at being able to carry is a license to brandish a firearm in hopes it will scare off a potential threat only to find themselves in a “oh go ahead, shoot me scenario”. Then what? I only practice draw and fire drills. If I am in a situation I will assess and decide if I should act on doing that within seconds of deploying my firearm. If I elect to do so I can put two rounds on target in just a little more than a second. Everyone should practice to be able to react quickly, safely and effectively. We can put our chests out and say the second amendment is my right, and I agree, it is, but so is following the laws of our country even if we disagree with them. Criminals will never comply so why even bring them into the mix. Arm yourself legally against their threat.

    3. I agree that the WISE and right thing to do is submit to the states laws however unlawful they are. I am happy you Rick understand the second amendment properly unlike many gun owners, law enforcement and NRA pistol instructors here on this blog.

      But did you read what Sergi Kent said right above. Sergi Kent said he is a NRA pistol instructor and a certified CCW instructor in several states.

      Now listen to what he says: “I think national reciprocity is a great idea, but with all due respect for “rights” would not mind it at all if only those permits that have a training and performance qualification component as part of their issuance would qualify for recognition.”

      Sergi believes in further restricting firearms and using more “gun control” laws to keep people from carrying weapons, and Sergi here is a NRA pistol instructor and a certified CCW instructor in several states. God help us !

      Sergi frankly does not deserve to be called an American with that type of view on the second amendment.
      I am not sticking out my chest about out God given rights it is a real problem even among gun owners as you can see. They think that a registration and background check and permits are all responsible things and agree with them.
      We must push back against further “gun control”, just as we would do with further speech control or suppression of our first amendment. I bring up this issue to make it clear that these permits are unconstitutional so the next generation understand that this is NOT normal or constitutional.

      Thank you for your input, Mike.

  8. Having grown up around and shooting guns my whole life I was shocked at my last CCW Class. 40 participants… 4 of us had shot a gun before! These people were taking the class and had never fired a weapon.The range time made it clear, if your going to carry, PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!

  9. 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.

    1. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

    1. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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… least…..have licensure to be carrying, in the first place.

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