Concealed Carry

Training Versus Reality—How Does Your Training Rate?

Mike Seekander teaches a student the right way to improve shooting skills.

I know the Shooter’s Log has many readers that carry. Perhaps it is because your state allows open or constitutional carry or maybe you have taken the time to enroll in a class, pass a test and then apply for a license. Others served in the military and received firearms training—perhaps combat experience. Then, of course, we have our law enforcement officers who have their training and life experiences due to their position.

Mike Seekander teaches a student the right way to improve shooting skills.
Those who care about the outcome of a violent encounter must invest as much time and resources in a continual cycle of training, practice, and learning.

Perhaps you have taken an NRA course or two. Did you go all out and sign up for a course at a dedicated training facility? All of these things are great. From a basic course to gain your concealed carry permit to the most advanced course, but then what? Is that enough? Do you need more training? The answer is, “It is never enough.” We constantly strive to better certain skills and maintain others. Those who care about the outcome of a violent encounter must invest as much time and resources in a continual cycle of training, practice, and learning.


Selecting a defensive handgun will be your first chore. Perhaps you will select more than one. Some people prefer a full-sized handgun in the winter when wearing heavier cover garments and then switch to a compact during warmer seasons. This may be a good strategy, but it also takes more practice.

After you have determined which handgun, you have to get the right holster as well. Will you choose a holster for inside the waistband or out? What about off-body carry? How well will you be able to access your firearm in a carjacking scenario? What if your strong hand is injured? Can you manipulate the safety, slide stop, or magazine release with your weak hand? How did you select your ammo? Did you do some research? Have you decided that it fires from your handgun reliably so it must be good enough? Did you consider scenarios such as pass through or the possibility of follow-up shots? Are you carrying too much gun based on ammo performance? What if a handgun is not the right tool for the job? How are you at close quarters hand-to-hand to defang an ornery drunk? Do you have any other tools such as pepper spray or a stun gun?

Woman shooting a semi-automatic pistol at the range
In a defensive situation, you will have to rely on your subconscious mind to control your actions. Practice is the key to training your subconscious.


Beyond the time we spend on static targets and dry fire practice, we need a dose of reality. That means using your defensive firearm in a way that will mimic real life situation to the extent that is reasonable. That means training in such a way as to recognize when to deploy your firearm and when you run the risk of doing more good than harm.

Imagine you are on a school campus and there is a report of an active shooter. If you are not within eyesight, do you go “hunting?” Crossing the campus, with or without your defensive firearm employed could make you a target for the bad guy. It could also make you the focus of law enforcement, draining precious resources and allowing the bad guy more time to commit evil acts.

Pepper spraying a soldier
Many can rely on the experiences of military service or professional training, but how fresh are those experiences?

Physical and Mental

Those who have experienced combat know the intensity felt during a confrontation. Your heart beats, you become hyper focused, and the adrenaline flows. By instinct, you may clear your mind and focus only on the threat; you may freeze. There is never a guarantee. However, adding stress elements to your training should be an essential element.

After the Confrontation

Most of you have likely thought about everything mentioned up until this point. What are you going to do if you are injured, perhaps alone? What if one of your loved ones was injured? Are you prepared? Do you have a trauma kit and know how to use it? What about a throw kit—a small medical kit to toss to another person nearby to work on a second victim.

Will you rely on your cell phone to contact law enforcement or emergency services? Do you travel outside of normal cell coverage? What will you do in a mass casualty or natural disaster situation to get help when resources are stretched and the lines to 911 are jammed? What about when the police arrive? Let’s say you have secured the shooter and are the hero of the day. How will you identify yourself when the police are looking for one or more shooters? Perhaps you were the victim and forced to defend yourself. Will you talk to the police? How much should you say? You’ll need to answer all of these questions and plenty more. We have not even touched on any of the self-defense insurance policies to cover you legal costs after the fight.

Your training should be continual. How much is enough? Is your training realistic enough to handle a real-life situation? Only time will tell, but at least now you are thinking and going through a thorough self-evaluation. In the end, only you can answer these questions as they apply to you.

What other questions would you ask? What types of training have you attended? How do you make your training more realistic?

It is easy to carry a handgun and feel you are prepared, but what is the reality of that solution? Share your suggestions or experiences in the comment section.


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 (23)

  1. I advise everyone who has ever asked “if” they should carry a gun NOT to do so. It’s a bias of mine, but if you are unsure, you are not ready. In addition, so many CC permit holders almost never train. They shoot occasionally at the range, but they don’t train. They don’t consider ethical concepts of when to shoot vs when not to shoot and they don’t hone reaction speed and targeting.

  2. As in all things, training is relative. All the training in the world doesn’t prepare you for real world situations, such as being confronted by a goblin willing to take your life over a piece or personal property, or money,or person willing to die just to kill you over ideology, but then again it doesn’t hurt, either. A platoon sgt. once told me, that you don’t know what you will do when ‘push-comes-to-shove’. Until confronted by a life or death situation, you reaction is pure speculation. Just remember, it will be your life, or the life of a friend, or family member against that of some worthless piece of crap that wants you dead. So, again, as my platoon sgt. so ineloquently put it, ‘Unless you can kill without hesitation or remorse, you’ve got no business carrying a weapon.’

  3. I had an incident 6 mo ago where I had to use my handgun for the protection of my wife and myself. I have been shooting USPSA for 5 years and the training under pressure ( the timer ) was what was able to let me use my training to my advantage. I was able to bring up my gun, aim and fire without having to think about it. When people ask me now if they should get a gun, I tell them that just having a gun is not enough. They must train with good instructors under stressful situations and there is no such thing as too much.

  4. Its just really sad that so much of the “training” out there is just overly complicated and unnecessary nonsense, and really just a lame excuse to get people to spend their money on training courses – charlatans and frauds like Jeff Cooper!

  5. You can always learn more, as long as it’s good training. That’s one thing that is in short supply where I’m located. There are lots of “trainers” that I won’t waste my time and money with.

  6. I have found that “force on force” training with airsoft “guns” to be perhaps the best type of training available for those who have a decent understanding of how to operate a handgun. It is an invaluable next step for anyone truly wanting to train in the defensive use of a firearm.

  7. “Run the risk of doing more good than harm”? So I might accidentally HELP someone? What a horrible responsibility!
    Your proofreader has not earned his Christmas bonus. 🙂

  8. Dave’s article touches the right bases, but in the equipment area, I would reverse the order he describes. Like most people, he jumps right into firearm selection, then talks about finding ammo appropriate for that gun.

    Instead, I advise shooters serious about self-defense to work the problem backward, starting with the cartridge (caliber, load, and bullet weight/type) since that’s the part the does the real work in defending your life. What follows is a process of successive approximation. You may not be able to shoot your “ideal” cartridge accurately and reliably, so you’ll begin trading off various loads with different delivery systems (the gun), which includes its size, capacity, concealability, and so on.

    Some experimentation will eventually narrow the field to a make, model, caliber, and cartridge that is close to optimum for what a particular shooter (especially a novice) needs, wants, and can handle.

  9. Great article, many great points. When I carry my 1911, it is Condition 1. Ready to rock n roll, no worry about fumbling with a safety, or such. My much smaller revolver, that I carry when I feel that my larger pistol is just too much, and 1911 are carried where I can access them with either hand.
    The article is too, filled with many ‘what-ifs’, that must be considered for proper preparedness. As former Army, former LEO and security, I prepare my self mentally, every time I step outside my door carrying a weapon. Am I ready to take a human life? If you’re not prepared to do this, you need to train more, or entirely reexamine the issue of carrying a weapon.

  10. Number 1, the same handgun all year round. I carry my G21 unless the situation simply will not permit it, in which case i carry ,my regular BUG, a PF9.

    Number 2, lots of practice. Range time is a small part of that. Airsoft one-on-one, an air-gun range in out basement, USPSA matches, and whatever training we can get.

    Number 3, stay fit. Regular workouts. Weights, cardio, heavy bag, sparring.

    Number 4, the right mindset, and support from 2A friendly legal services. We plan ahead what to say . . or not to say to LEOs after a defensive incident.

    It’s a complete package.

    1. Mikial,

      I agree for the most part.

      1.) for me it’s G19 or 26. I really can’t tell much difference in working with the 2, except # of rounds. At work, I’m not allowed to carry, so it’s an lcp in my front pocket.

      2.) I should my an airsoft or maybe a laser trainer.

      3.) I really let the years slip up on me, and right now I’m working hard to play catch-up.

      4.) got a defense attorney on retainer, and a liability ins. policy in force.

    2. What legal defense products are you currently using? In the position to re-eval our past choices and looking for what folks are using and LIKE
      Dr D

    1. Probably more than with a 10 round mag. Think of the damage you could do with 100 rounds.

  11. The writer said it right: you can’t get too much training. We’re lucky in that we have an instructor at our local club that sets up defensive pistol matches where the scenarios mimic real life situations, including active shooter scenarios where you walk into an area not knowing what to expect. This sort of thing has helped me immensely. Still I feel like I need more…

    1. Thanks Jim for instilling some trust and faith of good sense and responsibility for carrying a firearm. Extend my kidos to your instructor. I was getting real worried after reading all the wanna be John Wayne comments.

    2. You said it – this type of article always brings out the internet blowhards and braggarts (probably mostly liars). Enough to make you puke.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.