I have always felt carrying a concealed handgun (CCW) to be both a right and a responsibility. The vast majority of citizens I’ve talked to have felt the same way. Carrying a lethal weapon for the defense of life is accompanied (to most) by the weight of the knowledge that the carrier may be called on to intervene in a deadly situation. Failure in that event is simply unacceptable and to mitigate that chance, we should always endeavor to keep our skills honed. Having revised my concealed carry setup a number of times in the last few years, I’ve compiled a list of tips to consider as you prepare your body and mind for the possibility of a deadly encounter.
- Question everything. Are you using the gun that provides you with the best balance of accuracy, firepower and concealment? Is your holster adequate? Does it have any locking or retention features? Is your gun both adequately concealed and ready to present in short order? Are you packing quality defensive ammo or range box leftovers? Having an inefficient setup is better than none, but always keep in mind the rule of “good-better-best”. Moving from a basic leather holster to a Safariland 537 with middle finger lock has increased my retention security.
- Verify your setup in training. Ensure your draw is clean and a spare magazine is accessible. Train using the same clothes and jacket you’re carrying with. Have you practiced shooting in a low light setup with a flashlight? The first time you’re forced into a real world situation shouldn’t be the first time you’ve drawn a handgun in a similar scenario. Neither my Glock 17 or my Remington R1 are optimal for CCW, but they’re what I have for now. With proper consideration to clothing, both can be carried concealed.
- Dry fire and reload. This is the single best way to improve your draw speed and weapon manipulation skills (unless you have an ammo sponsorship). Start in slow motion and make sure your form is solid. Speed up little-by-little until you’re at the ragged edge between speed and comfort. Practice reloads without looking down at your “workspace”. You should be comfortable enough with your gun to feed it blindfolded.
- Use alternate training techniques. Besides your standard draw and shoot, try drawing when the tango is within arms length. Try drawing when you’re on your ass. Simulate a “gun-grab” attempt where someone manages to spot you “printing” and tries to forcibly remove your possession. A rubber “trainer gun” in your make and model is useful here as you can practice with a partner for more dynamic training.
- Consider the situations in which you wouldn’t shoot. The rule is, never draw your gun unless you’re ready to use it. In the 1-2 seconds is takes to draw, what will you do if the assailant turns and runs? What if he/she drops their weapon and you need to provide medical assistance to someone? Wacky scenarios aren’t needed here, but make sure you know your priorities. Indecision leads to inaction.
Keep your eyes scanning and your mind attentive. Don’t just be the guy who’s there when someone is needed, be the right man for the job.