One of the benefits of gun ownership that most jurisdictions have allowed is the ability to concealed carry a weapon. Before you just grab your favorite handgun and put it into a comfortable holster as you head to work, it is important to remember that there are certain rules and tips that must be followed to make this a successful experience.
Please Note: It may be against the law in your jurisdiction to concealed carry without a permit. If you must file an application to concealed carry, then you must meet your local jurisdiction’s requirements in order to be approved for your permit. This means you may be required to provide proof of ownership, proof of skill, and/or documentation that you have completed prerequisite training classes. Each state has different requirements in the US, so check with your local Sheriff’s Office if you are unsure.
Holster Comfort is Important
Choosing a firearm is easy. Choosing the holster to carry that firearm – there’s the difficult part of this equation. You can go through dozens of holsters and still never really find one that is completely comfortable for your concealed carry preferences. Don’t just settle for one holster and think you’ll get comfortable with it the more you wear it. That rarely happens. Most people who are uncomfortable will just stop carrying their firearm.
It’s also good to have one holster for each firearm that you own. Although there are general holsters that can adapt to many different firearms, they might not be the best solution for you. Find a holster that you and each of your firearms love and you’ll be better equipped.
Concealed Carry All the Time
Although some might laugh at the idea, it is important to know how your concealed carry setup is going to work. You need to know how it feels and what happens when you encounter different situations. If you lean over to pick up something that has fallen off your desk at work, do you really want your firearm to fall out of its holster on you? Of course not.
Being proactive and wearing your holster full-time around the house for a few days before going out in public will help you get a feel for your setup. You’ll be able to feel how your holster and firearm shift with your natural movements and be able to adapt your body to the changes that it is experiencing.
Don’t Make It a Public Spectacle
Take 20 minutes and just watch people in a public area. You’re guaranteed to find at least one or two people that you know are carrying a concealed firearm because they are constantly fidgeting with their setup. These fidgets draw attention to you and the people around you are going to know that you’re carrying a firearm. Although you see a gun as a useful tool, others are very fearful of firearms and may react to you in a negative way.
If your holster is getting uncomfortable, step out of the public eye for a moment and then make the adjustments that are necessary. Keep your hands away from the firearm at all times unless you intend to use it.
Limit Your Personal Enhancements
One of the best parts about owning a firearm is customizing it. Different sights, slide releases, and triggers can all make a gun uniquely your own. When you’re carrying your firearm, however, these custom additions can also increase the chances of concealed carry failure. Gun manufacturers have created the stock options for each firearm and holsters are designed to fit these stock options. If you want the best chance for your firearm to operate correctly when you first use your concealed carry permit, then limit the customizations until you become more familiar with this lifestyle.
Then, once your firearm has become like an extra body part, you’ll be ready to customize your firearm to your heart’s content.
Don’t Be Nervous
The goal of a concealed carry permit is pretty simple: for no one to know that you are carrying a gun. Yet beginners tend to act a bit nervous the first few times they are carrying. Focus on your daily routine, try to take a few deep breaths to relax, and don’t feel like everyone who is looking at you is judging you about your firearm.
Practice Safe Shooting
When you’re carrying a firearm in public, you’re taking on the responsibility of protecting yourself and others from harm. This means you must use your firearm safely and only discharge it as the option of last resort. The news has been filled with stories of concealed carry folks shooting at escaping shoplifters or at misidentified suspects, sometimes injuring or even killing the wrong person.
That’s not a place you want to be. If you feel your life or the life of someone in the general public is threatened, then use your skills and training to safely use your firearm. Is some kid stealing a few movies from Wal-Mart really worth taking a life? Probably not – even if that kid is breaking the law. Justice comes from having a consequence fit the crime, not from your ability to shoot someone down just because you have a permit to carry a firearm.
Take Your Setup to the Range
The news is also filled with stories of people who accidentally discharge their weapon as they attempt to draw it from their holster or as they’re trying to clear their setup. This occurs because people are not actually practicing with their setup from start to finish. When you go to the range, for example, practice shooting by drawing the firearm from the holster.
You’re not going to be wearing the same clothing every day either. You might wear a hoodie one day, a t-shirt the next, and how you’re able to actually use your firearm will be altered by the change in clothing. Practice with different clothing on so that you’re prepared for any situation you may face. Don’t forget to follow all safety rules when cleaning your firearm, including making sure that there aren’t any loaded rounds in the chamber.
Carrying a loaded gun is something that makes a concealed carrier just as nervous as some people who see a gun in public. There’s a fear that the gun will go off at any time and that could cause a painful injury. Modern weapons aren’t just going to accidentally discharge, so it is important to become confident in your ability to carry a loaded firearm in a concealed fashion.
It’s also important to be confident about the laws in your community about how many rounds you can carry. There may be restrictions on certain firearms so that 7-10 rounds may only be allowed. Check local statutes or speak with your local Sheriff’s Office for advice on this matter.
Keep It to Yourself
It can be a proud moment to receive your concealed carry permit. Telling your family and your close friends that you received it is only natural. Yet many beginners will post this fact as a status update on their Facebook account. They’ll tell their co-workers. They might even talk about it to the cashier at the grocery store. When you do this, then you’re removing the element of surprise. People know you’re carrying, even if it’s concealed, so you might as well be open carrying.
Even with your close family and friends, don’t mention where you plan to carry your holster. If people know where you’re carrying your firearm, it becomes easier to disarm you.
It also means that more people will start to pay attention to your habits. If you’re not at home, then people will know that you’re likely armed where you are and that there isn’t anything at your place to prevent a robbery. All it takes is one person with ill intent knowing that you are carrying a firearm to start causing you a major headache. If you limit those who know what you’re doing, there are fewer chances for problems to develop.
Sure – carrying a gun is a pretty serious thing to do. It can often be a very stressful experience for concealed carry beginners. Some can even feel so intimidated by the experience that they carry their firearm once and never again. When you’re happy with your setup and confident about your skills, then you’ve already made progress in this area. Keep up the moment.
Some might say that the desire to concealed carry communicates fear. When done properly, what it actually does is communicate confidence. It’s a statement that you value all life and want to protect yourself, your family, and your community. As long as this attitude is consistent, you will be able to have a fun and successful concealed carry experience.
These concealed carry tips for beginners are intended to help get you started or provide you with a friendly reminder of what you should be doing. Stay responsible, do your thing, and don’t be careless with your firearm and you will find success.