6 Steps New Gun Owners Should Take
Are you ready for a CCW license? This question is, or at least should be, on the mind of most everyone who purchases a firearm. As we all know, people use a multitude of reasons to justify the purchase to themselves or their spouse. But all purchasers have one common interest – protection of themselves and their families. Some have no intention of actually carrying a firearm, but nonetheless want to protect their family in their home. You have to be honest with yourself when you answer whether or not you’re ready for a concealed carry weapons license.
Ask any CCW instructor and they will tell you they have seen it all. From the person who registers for a CCW class but doesn’t own a firearm and has never even shot one, to the person who has taken the process very seriously.
What does “taking the process seriously” mean? That can be subjective based on the person, their experience and current needs. A person who feels their life is in imminent danger after getting a restraining order against another person might believe they need to immediately purchase a firearm and get trained and licensed.
In my opinion, those who purchase a firearm – no matter the reason – need to follow a process. Following all the procedures to get properly trained and prepared to carry a concealed firearm will immensely help gun owners. Here are six steps I feel you should take if you want to get your CCW license.
1. Learn Firearms Safety
First, you need to learn and practice firearms safety. This includes the following:
- Assume all firearms are always loaded. Every time you touch a firearm under any circumstance, verify its condition. Countless people have shot themselves or others when they assumed the firearm was not loaded. It only takes seconds to verify every time.
- Never point a firearm at anyone or anything you do not intent to shoot.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to fire.
- Know you target and its surroundings. Bullets will pass through people, paper, walls and more.
2. Get Comfortable with Firearms
Next, become knowledgeable and comfortable with firearms, including maintenance and care. If you don’t own a firearm, visit your local shooting range. The range safety officer will be more than happy to help you pick a rental firearm and review the rules of safety and good range etiquette. After a few trips to the range and shooting a variety of firearms, you may be ready to purchase a firearm. Keep in mind the firearm you purchase may not be suitable for concealed carry, but nonetheless is the right choice for a first firearm.
3. Take a Basics Firearms Class
Next, you should take a basic firearms class. You will learn to properly shoot, including the fundamentals of stance, grip, sight alignment/sight picture, breath control, trigger control and follow-through. Firearms training will help you learn to be accurate and comfortable with shooting. If you are not comfortable at a range, you will never be comfortable carrying.
4. Reflect on Your Need to Carry
Now you are ready to stop and ask yourself the serious questions:
- Am I mentally prepared to carry?
- What would I do in a life-threatening situation, perceived or real?
- Have I had sufficient training? Or do I need more?
- Do I have the right firearm for concealed carry?
- Do I have the right equipment for concealed carry? (Holster, clothing, etc.)
- Have I dry practiced with my firearm and equipment enough to feel comfortable walking out the door? Note: I highly recommend getting a training pistol to ensure safety.
5. Take a CCW Class with Value
Enroll in the right concealed carry weapons class. Many states have minimal requirements for obtaining a license. However, don’t settle for minimal. Invest in yourself and look for a class that delivers value, not just a certificate. NRA and USCCA courses are structured to provide firearms knowledge, legal understanding and good training on the range from certified instructors.
6. Get Advanced Training
Even after you have obtained your concealed carry weapons license, with all this under your belt, you are still only getting started. You need, at a minimum, an Advanced Concealed Carry class to learn how to move and shoot, understand cover and concealment, and get an introduction to dealing with a variety of situations you could find yourself in.
Let me throw out a startling statistic: less than 1% of the more than 17 million concealed carry license holders in the United States have taken any formal training beyond their state’s minimum requirement to obtain a license. I would venture to say that a large percentage did not follow the steps I’ve outlined and went straight to the CCW class. Does that mean that none of those individuals are capable of carrying concealed? No.
I know many fellow shooters who regularly shoot in IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association), USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) and 3-Gun matches who have never taken a formal defensive shooting class. Do I feel they could benefit from advanced training? Absolutely. But I do believe far too many of the 99% who have had no formal training are woefully unprepared when they do carry.
Keep in mind that with all this under your belt the objective is to never have to use a firearm if it is not absolutely necessary. Any good firearms instructor’s classes will always include a serious discussion on situational awareness and concepts like OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) to avoid confrontations before they occur.
Remember, the best fight is the fight you do not attend. But the best citizen is the prepared citizen. Whether your intentions are for home protection only or for concealed carry, you need to get properly prepared. If a situation should become unavoidable, you will have a foundation to draw from.