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How to Establish the Habit of Concealed Carry


This is one part in our series of articles about reasons why those with a concealed carry permit stop carrying concealed. Please visit this introductory post to learn more about this series of articles.

As humans we are naturally creatures of habit. The mind and body both thrive in repetition. Building habits and breaking habits can be difficult but this article is designed to help someone who has either never developed the habit of carrying concealed or has fallen out of the habit.

As well-intentioned as you may be, carrying a concealed firearm may not be a part of your everyday lifestyle. And make no mistake, it is a lifestyle. For some, it's a big change in lifestyle.

If you want to establish the habit of carrying concealed you must first understand how habits are formed and broken. All habits consist of 3 key parts: The Cue, The Routine, and The Reward.

The Cue is the thing in the environment that triggers in our sub-conscious the desire or need to follow the routine. Cues can be anything from hunger, time of day, weather conditions, smells, and much much more.

In the case of carrying a concealed firearm, common cues might include getting dressed in the morning, walking past the gun safe, seeing the gun safe, or other things that we do in the course of preparing ourselves for the day that trigger a sub-conscious thought or desire.

The Routine is the actual action that we take and the part of the habit most of us think of. In the case of carrying your concealed firearm the routine is the actual holstering of the weapon on your body or in your concealment system.

The Reward is the reaction that the routine triggers. This is often a feeling, physical or emotional, that we crave from practicing the routine. In the case of the concealed firearm, the reward may be the physical feeling of the firearm on your body or the peace of mind of knowing that you are better prepared for deadly threats.

This feeling of reward often creates a feeling of nakedness when you don't have your gun on after you've reached a certain point.

With that clarity please consider some of the following tips and adapt them for your own situation:

  • The most critical part of creating or recreating your concealed carry habit is establishing a strong cue that will trigger, or serve to remind you to arm yourself. Potential cues may include:
    • Putting the gun safe somewhere in the bedroom where you will look at it and or touch it during your dressing routine.
    • Putting something on your keychain that serves no other purpose than to remind you to get your gun. When you pick up your keys you will see and feel the cue item and retrieve the firearm.
    • Choose a cue that is part of EVERY day's routine regardless of it being a work day, holiday, weekend, etc.
    • Keep your holster in the same place as you do your pants, shirts, or belts so you can quickly attach it as you dress.
  • As you grab the firearm and slip it into the holster create a specific routine of actions in this process as well. This may include performing an inspection on the firearm before loading the magazine or other very specific steps that form a simple process out of arming yourself.

Finally, this all has to come from a desire to WANT to carry everyday. If you're not there yet, the above steps may not work for you.

I hope that this has been insightful and will serve to encourage you if you are not currently in the habit of carrying a concealed gun for self-defense, to once again raise yourself to this most critical level of preparedness.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Original publish date June, 2015.

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5 Responses to How to Establish the Habit of Concealed Carry

  1. Scott McCorvie July 31, 2020 at 5:56 pm #

    Have adopted the concealed carry lifestyle over the last couple of years, in great part thanks to all of the teaching and training you guys provide. Took me over a year to binge listen to all the podcasts every time I was driving – what a wealth of knowledge you guys provide! Have found the lifestyle is really a constant process of learning and adjusting. Through trying different clothing, holsters, guns, etc, there’s always new things to learn and ways to improve. I do kinda feel naked now if I’m not carrying! Thanks for all you do, keep up the great work!

    • Stephen Kidder August 8, 2020 at 10:13 am #

      I even carry mine when in my home! When I take it off to sleep its on my nightstand! Its part of “me!”

  2. Nelson August 7, 2020 at 6:10 am #

    Do you have any advice for a guy who works at his home computer 6+ hours a day, goes outside for a daily stroll down his cul-de-sac street, and grabs his firearm only when on a run to the store? Is carrying in and around the house *that* important? This is an honest question. I’ve gone back and forth in my head for a long time, so your advice is welcome!

    • Jacob Paulsen August 7, 2020 at 8:07 am #

      Nelson, you are not alone. This is a common approach to concealed carry. The decision to carry is ultimately a balance of convenience and risk. You currently feel that the risk is low enough and the convenience is low enough that it doesn’t justify wearing the gun when at home. I disagree, but of course its a personal decision. Wearing the gun at home should be extremely convenient because concealment isn’t necessary. You can use an OWB holster if you want. Further, risk may feel low because you are in a fortified position but yet statistically a larger percentage of defensive gun uses take place in one’s home than outside of the home. Additionally, thinking you will have time to get to the gun may or may not be true depending on the circumstances. A good discussion on the topic can be found here

  3. Mike Smith August 14, 2020 at 8:40 am #

    If your are going to carry, then carry. Carry all the time (I’m talking concealed). A big part of who will carry all the time is whether or not they are comfortable. I’m not talking about comfortable with being a concealed carrier, I’m talking about being comfortable wearing your holster and gun. Your holster needs to be comfortable to wear and your gun needs to be something that fits snug and does not jab your skin all day long. If your holster and gun combination is comfortable to wear you will be more likely to actually wear it.

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