So you've gone to the store and bought a shiny new (or not shiny, depending on your tastes) handgun, did the responsible thing and took your concealed carry permit class, and you're now good to go. Right? You can now carry your gun wherever you're allowed to, based upon the state in which you live. Are you confidently carrying your gun knowing that you're as prepared as you can be?
Or, maybe you're like I was just a few months ago … living in a state that didn't require any training to get a concealed carry license. I honestly prefer that. It feels freer to me. I love freedom and feel strongly, on a personal level, that nobody should force us to get training. Knowing that, don't take what I'm about to say the wrong way:
You should take classes, on at least a semi-regular basis, if you are serious about self-defense and don't want your skills to perish. Shooting is a perishable skill. I know some folks have likened shooting to riding a bike. Heck, I think I even have said it like that before. But, it's more like learning a new language than riding a bike. If you don't use it you eventually lose it. Maybe you don't lose all of it, but enough to no longer be considered proficient.
I used to be able to speak Japanese to some degree because I was stationed in Japan during my time in the Marines. These days, I can remember only a few key phrases–which would likely be just enough to get me out of a jam, find a toilet, or ask for the police if needed.
Training with your handgun is the same way. If you don't do it, you'll lose it. Again, maybe you won't lose all of it, but you'll lose enough of it to not be as proficient as you should be IF you ever need to draw your firearm in defense of your own, or a loved one's, life.
Static Shooting only does the body so much good:
Here's the thing though. You don't just need “training” how you've been doing it since you got your permit. You need to take it up a notch. Why? Hopefully it's obvious, but you want to stack as many pluses on your side as possible when it comes to defending your life. That's the training that's going to kick in if you ever find yourself in a critical incident.
If you're statically shooting at a still paper target, it's not enough. Sure, it's great for fundamentals, but it's not enough. Why?
Bad guys fight back:
Why isn't static shooting enough? Because bad guys fight back. In fact, they're the ones who attacked you to begin with, right? So, chances of you being able to get into your full shooting position aren't likely. In fact, you may not even be able to get your support hand on your gun. What then? What do you do if you only have one hand?
Or, worse yet, what if your shooting/strong hand gets hurt in the fight and you still need to defend yourself from other attackers? That's a nightmare if you've never practiced shooting with your support hand. It sounds far fetched, but it could and has happened. An advanced instructor may teach you these skills, depending on the class you take.
Bad guys move:
You've likely heard of the 21 foot rule. And, while I'm not here to discuss how legit that is, there is at least some merit to it. It's been proven that a bad guy can make up 21 feet in the time it takes for you to draw your gun and get on target. Chances are good that you've never had to shoot at a moving target. I have, and it's not as easy as you might think.
It may happen at night:
I've gone through low-light training of sorts, and it's a different animal altogether than shooting in broad daylight. A lot of the time, criminals attack when they cannot be seen as easily, during the night time hours. If you've never tried to acquire your sights in the dark, you need some low-light defensive tactics training under your belt.
There are plenty of advanced-level instructors who offer low-light shooting classes.
It may happen indoors:
Guess what? If you've never shot indoors or maneuvered around a house with a firearm, you're going to have a hard time doing it without any kind of proper training under your concealed carry belt. Think about it for a second–where do you spend most of your time? Is it in your house at night? If you're not getting trained on indoor defense, you could really fumble something up in that situation.
There may be other innocents around you:
This is something most people never think of. If you're in public, or even in your own house, there are almost always going to be other innocent people around you that you need to think of. What do you do with them? What if you have little kids? What if there are innocent bystanders in an active shooter situation? What do you do?
Cover or concealment:
Have you ever taken cover behind an object and fired your weapon? In a real life situation, you're going to want to find something to get behind if at all possible. You may need to keep shooting if you can't get away fully. First, do you know what to look for in proper cover? Second, do you know how to shoot back if needed? Many advanced training programs will teach this as one of the first tactics they teach.
What about a partner:
This is another one many people don't think about. Are you normally with someone else who carries a gun for self-defense? Are you trained on what to do together should the need arise? There are classes that revolve around two person or team self-defense. They're a great way to learn what to do in a team environment, and can be a real eye opener.
Every situation is different:
These above scenarios are more or less just designed to get you thinking about what could happen. There is no way any of us can foresee crime or an attack. It's just not going to happen. All each of us can do is to be as prepared mentally and physically as possible so we can overcome any attack on ourselves or family. To not seek out advanced training of some sort is borderline irresponsible, and you should seek out extra training as your budget allows. Your very life could depend on it. I know I'm overdue, and I'm looking for advanced training as we speak.
Consider attending the annual Guardian Conference where you can train with many of the top trainers in the industry all in one place. This saves you money and time because you're not traveling all over the country. The conference is right around the corner, don't miss out.
*This post was originally published in August 2019*