The conversation starts like this…I ask, “Do you shoot?” She gets a big smile on her face, and announces proudly, “Oh Yeah Girl! I’ve got my concealed carry permit!” I say, “Well that’s wonderful…but that’s not what I asked you…I asked…”Do you SHOOT”?
And then the truth comes out…”Oh. Well, no…my husband/boyfriend/father (insert well intentioned man’s name here) bought me a gun and I took the CCH course a couple of years ago, but I still don’t feel comfortable. It’s in the case/drawer/safe/glove compartment/under my bed/top of my closet (insert “get that thing away from me” location here)”. “Let me guess, he bought you a double action, hammerless, snub nose .38 revolver, right?” “I think so. I don’t know what double action means but that sounds right. How did you know?”
No wonder she doesn’t shoot or feel comfortable with her gun. I assure her it doesn’t have to be that way. If you don’t have a gun when you need it and are not professionally trained to use it, you might as well not have one. Let’s back up, start over and do it right!
The concealed carry course is a valuable education for the PROFICIENT legal firearm owner that chooses to carry their firearm on their person or by some other means of concealment. This is NOT a beginner “teach me to shoot” course. This course teaches state law…where you can go and where you can’t with your firearm; when you can shoot and when you can’t; the legalities. It REVIEWS marksmanship fundamentals and gun cleaning but these are not covered in the detail needed for a beginner student.
So why does everyone flock to a Concealed Carry Course? Quite frankly, the Concealed Carry Instructor market is flooded. Practically everybody and his dog has a credential to teach the CCH course. The CCH course is usually the only course most instructors teach and they only market the one class they are credentialed to teach. Most are credentialed to teach the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course only because it is required to obtain their CCH Instructor certification but few offer the course to the public. The public never hears about the classes they need before and after CCH so they take the only course they have heard of. This is the root of the problem.
When you build a house do you start with the roof or the foundation? The majority of gun owners proudly sporting their CCH cards are running around holding a roof over their heads and don’t know what to do with it! Many don’t feel comfortable with their guns because there was no foundation to build upon.
There are courses that aptly come before and after the CCH course. The serious firearms student will seek out the accredited Basics of Pistol Shooting course such as offered by the National Rifle Association preferably prior to taking the CCH course. If you have already taken the CCH course, you should still go back and take this course to learn what was not offered in CCH. After the CCH course, students should also consider attending the accredited NRA courses: Personal Protection In The Home and Personal Protection Outside the Home. It’s not enough to own a gun or carry a gun if you can’t proficiently and effectively use it when needed. Shooting a target that is standing still while you are standing still is NOT defensive training. You are wasting money, time and lead.
Don’t be “THAT GUY” who says, “I don’t need a class…I’ve been around guns all my life!” I’ve been around a kitchen all my life too and I’m a decent cook but a professional chef I am not. False security is running rampant in our society today. “I have a gun, a CCH permit and I’ve been around guns all my life, so let me strap this baby on and dare anyone to look at me cross-eyed.” This is foolish and dangerous. It is also a myth to think you won’t be held to legal standards if you haven’t had a formal class by claiming “I didn’t know.” That won’t hold water in a court of law. Educate yourself.
Some wives are fortunate enough to rope “that guy” into coming to a Basic Firearms class with her and he agrees to support the little lady. At the end of the day he leaves with a surprised new perspective. I frequently hear them say “I had no idea how much I DIDN’T know…WOW.”
When seeking out formal firearms instruction remember the old adage, BUYER BEWARE! There are many courses being taught that are not accredited, even by those with NRA Instructor credentials. Be careful not to take a similarly named class by individuals who think they know more than the NRA or the ones “lifting” content from the NRA. These individuals have created their own classes or hybrid courses as a means to skirt the rigorous requirements of the NRA. They are clever to name their course something that sounds like an NRA course and will tell you their course has the same content as an NRA course but you won’t get the real McCoy if you fall for it. The NRA has been in the training business since 1871 and there is no substitute. Before you register for a class ask the following: Are you a credentialed NRA Instructor? Are you teaching an accredited course offered by the NRA? Check the NRA website and see if the class they are offering is the real deal.
If you really DO know more than most and fancy yourself as the one that should share your wisdom with all your friends, family and co-workers…please do us all a favor and don’t. You are doing everyone a disservice. If you wish to teach others, please seek out your NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Instructor credential and do it right. In your desire to help you are actually hurting by starting others down a path of learning improper muscle memory. By the time they come to us, they have to “unlearn” and start over.
Whether you are a beginner or an instructor candidate, find a credentialed instructor or Training Counselor teaching accredited courses in your area and start your firearms education today! Let’s make that Concealed Carry permit more than just a piece of paper and put it to work.