Getting started in the world of firearms can be a little like riding on a roller coaster. It’s a bit overwhelming, and it may even make you feel a bit lightheaded and queasy. There are also some surprises, some excitement and a variety of ups and downs. In fact, getting involved in the world of concealed carry may be like getting strapped in for a fun ride, not knowing you’re about to experience 3Gs.
Well, I have three different “G”s to keep in mind to make things a bit easier. They’re just a few basics and essentials for getting your bearings when you’re ready to start the journey of responsible gun ownership.
The first “G” stands for guidance. It would certainly be nice to have your own personal Yoda, guiding your steps, introducing you to important concepts and teaching you in all the ways of CCW. But if you don’t have easy or immediate access to a great mentor, then this first step should involve all the research, reading, training and question-asking you should do beforehand. Thankfully, there are a lot of great resources out there (thanks in part to the USCCA). But there are a lot of bad ones floating around as well.
So dig a little and find reputable sources of information. Ask a lot of questions from a lot of different people and then weigh all those answers carefully. Then take a class. Or three. Or as many as you can … before you even purchase a firearm! I have many students ask me if they need to buy a gun before they take my basic pistol class, and I always tell them, “No.” I would much rather a brand-new student test and try as many guns as he or she can before taking any further steps.
Speaking of next steps, the next “G” is the gun itself. This includes finding the firearm that’s right for you and your concealed carry lifestyle. That can be quite the process, especially if you’re just starting out. You may not recognize what “right” is. You may not really know what you’re looking for, what fits or what works.
So, how do you select the “right” gun? We know it’s not a fairytale in which the perfect pistol appears like magic. But from the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s not a mathematical equation in which the solution is set in stone either. The answer depends on many different circumstances and considerations. When it comes to selecting and purchasing a firearm, you’ll find that just about every choice you make will be a compromise or a trade-off between size, recoil, power, concealability and even training. So the right gun for you may not be the right gun for your husband, your mother, your sister, your son or your friend. The right gun for you, ultimately, will be the one you can use effectively, safely and proficiently. And sometimes that takes a bit of trial and error.
My suggestion is to take your time. Listen to, look at and try everything you can. Put those guns in your hand and actually shoot them — more than once! Narrow down your selection to two or three guns … then walk away. Read some reviews about each and make notes about what you like and dislike. Then make your choice. After you’ve searched, tried and tested the possibilities, you’ll know when you’ve finally found the one (or two?) that’s most suitable for YOU.
The last of our 3 “Gs” stands for gear, which can post its own set of interesting problems. There’s a lot of really neat stuff out there. And all of it can be very tempting. But it’s important that you weed through what you may need now and decide what can wait until later.
Remember to think about the bare essentials. Are you planning to carry on body? Where will you keep your firearm? Will you be practicing a lot? The answers to some basic questions like these may point you in some clear directions for the gear you need immediately, such as a holster, probably a sturdy belt, some ammunition and a range bag. I would also highly recommend getting eye and ear protection and some cleaning supplies up front, no matter what other purchases you choose to make, since it’s imperative that you stay safe when training and that you keep your gun clean and in good working order. Think about storage options too — possibly a small safe or a gun lock — especially if there are children in your home. You don’t want any unauthorized persons to gain access to your firearms.
About Beth Alcazar
Beth Alcazar, author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals and associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine has enjoyed nearly two decades of working and teaching in the firearms industry. Beth is passionate about safe and responsible firearms use and enthusiastic about teaching others. She is certified as an instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.