British Prime Minister Winston Churchill reportedly said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from mistakes.” We asked our USCCA Community Members to reveal their newbie self-defense mistakes (not to embarrass or poke fun at them, of course, but rather to help others learn from their experiences). These mistakes can be used as guidelines for what newbies should and shouldn’t do. Here’s what our community members had to say:

Educate Yourself and Seek Training

  • “Not getting a teacher sooner. Get a coach. Coaching matters. It’ll save you money, time and the risk of doing unsafe things. Plus it’s way more fun to shoot when you’re better at it.”
  • “I really push people to start with a qualified trainer, coach or teacher. Your spouse, sweetheart, sibling, parent, uncle or neighbor may be a great shot (or maybe not as great a shot as [he or she] think[s]), but unless [he or she is] a firearms teacher, get a firearms teacher.”
  • “Hand grip and thumb placement, two whammies … wound up with a split thumbnail.”
  • “Those two scars on my left thumb are from a poor grip. One of those ‘it-only-happens-once’ lessons!”
  • “I’ve got a scope scar on my right eyebrow … last time I ever crawled up the stock!”
  • “My first time cleaning a no-barrel-bushing 1911, I put a very nice idiot scratch on my semi-custom gun…”
  • “Slide bites! I know you all have (at least) one. I still have two scars on my left thumb from many years ago when I first shot my Colt Officer’s Model .380 with my left thumb wrapped above by right thumb. They aren’t very noticeable anymore. But damn, that hurt.”

These testimonials help emphasize that continued education and proper training are critical. Neither should end once you get your concealed carry permit (that’s only the beginning of your self-defense journey). That’s why the USCCA is here as a resource. The right education and training will save you time and money and help you to avoid injury. Just ask our community members.

Do Your Research

  • Holsters. [I] spent way too much time reading about what was new, cool and hot on the internet and have quite a pile of holsters I’ll never want to use again for various reasons. Students, however, benefit from my mistakes. They go through boxes of them and I tell them what I do, did or didn’t like about them.”
  • “I would’ve saved a lot by getting a gun belt sooner. Sometimes it’s not the holster; it’s the belt.”
  • “I purchased my first intended carry gun before my CCW license arrived, picked it up at the gun shop after my three-day wait [and] walked straight into the gun range. I didn’t clean the gun and gave the owner’s manual a cursory glance. It was a Kel-Tec PF-9 — very lightweight and kicked like an angry mule. After the first shot nearly launched the gun behind me, I wrestled a much firmer — and much higher — grip on the gun. I pulled the trigger. The slide ripped rearward and tore a nice chunk out of my strong-side thumb. Good thing I had a handkerchief in my pocket … I shot that gun for a few weeks, but by the time I started carrying, I had traded it in for a Stoeger Cougar (which I eventually traded in for a Glock 43). Lessons learned: Clean the new gun, read the new gun’s owner’s manual and don’t be in such a hurry to shoot the new gun.”

The takeaway: It is imperative to do your research before purchasing self-defense equipment. Don’t impulsively order the latest, coolest gear or weapon without doing some investigative work. It may not be the right fit for you. A little bit of research will allow you to avoid making the wrong purchases and draining your bank account.

Consider joining our Community to become involved in other engaging discussions around self-defense, regardless if you are a beginner, an expert or somewhere in-between. All are welcome here at the USCCA.