Like most of life’s journeys, the evolution from concealed carry newbie to confident daily carrier is marked by countless concealed carry milestones. While no two armed Americans travel identical routes to confident carry, some milestones seem to be fairly common. Off the top of my head, the following milestones are likely broad enough to touch thousands of us:

  • Buying your first gun
  • Your first trip to the range
  • Applying for and receiving your Concealed Carry License
  • Your first handgun class
  • Learning to clean and store your weapon
  • Finding a holster that works for your lifestyle
  • The first time you carried in public
  • Talking to your family about concealed carry

The list of milestones could go on for pages, and I’d still never hit every marker on my own, much less anyone else’s journey. I’ve written a few blogs outlining my own (admittedly recent) growing comfort with the concealed carry lifestyle. I’ve discussed how my father and I got our permits on a whim, how I may have accidentally carried illegally due to unfamiliarity with local laws (several years before my employment at USCCA), and how I felt like everyone was watching me the first time I carried a concealed pistol into a grocery store. However, there are so many more personal milestones, even over my short career as a responsibly armed American.

For instance:

  • Helping a friend pick out a firearm for home defense
  • Having a relative ask, “What are you scared of?” and explaining that preparation does not equal fear
  • Taking the USCCA “Defensive Shooting Fundamentals: Level 1” training — what a rush that was!
  • Discussing home-defense plans with my partner, then having to come up with a new plan when we changed residences
  • Planning an interstate camping trip and researching concealed carry laws for every state along the route (so as not to fall into ignorant negligence again)
  • Then having to tent camp with a pistol!

Every Milestone Is Different

The growth and education of a responsible concealed carrier is a path of personal enrichment. I asked around the office for a couple of USCCA employees to chime in with their own concealed carry milestones. Their responses were delightfully different than mine.

Ashley F: “I just shared in my [weekly departmental meeting] that I’ve been watching all of the Weekly Training Videos on the [USCCA] Member Dashboard. It’s great for getting back to basics and making corrections/improvements on your training for dry fire or live fire.”

Susie Z: “Keep in mind my journey is relatively short. There are a few things that seemed small, but had a big impact on my confidence:

  1. The first time I took my firearm apart to clean it rather than relying on my husband to do it.
  2. My experience participating in a league made me more confident at the range. There used to be so much time in between my [range] visits that I would need a refresher on how to operate the firearm each time. I no longer make the occasional mistake of trying to put the mag in backward!
  3. For the longest time, I refused to dry-fire practice, even though I knew I’d gone through the steps to make sure the firearm and room were clear. Then one day, I did it and got over it!”

I’d love to read about your own personal concealed carry milestones. Feel free to leave them in the comments below or make a free account and share your stories with other like-minded defenders on the USCCA Community page.