You Have a Gun…Now What?

It bothers me—a lot—when someone admits that he or she has a gun…but doesn’t know how to use it. Take it one step further than that: I know several people who have “confessed” that they have obtained their concealed carry permits, but they have no clue how to operate their firearms. Or I’ve heard this scenario many times that someone received a gun as a gift from concerned loved ones, but then this person never loaded or fired the gun even once.

Undoubtedly, for those who have firearms and for those who choose to live a concealed carry lifestyle, it is not enough simply to have a gun. It is not enough that we know, understand, and abide by the firearms safety rules, either. We need to know how to safely and effectively use this defensive tool. We need to train!

This doesn’t mean that you need to master shooting from prone, become a certified instructor, or train like a Navy SEAL (unless you want to do all of those things, of course!). But it does mean that you should find classes and instructors in your area so you can learn more about guns, build good muscle memory, and practice what you know…so you can be better prepared in the event you ever needed to use that otherwise useless piece of metal in your holster.

There are all sorts of classes about all sorts of things taught by all sorts of trainers. You can start by searching the internet for USCCA, NRA, or other reputable training organizations in your area. Check with local gun stores or shooting ranges. Talk with people. Do an online search. Any one of these resources is bound to produce some possibilities. Just don’t rely solely on a family member or a friend to “show you the ropes.” Sometimes it’s difficult to learn from someone you know too well; other times it’s challenging to learn from someone who isn’t effective at teaching. We’ve all been there! While these folks may have the best intentions, it’s often best for everyone if you seek out a class that fits your skill level and your needs and find a trainer whom you like. I can’t describe what those elements will be for you, since different people prefer different things. But if you would rather participate in a class of only ladies, seek out that class. If you want to learn from a female instructor, look for that person. If you’re brand new and need the basics, sign up for the introductory course. If you need a class that’s mostly range time, find one. Whether you are male or female, young or old, individual or group, neophyte or experienced, there is a class out there for you.

Even if some sort of firearms training is not required for a CCW permit in your state, you need it. Trust me. Everyone should be comfortable and capable with his or her self-defense gun…and with the mental, emotional, legal, and financial aspects that may go with that. And that doesn’t happen overnight—nor does it happen by osmosis. If you’re ready to jump into high-intensity, defensive-pistol techniques, then by all means, do it. Otherwise, look for classes that teach safe gun handling skills, basic marksmanship skills, malfunction clearing, shooting from a holster, shooting with concealment, shooting while moving, and shooting with one hand. Then build on those skills.

Be sure to challenge yourself. Challenge yourself to overcome any fears or setbacks. And challenge yourself to incorporate both quality training and quantity training (as in, practice effectively…and practice as often as you can). And remember: Without proper training and practice, your gun is useless. So treat firearms training as a journey, not a destination. And there’s always room to learn more!

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