BEGINNERS: What To Expect The First Time You Carry A Firearm
Because we’re a resource for beginners entering into the practice of carrying a concealed handgun everyday, we get a lot of first time opinions and anecdotes relating to that first time.
The first time is unique to the individual. Not everyone comes from the same background when it comes to firearms. People get into carrying a concealed handgun for a number of different reasons. They all ultimately come back to one thing: you have a right to bear arms and defend yourself — and you should.
Several things many concealed carriers notice their first day carrying a handgun:
- Heightened awareness of strangers
- Trouble adjusting to having an extra inch or two in the waistline from the holster and gun
- Overly sensitive to how others look at them (“Can they see it?”)
- Worries about law enforcement interactions
- Worries about inadvertently going into “gun free zones”
Here’s a couple common things we’ve run across when talking to beginners on their first day carrying a concealed handgun:
Afraid To Carry With A Round In The Chamber
This is one of the biggest hurdles a lot of people unfamiliar with firearms run across. There’s a suspicion that somehow a round in the chamber will equate to a greater chance of something messing up and the gun going off.
There are no mistakes in the handling of firearms. We either do something or don’t do something that leads to a negligent discharge. The reason why we push concealed carriers so hard to carry everyday with a round in the chamber is because if that gun owner has to draw his or her handgun in an actual dangerous situation, he doesn’t need to pause to ask himself whether or not a round is racked and ready to go.
FIX: Do it anyway. Push past the fear of worrying about a round accidentally discharging and focus instead on maintaining good control over your handgun.
Your handgun holster should have the following:
Good retention — The gun shouldn’t be able to slide in and out easily. Sorry, your Uncle Mike’s may not cut it.
Trigger protection — If the trigger is not exposed, the trigger can’t rub up against something and magically go off.
People tend to run into problems when they use a holster that either doesn’t fully surround and protect the trigger or there is poor retention.
Worrying About Printing Or Getting Spotted. (Don’t)
Every first time concealed carrier likely looks at him or herself in the mirror before stepping out the door and tries to see if he can spot the outline of his handgun. Chances are good if you can see it, someone else can. But the good news is that most people don’t really pay attention unless something is very evident. If you’re wearing a thin, tight t-shirt over a full size handgun in an inside the waistband holster, yeah, people will notice there’s a gun in your waistband. If you are wearing a polar fleece zip-up or a flannel shirt and the outline is there but not concrete — nobody will notice.
More importantly, in most parts of the country, no one cares if you have a gun on you. The only reason they would care is if you make it an issue they need to care about.
FIX: Don’t over complicate things.
If you have a spouse or significant other, quickly ask him or her if your holster and gun are easily visible. If they say ‘no’, check once in a mirror and go about your day.
Carrying A Concealed Handgun Off-Body
We’ve heard from a lot of first time concealed carriers that think a purse or briefcase is a great place to store a handgun. It’s actually not. People do it. That’s their prerogative. It’s not a practice we recommend. If you are going to keep a handgun in a purse, briefcase, or backpack, get one that’s designed to carry a handgun.
The reason why we so strenuously recommend that you always carry your handgun on your body is because you have the greatest amount of control over what happens to your body.
There are situations where it is either not possible or not helpful to carry a handgun on your body. Those are situations where we recommend using a bag that is designed to protect and carry a handgun.
The biggest issue we see arise from storing loaded guns in bags is negligent discharge or theft.
- If you are fishing your hand frantically searching for your handgun, that’s a bad situation.
- If a thief or bad guy snatches your bag from you, you’re going to have a bad day.
- If some unintended party like a neighbor’s kid or otherwise irresponsible user is able to access your handgun without you knowing, that’s extremely bad.
These situations can all be avoided entirely by simply storing the gun in a place that it is designed to go — on your body or in a suitably well designed bag that incorporates a holster.
Needing To Adjust And Not Knowing When It’s Appropriate
So you got an inside the waistband holster that has a plastic clip that comes loose on your belt. Now you’re struggling to make sure your gun stays seated in your waistband like it should.
Maybe you felt the gun adjust or maybe the retention isn’t so good on your holster and it is starting to slide out.
FIX: These are all situations that a first day concealed carrier can run into. It’s completely normal. For both of these situations, we recommend going to a private place — like a bathroom — and do whatever adjustments you need to.
Worrying About Having To Use The Gun On The First Day
It’s unlikely you will ever need to use your gun in self-defense in your daily routine. But you didn’t start carrying a gun because of that. You likely started carrying a gun because in that completely off chance you need to use it, all the crime statistics in the world won’t matter.
That fear is good. You shouldn’t want to use a gun unless your life or the life of another person is in imminent danger.
It’s called situational awareness. It’s a thing that will be rudely introduced to you the very first day you carry a concealed handgun.
You will begin seeing people differently. That’s okay. Your mind is likely looking at folks to determine if those people could pose a threat. Two people bickering in the fruit aisle, though, will not likely present any problem for you. More importantly, you don’t have to step in if something bad does happen.
Especially during busy holiday seasons, when crowds are stressed, and people are trying to get places quickly without regard for others, concealed carriers may tend to have a heightened sense of awareness. Whether it’s your first day or seventeen-hundredth day, we all experience it.
FIX: Don’t be afraid to be aware of your surroundings. Don’t jump to conclusions, though.
First Day Road Rage Incidents
A big fear for a lot of first day concealed carriers is running into that jerk on the road. We all know him. His name is Joe. Joe doesn’t care about anyone else and thinks you’re driving too slow. He may even feel the need to cut you off at an intersection or do other ridiculous things that send your spidey senses a’tingling.
Here’s the thing all first time concealed carriers need to remember when stuck in these situations:
If the situation can de-escalate on its own, you don’t need to do anything about it.
If Joe wants to cut you off at the intersection or decides to tail you for a mile before spinning off and gunning it down the street in a show of wild douchery, that’s on him. You’re responsible for you. Let the dude go. It’s not worth your time, the legal hassle, and the shenanigans to insert yourself into an aggressive situation.
Obviously, it’s different if Joe wants to cut you off or try to force you off the road. That’s when you call the cops. If Joe wants to get out of his truck at the intersection and approach your vehicle, defend yourself accordingly.
But for your average run-of-the-mill road jerk, simply letting him go along his way is probably good enough.
EASY FIX: Don’t insert yourself into an aggressive road situation. Don’t antagonize. Don’t show off. Just let the dumb-dumb go.
There’s likely quite a few other first time concealed carry things that will pop up as you near your first day. Send us a message on our Facebook page or through our contact address and tell us what your first impressions were.
What were some things you experienced or are worried about? Chime in at the comments section below.