If you got your concealed carry permit in a state that has a mandatory training requirement, you already know the potentially intense boredom that comes from sitting in a classroom for several hours waiting to get some range time.
There are people who have never fired a single shot in their life and most introductory courses are made to take those people to a basic limited level of proficiency and confidence. You may not have been in that pool when you took the class. And for a lot of concealed carriers with prior experience with firearms, these classes may not offer a lot in terms of entertainment value.
Unfortunately, this can lead a lot of gun owners to believe they’re too good for training. After all, if you already think you know how to handle a gun safely and can hit the broad side of a barn at 10 yards, you’re obviously ready to take on a blood-thirsty pirate zombie in real life. Right?
The problem is a belief. That belief is that you, the everyday concealed carrier, has nothing to gain from a training course. And there’s also an issue of time, money, and commitment.
But you’re still carrying concealed, aren’t you?
There’s just a single problem: no one is truly ready to use a gun to defend his life. It’s a situation law-abiding citizens are thrust into, not something they seek. No matter how many movies we’ve watched, prior military or law enforcement experience, or a lifetime spent shooting guns at the range, nothing compares to that once-in-a-lifetime situation where you are forced to pull your gun from your holster and protect yourself.
Every moment spent at the range, safely practicing drawing and holstering your handgun, and physical conditioning will ever truly make a person 100% ready. What it will do is incrementally push you closer to that level of readiness.
That’s why every concealed carrier ought to train. Not just the hypothetical “oh, I’ll get to it” or “when I feel like firing off 100 rounds at the range” — concentrated, purposeful, dedicated training time is needed.
3 Ways To Make Training Great Again
In order to break ourselves out of complacency, we have to make training fun. There’s a very serious component to training that includes educating ourselves on laws, proper application of deadly force, and situational awareness. But those things can be applied into a fun, lightly competitive training environment.
A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, as noted NRA instructor and part-time nanny Mary Poppins once said.
Find a way to compete at your level
It doesn’t matter how good you think you are — it matters how well you perform. This is true in firearms as well as in life. Competition forces us into a stressful position of pitting us, individually, against others without the fear of any actual loss other than pride.
The International Practical Shooting Confederation and the National Rifle Association both offer a mixture of low to high level competitive shooting events that incorporate pistols. The events are located throughout the United States and there’s always at least one within a weekend’s driving distance from where you live.
It’s not just an excuse to fire off some rounds — it’s giving your training and defensive mindset some context. And it’s fun.
For those with children or a wife or spouse, this is also an opportunity to get your family introduced to the world of firearms. It takes the idea of using a gun out of the Hollywood context of “cops and robbers” and puts real emphasis on safety, sportsmanship, and fun.
Anyone can compete at almost any level of skill.
Take an advanced pistol course
If you are serious about not just carrying a handgun but mastering the use of it, an advanced handgun course will benefit you. Advanced pistol courses are usually aimed at law enforcement and those in security-level positions but many are open to the public. Prices can vary widely depending upon the course of fire and the length of instruction.
The great thing about advanced pistol courses is they can teach you to confidently move through buildings, deal with obstacles, and think “outside the box” in a defensive gun use situation.
These are skills that don’t require you to be at an advanced fitness level or have a great deal of prior experience with pistols. You can directly apply the skills you learn in an advanced pistol course to a real life scenario you may encounter.
Typical advanced handgun courses last a day (8 hours) and many of them are offered on weekend schedules. This keeps handgun training fresh and applicable… And you’re going to have a great time.
Develop your own training course with friends
If you’re looking for a low-cost, fun way to fire off a couple rounds at the range — bring your friends in on the deal and think up a way to build some friendly competition with a custom training course.
Often times, for the cost of plywood, hearing protection, a few boxes of ammunition, and some tape, you can build your own custom training course. Throw in some timers and designate a range safety officer and you’re on your way to building something fun. If it’s a hit, think up a way to switch up the course, make it competitive, give your friends an excuse to wonder what’s going to happen next.
With this option, it always pays to take a serious look at safety prior to running the course. Always designate a range safety officer to inspect firearms, clear the range, and ensure everyone is in a safe location prior to running the course.
It’s not hard. You’ll learn a lot about what you enjoy and, furthermore, push yourself past what you thought was possible.
None of us are too good for training. It’s something we have to take seriously. With a skillset like handling a handgun, you either use it regularly or it degrades. Find a way to make it fun for you.