CCW Training Is Not Simply Target Shooting
If you go to the range regularly and like to fire off some rounds at paper targets – good on you. Practicing the principles of marksmanship is important. But don't confuse practicing firing your weapons as concealed carry training.
Concealed carry training encompasses a number of components not found just by plinking targets. These pieces include:
• Laws (Federal, State, Local)
• Drawing and Reholstering
• Maintaining Situational Awareness
• Shooting For Center Mass
• Changing Magazines
The basics are generally covered in a concealed carry handgun course – but practice makes perfect. And ultimately, in a high stress situation, you will resort to whatever level of training you regularly practice. That means if you practice bad ccw habits or dangerous habits, you will replicate those in a high-stress situation.
Marksmanship IS Important – Firearm Safety Is FIRST
The majority of negligent discharges occur because the person handling the firearm is not paying attention. This ties into situational awareness. A finger is left near the trigger, a firearm isn't checked to see if it's loaded, someone isn't looking to see who's around their firearm.
Even if you're an expert marksman, bullets are rather indiscriminate. They do what they're told to do. So, just as important as practicing good marksmanship and center mass shooting, you need to be practicing safe handling and situational awareness.
If you don't – you're more liable to be a cause of harm than a solution.
Drawing And Reholstering, Changing Magazines – They All Tie In
When doing your normal target practice, try to incorporate as many pieces of concealed carry into the equation. Think about an actual situation. You'll need to be paying attention to more than what's just in front of you. You will need to draw your pistol and quickly put judicious shots on target – on center mass. After the threat is neutralized, it's always a good idea to change magazines from your mag carrier. And finally, once the threat has subsided, you will need to reholster.
If any of these pieces you don't feel confident on – practice unloaded first to get the muscle memory down. And once you feel confident, and have the proper equipment which will always include a good holster – try to do these things in a controlled environment. A target range is a great place to see how all of these individual pieces come together.
Is Target Practice Still Important for Concealed Carry? Always.
No one is a born marksman. It's something that is learned through practice. Part of being an effective concealed carrier is developing confidence in your firearm and your own abilities. The next part is making sure that confidence never turns into complacency. Take every opportunity to reinforce the basics of safety.
• Always check to see if a firearm is loaded.
• Always keep your finger off the trigger until the moment you are ready to fire.
• Always check to see what's in front and behind your target.
• Avoid “tunnel vision” - i.e. just looking at the target in front of you.
• Always practice with the holster and firearm you intend to carry.
Incorporating these elements will both improve your target practice and prepare you should you need to act in a self-defense situation.
About The Author
James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.