From Armed Services towards Concealed Carry
When I was in the Marine Corps, there were annual pistol qualifications for the M9 Beretta (P92 DA/SA). It was, in hindsight, a pretty cheesy course. The course was designed just to familiarize a servicemember with the pistol and ensure he or she could competently fire it at distance. We weren't drilled on drawing or re-holstering. We were given no specific verse on applicable federal or state ccw laws. There was no thought given to best practices for concealed carry because we weren't carrying concealed.
Come to find out, in the civilian world, that M9 pistol qualification looks an awful lot like the ubiquitous “military training” check-box that so many states allow as an exemption for concealed handgun training requirements.
It's not and it shouldn't be.
Don't Mistake Military Training For Civilian Training
One can help and assist the other (complimentary) but it is not a replacement.
No experience I've had as a concealed carrier is remotely like being a Marine. The only carry overs I can see are situational awareness, memorizing the rules of engagement, and the fundamentals of firearm safety and marksmanship. That's where it begins and ends, sadly.
Nothing reinforced this more than when I had to take a pistol qualification for the Glock 17 for a civilian job. I never fired a striker-fired pistol before in my life and had absolutely no background with Glocks. The first time firing at 15 yards, I made a solid stripe from the bulls-eye to the target's groin during the fast-fire portion. That wasn't intentional. I was unused to handling that pistol.
The instructor, a former Navy Seal, walked over after the round was complete and adjusted my hands slightly for the Glock 17. He laughed and said he could tell I was used to firing a Beretta. The next round, the problem was solved. That's the value in training.
If I had been a concealed carrier, then, I may have purchased a Glock. Glock has a good, solid reputation as being a reliable handgun. And if I thought my military experience would suffice for civilian training, I would have been under a lot of fool-hardy assumptions... Assumptions that may have resulted in serious injury to myself or others in the extremely small chance I ever needed to use it in an actual situation.
Take What You've Learned And Apply It Forward
If you ever have to take a concealed handgun course, you're going to wonder to yourself, “who are these people and why are we arming them?” The majority of the civilian populace has no experience handling guns in a real-world environment where actual lives are on the line. It's an uncomfortable thing that some service members have a hard time wrapping their heads around. That's why concealed handgun courses are set up the way they are. Just like the basic M9 qualification course for M9 pistol familiarization, it's designed to take an anybody and turn them into a basic, competent concealed carrier.
If you're able to pay attention, you're going to find that there's something new you didn't know in just about any civilian guns course you take. You will be bored through large portions of the course but the pieces that are most important – responsibility, accountability, situational awareness – you'll be able to confidently add to your previous repertoire.
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.