Sufficient CCW Training - What's the Magic Number
In many states, it's simply a right of passage. Being a responsible gun owner and citizen allows many to pursue a resident concealed carry permit in states such as Arizona, Oklahoma, and plenty others. But is that truly enough? At what point do we decide who is and isn't qualified to carry a concealed firearm?
This is really a question posed out there for those who have been long-time gun owners and users. It's common place we'll go on YouTube and see which idiot of the week decides to use a gun – but with so many accidental deaths stemming from improper firearm use, the line has to be drawn somewhere.
Training is an Essential Component for CCW
Before a person even receives a concealed carry permit, many states require they complete at least a rudimentary training course on concealed carry procedures. This ensures that the person is able to confidently and safely draw their weapon, shoot a target, and put it back in the holster. Additional steps sometimes include drop-handling and courses on legal protocol for when it is and is not justified to draw a weapon.
This comes up as recent deaths due to accidental discharge are a big problem amongst both gun activists and proponents. More importantly, some states – such as New Hampshire – are trying to increase the criteria for who can and cannot have a concealed carry permit.
Regardless of where one may stand on the issue, one thing is certain: ccw training is a central piece. Being accustomed to using a pistol or sidearm requires practice. One can't rightfully expect to draw a pistol the very first time and reliably put rounds down range. This is a skill acquired with time and proficiency. It's a way to acclimatize individuals to the realities of drawing and using their own sidearms to protect themselves and other people.
How Much CCW Training Is Required For The License?
Nearly everyone agrees that some sort of CCW training is necessary and proper before a person should start carrying a gun. The question is how much? Should it be a certain number of minimum hours? A certain minimum amount of information? Or should concealed carrying be like maintaining a professional license, where a certain amount of training needs to be done every year or so?
Most states have a training requirement, though the training requirement varies from state-to-state, just like concealed carry reciprocity laws vary.
Some states' training requirements are more exhaustive than others, including classroom instruction, range instruction and a qualification shoot. Other states require much less, and in fact something like a bare minimum is the rule rather than the exception.
The typical minimum amount of training is a basic firearms course such as the NRA Basic Pistol course, which actually satisfies many states' CCW training requirements. Similar courses are out there as well that will likewise satisfy the training requirement, including the majority of hunter's safety courses.
How Much Concealed Carry Training Should A Person Get?
State requirements are one thing; how much concealed carry training should a person really get?
This is a point of contention. Some people disagree on certain points, some people think the state mandated minimums are good enough. However, those minimum courses leave a lot to be desired, which is why so much private concealed carry training instructors and operations are in business.
At minimum, a good concealed carry training course needs to impart the basics of firearms safety. A good course will also teach the student the basics of how firearms work and how to handle them - handguns and otherwise - so that a person is aware of how a gun works and therefore how it is operated, and operated safely.
A good concealed carry training course should also cover the legal aspects of self-defense and firearms usage. While a person is legally authorized to carry a firearm by a license, shooting someone or worse, killing them, is NOT. It is only excusable - note that that is excusable, not permitted, meaning that you can be absolved of responsibility rather than you having a right to something - under certain circumstances.
Those circumstances are very limited. At minimum, you need to have a credible, reasonable fear of death or crippling injury if you do not shoot. In essence, it has to be demonstrable in a court of law not only that you had no choice, but that most people in your shoes would have done the same thing.
Concealed carry training should also include a range portion. A person who is authorized by law to carry a gun should know not only how it works, but also how to use it. You need to be able to put a round more or less where you intend it to go, so some basic marksmanship training should be included.
Shooting safety should be included in that instruction.
A student that isn't able to demonstrate at least basic proficiency in handling and shooting a firearm has no business carrying a gun.
Some believe tactics, draw practice and other things should be included in concealed carry training. These are also good things to include as well.
Concealed Carry Training as a Responsibility
The basic concept is simple. People aren't always as nice as they should be. And when violence erupts, it's a welcome sight to see a person with a knowledge of firearms and their use be able to come to the aid of themselves and others in an efficient and timely manner.
One thing is certain – in an uncertain world, more well trained concealed carriers is a deterrent against would-be attackers.
At what level do you require your skills to be at for you to feel comfortable with carrying concealed?
At what point do you decide you are ready to take on the responsibility of carrying concealed?
Tell us about your ideas in the comments section below.
About The Author
James England is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.