The Elderly and Firearms – Considerations to take into account
The old adage, “With age brings wisdom”, apparently has basis according to a recent study completed by the University Geriatrics Institute of Montreal in Quebec. But does this extend to senior citizens and their ability to properly handle a concealed carry firearm? While perhaps wisdom is a gift of experience, so isn't decreased mobility, diminished flexibility, and motor reflexes.
Before getting started, let's just throw out a concept entirely: senior citizens shouldn't have a concealed carry weapon. First off, this is a dangerous, illogical practice. Secondly, no better population is ironically better served with the ability to use a firearm than those whom would be preyed upon by younger and less scrupulous folks.
And lastly, have we forgotten about shooting legend Jerry Miculek? If you have – check out this video below.
Worthy of note: Jerry has been doing professional pistol shooting for over thirty years. That type of skill isn't developed overnight. However, it's never late to start or conversely to reignite those skill sets. Practice, as another old adage goes, does make perfect.
Let's take a look at three basic issues surrounding age and firearms and see if there are some easy remedial exercises to keep the mind and aim sharp through the golden years.
Diminished Flexibility and CCW
Issue: Diminished flexibility is a major concern among many senior citizen concealed carry permit holders. Whether due to pre-existing injuries or conditions or simply the wear and tear on joints and muscle tendons, not having a full range of motion is a big obstacle in taking aim and putting rounds on target.
Solution: Know your range of motion. If placing a pistol at eye level is out of the question at certain angles and postures – train to improve or maintain a position that can be held.
Instinctive Firing From the Hip
If it's painful or not possible to raise a concealed carry pistol to eye level, it's still possible to train for instinctive firing. This is the practice of training the eye to coordinate with the hand subtracted from a clear line of sight. To be fair, this is not a technique that should be attempted unless clearly practiced.
CCW and Reduced Reaction Time
Issue: For those who are concerned about a reduced reaction time - shooting first isn't as important as hitting the target. For those who seem to feel that reduced reaction time as a product of age is a risk – true. It's always nice to be like Jerry Miculek and put rounds down range on the bullseye in record time. However, young or old – age matters little. Getting a pistol out and putting rounds down range in record time means nothing if none of the rounds hit.
Solution: If reduced reaction time is a major factor, it's recommended you switch to an outside the waistband concealed carry holster. It's a simple adjustment that requires a lot less hassle when taking a pistol out of its holster. But more importantly than whether or not an inside the waistband or outside the waistband concealed carry pistol holster is used is whether or not you continue to train with it. Age makes little difference when the fundamentals of marksmanship and safety are applied.
Concealed Carry and Mobility Impairment
Issue: It's harder to keep a concealed carry pistol about when a person is severely limited in range of motion. For those in mobility scooters and walkers, maintaining a concealed carry weapon gets increasingly more difficult.
Solution: Know your capabilities and physical limitations for concealed carry. An honest assessment of one's own personal abilities is the best indicator of knowing how to respond to a situation. Being in a mobility scooter, wheelchair, or other mobility assistance device is by no means a disqualifier from maintaining and using a concealed carry weapon. While it is extremely recommended that one consider an outside the waistband concealed carry holster when mobility is limited, ultimately it comes down to training. If a person is able to train with a weapon that person has a better chance of being able to properly employ it if the need should arise.
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.