I’m not too big on New Year’s Resolutions, as I work goals year round, but here are a few ideas I hope you will find useful as reminders throughout the year. These ideas are relevant to all.
Note that in Florida we are referring to the Concealed Weapons License. Other states have different names for them with differing laws. Some other states are (permitless) Consititutional Carry. Florida is one of four states that allows only concealed carry, and open carry is a practice that I do not recommend anyway.
- Remember the first rule of gunfighting — have a gun. The gun on your hip or in your concealed carry purse is infinitely better than the one left sitting on your nightstand or in your safe. As they say, “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” If you apply this most important of these New Year’s Resolutions always, you will have made a huge jump in readiness. If you do not have a gun, take our course BEFORE you buy… and we can help you buy, as FFL licensed dealers.
- Treat concealed carry as a lifestyle. If you think you can predict when an attack will occur, then you are seriously mistaken. Attacks happen at all times, not just at night. They happen in all contexts, not just dark alleys or bad neighborhoods. They can find you at home or away. Don’t play this silly game of Russian Roulette. Be prepared. Carry your gun. Buy clothes to suit your concealed carry lifestyle.
- Determine what gun you will carry under various circumstances. Some people carry the same gun for all occasions and some have different guns for different applications. In all cases analyze what you are most likely to face with your gun (single attacker, gang home invasion, active shooter with semi-auto rifle, etc.) and carry a gun adequate for the task. The tiny derringer you put in your pocket while jogging is not what you would want to fight with in most circumstances. The gun that is harsh for you to shoot is not one you will seek to practice with, so it also may not be the best choice. Recognize that everything is a trade-off. Big guns fit bigger hands better and are easier to shoot accurately. They are also heavy and harder to conceal. Big bore calibers make a bigger hole but you lose ammo capacity and speed in multiple shot scenarios. Small guns are harder and harsher to shoot, but lighter and easier to carry and conceal. Small calibers are easy to shoot but you have to make more shots to achieve the same effect as one shot of a larger caliber. And don’t believe the myth of the “one-shot stop.” It is not the norm with any handgun caliber.
- Determine how you will carry and buy quality holsters. You have many positions open to you on-body, as well as off-body ones. Generally, on-body is better but circumstances might dictate otherwise. Inside-the-waistband (IWB) is easier to conceal but harder to quickly and precisely deploy your gun. Outside-the waistband (OWB) is easisier to deploy and quicker, but tends to print more (printing is when the outline of a gun shows under a shirt or other garment.). In all cases a specific quality holster is important. This would be a holster that will hold the gun if you are knocked over or in hand-to-hand combat, and which you can reholster one-handed. The cheap floppies are not useful. An off-body carry requires a device made for that purpose, such as a purse with an integral holster in a dedicated compartment. Just throwing a gun in a purse or backpack is not a good idea. By the way, this is tough and most experienced shooters will have 3-5 holsters for each gun we carry, having experimented until we found what works best.
- Choose you own carry priorities. Some reading this are waiting for me to say, above all, never “print.” But I won’t say it! Once again, there are various priorities you can have for your concealed carry, and they can change for differing circumstances. Heres what I mean… which is the most important aspect of carry? Is it ease of draw? Speed of draw? Maximum concealment? Always carrying a big gun to meet any circumstance? Ammo capacity? Comfort? Never printing? You cannot have all of these at the same time, as some are mutually exclusive. I will tell you that very few people will see moderate printing as they are not looking for a gun on you and it does not occur to them that you would be carrying. If so, they would assume you are carrying some electronic device, which is what most people carry. So, yes, conceal well but remember how fast you will have to access it in a surprise gunfight you did not start, and what kind of firepower you will want in your hands at that time.
- Be responsible and use only anti-personnel ammo. There are various configurations, but most commonly we are referring to hollow points. Hollow points are designed to minimize exiting, which is essential to responsible carry. You are responsible for every bullet you launch, including the ones that exit out the back, as training or Full Metal Jacket bullets typically will do. “Collateral damage” is not allowed.
- Always carry back up ammo, whether revolver ammo in speed loaders or speed strips, or a spare magazine. Revolvers have less ammo capacity than most semi’s, typically five or six for common self-defense revolvers. In the case of semi’s, the part of the gun most likely to fail is the magazine, and without it, all you have is a hammer. In all cases, nobody ever walked away from a gunfight lamenting, “I brought way too much ammo today.”
- Train. Train with a professional. If you are near Venice FL that should be us! Train to be as good as you want to be when attacked by a professional criminal, and no more. Seriously, if you think the mere possession of a gun does anything more than make you a liability to yourself and others, you are wrong. That same gun in the hands of a trained person who knows the gun well, shoots it well, understand the tactics of gunfighting, understands the laws pertaing to lethal self-defense and has the mindset to win, is a useful tool indeed. Training must be ongoing, as shooting is a perishable skill, and occasional practice on static bullseye targets may be good fun, but it is not itself enough to equip you for saving your life or loved ones. Nobody can say how oftern to fit every circumstance, but I would say that if you are not shooting twice monthly you are losing most of what you gain, if anything. This MUST be on your New Year’s Resolutions list. Instruction – Command Performance Firearms Security Training
- Recognize that self-defense shooting is not recreational shooting. You may not like shooting. You may not consider it fun. You may in fact hate it. IRRELEVANT. You are training to save your life and the lives of your family, which is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Train to win. If you happen to find it fun, shoot recreationally too, but your recreational shooting drills will not have much impact on your self-defense shooting skills. Tactical exercises to the extent allowed at your range are important.
- Take some martial arts or other “empty hand” fighting classes. You do not need to be a Black Belt to learn a few techniques that can save your life. First of all, not every situation warrants lethal force, so even drawing your gun would be illegal in those circumstances. Also, shooting and potentially killing someone should be a last resort when no other means is available. Finally, 57% of the time you will be fighting hand-to-hand while attempting to unholster your gun. Without those skills, you are at a serious disadvantage. In the Venice FL area I highly recommend Revolutionary Martial Arts and Fitness (https://www.revolutionarymartialartsfitness.com/).
- Support the shooting organizations that make this lifestyle possible. Some of my favorites are the NRA (National Rifle Association; I can help you join over the phone); Gun Owners of America (https://www.gunowners.org/); Jews Can Shoot (https://jewscanshoot.org/); and Second Amendment Foundation (https://www.saf.org/).
- Join the USCCA. The United States Concealed Carry Association is a membership organization which supports self-defense gun training and includes self-defense insurance with membership. One of the leading programs out there, it features ADVANCE payments for attorneys and legal expenses, unlike the reimbursement programs. With the likelihood of being arrested in FL for a shooting at about 50% regardless of guilt, and the average retainer for a gun attorney at $35,000, you need this. We keep the top level of membership (https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/uscca-info/guide/affiliate-partner/concealed-carry/?tID=6052590b57265&aff_id=18246) (https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/referral?id=MDAxajAwMDAwMTdRdkdlQUFL&tID=5bf43111b0cd6)
If you begin to apply these New Year’s Resolutions immediately, you will find your level of preparedness increases tremendously, and you will realize what you did not know you did not know.
Paul DeClark, Chief Instructor