Obtaining your concealed carry weapon permit is a right of passage for many gun owners. Having your permit will allow you to carry a concealed firearm in most states without special permission. While most CCW classes will teach you everything you need to know about safely and legally carrying a firearm, preparing for your class at home without ammo can be a great way to speed up the process. Below are some things to expect from a typical CCW class, as well as tried-and-true practices you can use to get the most out of your firearm training.
Concealed Carry 101
A concealed carry weapon permit (CCWP) allows individuals to carry a weapon (typically a handgun) in public, either loaded or unloaded, in a concealed manner on their person. Obtaining a permit is a different process in every state, though there is reciprocity between many of them. In other words, a CCW permit in Arizona may be honored in Texas and vice versa. No matter where you are, it’s important to keep abreast of your state’s regulations.
Why Should I Get a Concealed Carry Permit?
In some states, you are not legally required to obtain a permit in order to concealed carry. These states have “constitutional carry” laws which allow for any citizen to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Montana and Kentucky are just a few of the states with constitutional carry laws. Other states such as Texas, Nevada, Oregon or Colorado require permits.
*For the full list of states with constitutional carry laws, see the end of this blog.
The primary benefit to having a CCWP is for self-defense and defense of others. It’s always better to have a firearm that you are comfortable with and know how to safely operate, but may never use. The other benefit of a CCWP class is that most of them will go over legal issues which make you a more informed carrier. Understanding the legal ramifications of using your weapon and the situations where it is appropriate can help you react better in dangerous situations. Many states which require permits (i.e. not constitutional carry states) will also require range time in order for you to obtain a permit.
How Can I Practice for my CCW Class?
There are various techniques you can use to train for a CCW class ahead of time. If you are a new gun owner (especially if you haven’t yet been trained in using your firearm), it’s best to avoid training with live ammunition. Safety should always be first priority as you get to know your weapon.
Dry firing is the act of pulling the trigger with the chamber empty and no magazine loaded. In essence, it is used to practice trigger pulling (or trigger manipulation). While this may sound like a useless skill, the relatively simple act of pulling a trigger can move the barrel of the weapon ever so slightly off the mark. By practicing dry firing, you can get used to this feeling and make adjustments without wasting ammo.
While pointing the firearm in a safe direction, pull the trigger while maintaining your sights on your target. The goal is to see very minimal movement before, during or after the trigger pull. You will hear a metallic click of the hammer falling on the empty chamber.
Before attempting any dry-fire practice, ensure that the magazine is completely removed from the firearm and that the chamber has been cleared and is empty. DO NOT keep any live ammunition in the same room. A key to firearms safety is to always assume that a weapon is loaded and that it needs to be cleared and examined every time you pick it up. Developing good habits from day one will ensure that you are always handling firearms safely.
Dry-Fire Draw Practice
Similar to dry-fire practice, rehearsing your draw from an open or concealed holster can be helpful as you develop greater control over your firearm. This drill will allow you to practice a smooth and safe draw from wherever your gun is concealed. One way is to place a small piece of normal printer paper on a wall around 15 ft or 5 yards away from any obstructions or other people. Work on pulling the firearm out of concealment, getting your sights on target and then dry-firing. Over time, your draw will become faster, smoother and more accurate.
There isn’t much use in having a concealed carry weapon if you are unable to react quickly to a situation and get sights on target with accuracy. In some situations, you will only have time to react and fire a single round before the threat escalates - which is why dry-fire and draw practice are so crucial.
Firearm Safety and Smart Concealed Carry: the Bottom Line
Prior to even purchasing a firearm or ammo, it is important that you understand how to safely store, handle and operate a firearm. Most local gun ranges offer beginners classes which focus on safe firearm handling procedures. Safety should always be the first priority when handling any firearm.
The more you’re able to drill, both in and out of your CCW class, the better you’ll be prepared both for threats and safe everyday use. If you’re a new gun owner, congratulations and best of luck - we’ll see you out at the range!
*States with Constitutional Carry in 2021
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota (residents only; concealed carry only), Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah (effective May 5, 2021), Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming