What You Need to Know Before Your Concealed Carry Class


Shooter practices tactical shooting in an Idaho Falls, ID gun range, Nov. 18, 2014. (B Brown / Shutterstock.com)

If you’re one of the thousands of people who have decided to take your self-protection seriously and apply for a concealed carry permit, congratulations, you’re in good company. The ranks of people who have decided to stop being a victim and become their own first responder are growing every day, and carrying a concealed weapon is an empowering act that signifies you are adult enough to take charge of your personal safety and the safety of your loved ones.

For many people, though, a concealed carry class is their first step into the world of firearms training, and as such, they arrive at the class with no understanding of what lies ahead and how they should prepare for a concealed carry class.

A concealed carry class is a permitting class, not a training class. A concealed carry class gives you as much training for the realities of carrying a concealed weapon as your driving test gave you about dealing with your morning commute. Get some training after your concealed carry class, because you are not going to rise to the occasion, you’re going to sink to your lowest level of training. The NRA Personal Protection Inside The Home course is an excellent class that will give you the basics of defending your life with a firearm and is also one of the few training classes that is recognized by other instructors nationwide.

Some other things to consider before your first class are:

  • Think about how you’re going to carry your gun. There’s a list of pros and cons about the two most-common holster styles over here to use as a starting point for your decision, and also consider the fact that a pistol is just part of your self-defense plan.
  • How are you going store your gun in your home? Who is going to have access to the gun? How are you going to keep it safe from unauthorized access? I am a huge fan of quick-access gun safes because I’ve found they are just as easy to access as a gun in a bedside table drawer, yet keep your gun secure from prying little fingers.
  • Buy a copy of Andrew Branca’s The Law of Self DefenseThis is a no-brainer. This book should be required reading for anyone who wants to be in charge of their own safety, not just concealed carry permit holders, because it lays out, in layman’s terms, what legal challenges you may face if you need to defend your life.
  • Consider purchasing concealed carry insurance. I belong to the Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network because I found that the benefits they offer cannot be matched by other programs. With top-rank consultants like Marty Hayes, Massad Ayoob, and Dennis Tueller (yes, that Tueller) and a reimbursement program that starts from Day One (if needed), I think they’re the best around when it comes to legal help for legal gun owners.
  • Practice situational awareness. This is a hard skill to define, but essentially, it’s the art and science of paying attention to what you’re paying attention to. Is there anything out of place in your immediate vicinity, and if so, why is it out of place? What are you options if what’s out of place starts to affect you? What can you do to prevent it from affecting you? We are born with the gift of fear: Use it wisely.

And finally, relax and have fun. You’re among friends who want you to be safe, and want to help you arrive at that goal. Remember that, and the rules of gun safety, and you’ll do just fine.

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  1. James Madison Member
    James Madison

    The recommendation for purchasing insurance is wise advice. If you use, you will find yourself quickly overwhelmed with legal issues and need legal advice right away, regardless of the circumstances.

    • #1
  2. BrentB67 Inactive

    Texas Law Shield is an excellent firm and offers insurance in other states.

    • #2
  3. Quietpi Member

    I disagree with your statement re: taking training classes after taking the CCW class.  I highly recommend taking at least one class before.  Most CCW classes are designed for people who, at minimum, know how to safely handle and “run” their firearm(s).  While I have not encountered this, I know people who have: people show up for their CCW class with their first firearm purchase, never fired, in its original box.  The trainers did what they could, but in some cases told the individual that they could not possibly pass the class.  They were given a “rain check” for the CCW class, and advised to get some training first.

    Also, for somebody that new to firearms, a class, before even purchasing a first firearm, can help the newbee to figure out what s/he should buy.

    One other thing: no matter what, DO NOT STOP practicing and getting more training.  The CCW class should be neither the beginning NOR THE END!

    • #3
  4. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines

    Quietpi: I highly recommend taking at least one class before.

    Not just for folks who are new to firearms.  It’s amazing how much a supposedly experienced hand knows that ain’t so.

    In any event, a structured refresher is never a bad idea.

    Quietpi: DO NOT STOP practicing and getting more training.

    Indeed.  It’s necessary–and a legal requirement–to fly so many hours per quarter in order to keep a pilot license current.  It’s not always a legal requirement for a CCW, or for just keeping a weapon in the house, but it’s a strongly common sense need.

    Eric Hines

    • #4
  5. Quietpi Member

    Actually, I’m certain that Kevin agrees with us.

    • #5
  6. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton

    Quietpi: I highly recommend taking at least one class before.

    I took an NRA First Steps class and competed in a couple of USPSA matches before my CCW class, but my experience was unique in that I saw competition as an essential part of effective concealed carry right from the very start.

    If nothing else, knowing and abiding by the rules of good gun safety before you walk into the CCW class gives the instructor one less thing to worry about.

    • #6
  7. Byron Horatio Inactive
    Byron Horatio

    I spent a number of years balancing safe storage of a firearm and accessibility. I really didn’t like living like some mobster with guns hidden behind toilets.

    Thankfully I found this site:


    • #7
  8. Lensman Inactive

    I totally agree about basic firearms training before getting into a CCW class. In my state, training is not required prior to applying for a “carry license.” It’s still a good idea to get the training ASAP and to master basic marksmanship and pistol handling skills.

    Shooting competitively is an even better idea once you master the basics. Punching holes in paper on a bulls eye target while standing on a firing line versus drawing from holster, moving and shooting “on the clock” in an “action pistol” sport (e.g. IDPA, USPSA, etc.) are two different skill-sets. Guess which one is going to be more useful if you have to defend yourself? Of course you should be competent at the first before you start the second. (BTW, I would not characterize the photo above as depicting “tactical shooting” just because of the silhouette target.)

    Re: home defense, you can search on Amazon.com for shoebox size “gun vaults” that have electronic locks. They can fit on the shelf of a night stand and with a few pushes of five buttons in a pre-defined pattern (set by the owner) you can get immediate access to a loaded pistol. There is also a physical lock & key if you forgot the combination. The model I own has backup batteries and runs off the AC (assuming no power failure) 24/7.

    It’s not that expensive (<$200) to get a small safe at Home Depot to hold pistols that are not being kept handy for immediate use. It will weigh over 100 lbs and can fit in a closet, so most burglars will think twice about trying to haul it off with plans to later break it open off-premises. For rifles you will probably end up at Cabella’s or other sporting goods stores looking at gun safes.

    • #8
  9. Eeyore Member

    Lensman: Re: home defense, you can search on Amazon.com for shoebox size “gun vaults” that have electronic locks. They can fit on the shelf of a night stand and with a few pushes of five buttons in a pre-defined pattern (set by the owner) you can get immediate access to a loaded pistol.

    My brother had a Gun Vault bolted to the shelf of the night stand. The robbers just ripped the shelf out of the night stand.

    • #9
  10. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann

    I have had a concealed carry permit for many years. More recently I joined an organization which I believe should be an essential for anyone who carries a conceal weapon, The Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network. Not only does this organization provide a network of attorneys experienced in defending clients involved in justified shootings, it also provides ongoing education in self-defense issues with a monthly newsletter and DVDs of lectures by such leading lights as Massad Ayoob and John Farnam, both of whom sit on the board of ACLDN.

    Having a gun and the skill to use it is only a small part of the issue. Understanding what the consequences of that action will be, even when fully justified, is extremely sobering. The DVDs and the ongoing education that they provide can be evidence used in your favor during a trial or hearing following a shooting.

    There are a multiplicity of issues covered in the DVD which even the most comprehensive Concealed Carry course cannot hope to cover in any great detail. Also, it should be remembered that skills and knowledge tend to erode with time which makes membership in an organization like this one with its monthly newsletter and yearly training materials something I consider as important as the weapon I carry.

    • #10
  11. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann

    For those interested, here is a link:


    • #11
  12. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton

    Eugene Kriegsmann: a monthly newsletter and DVDs of lectures by such leading lights as Massad Ayoob and John Farnam, both of whom sit on the board of ACLDN.

    In all seriousness, the DVD’s alone are worth the price of admission, with Marc MacYoung’s talk on pre-violence indicators one of the best I’ve ever seen on knowing who might mean you harm and who is harmless.

    • #12
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