CCW Class vs Training

CCW classes have one objective; to teach you the laws regarding carrying a concealed weapon and, depending on the class you take, that you can safely and successfully unload, load, and fire your weapon.

Too often people will take a CCW class, strap a pistol to their hip, and then hit the streets thinking they’re good to go. That’s just not the case. True, they know where they can and can’t carry as well as when they can and can’t use their weapon, but that’s really about it.

Just as with anything else you do in life, using a gun properly takes practice (lots and lots of practice). There’s a common saying among first responders and it applies beautifully to CCW; we don’t rise to the level of the situation but rather fall to the level of our training. In any emergency situation, our brains kick into survival mode and resort to doing what they know well. Those who carry weapons need to make sure using those weapons properly and skillfully is what their brains know well.

We’re not talking about spending hundreds of hours taking every online class you can find or spending entire weekends at tactical schools that teach you how to breach residences and take out terrorists or zombies. Instead, we’re talking about finding a great local range and spending time there using your weapon, working on the basics so that when you find yourself in a deadly force situation, your brain will default to what it knows from the thousands of rounds you’ve put on target at the range; plant your feet, draw your weapon, point, and shoot.

The best place to start is with some sort of ‘intro to pistols’ class. It doesn’t matter if it’s NRA approved or just something offered to beginners by your local gun shop or club; the class will give you the basic info you need to handle your weapon safely. Many also teach you the basics of shooting itself such as stances, aiming, and trigger control.

Once you have this basic knowledge, practice! While there are some commercial shooting ranges available, your dollars will probably be better spent at a local gun club. For the same price as a few hours at a commercial range, you’ll be able to get an annual membership with unlimited use at a local gun club.

I chose to make hitting the range a weekly thing with my wife and kids. Not only do we work on the basics that we’ll need if we ever have to use our weapons, but shooting is a ton of fun and a great bonding opportunity. Each week we work on a different distance, scenario, or drill, developing the skills we’ll need in a deadly force situation. The more we practice and training we do, the better we’ll be when our brains have to fall back to the level of our training.

Think about it this way – who would you prefer drive the ambulance that’s rushing you to the hospital in a life and death situation? A 15-year-old who just passed the written test to get his temps, or the 40-year-old who has been driving for 24 years and has taken courses designed to give him the skills needed to drive emergency vehicles? Nothing beats experience, education, and practice!

The idea of heading to the range or a gun club may be a little uncomfortable because you fear embarrassing yourself by being a very inexperienced shooter who has dared step into the realm of the shooting Gods. Let’s put that idea to bed right now. Even Olympic level shooters had to pick up a gun and fire a round for the first time. Everyone starts at the exact same place.

Those who frequent ranges and gun clubs remember starting out themselves; you’ll face no judgement at the range or club. Instead, what you’ll find is encouragement, a wealth of knowledge, and people who will gladly do anything they can to help you grow and improve. Don’t hesitate to watch them, ask questions, and take any advice they may offer you.

To circle back to the beginning, taking a CCW class is not training; it is a certification class. Getting your permit isn’t the end but rather just the beginning.