Americans are outdoor specialists. Across the nation we’ve created outdoor activities to suit every taste, age, or level of ability. Hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, geocaching, rock climbing, base jumping, spelunking, mushroom collecting, boating, bird watching—they all have their aficionados and they all serve the same purpose: getting people to enjoy some time outside. This is fantastic and fun, but it poses some challenges for concealed carry. So, what are the particular needs and challenges involved in CCW during outdoor activities? It’s a bit more complex than you might think.
The first challenge is legality. Your CCW permit may come with some additional restrictions when it comes to carrying during your outdoor sport of choice. It wasn’t all that long ago that CCW was prohibited in national parks, regardless of what state they were in. Currently, CCW during outdoor activities is generally regulated just like CCW anywhere else in most states—with one set of exceptions. During hunting seasons, hunters may face additional restrictions or prohibitions on CCW depending on what they are hunting for and what sort of tags and permits they’ve pulled. This gets complicated, as each state has its own regulations. All I can suggest is doing some solid research and getting in touch with your state’s department of natural resources to see what they say. Don’t take any risks; make sure you know and obey the law. The penalties can be might steep.
Now that the legal aspects are out of the way, let’s talk logistics. You’ll likely need to adapt your carry weapon and carry system to your outdoor activity of choice. Most likely you’ll be dressed differently—more layers or fewer—and moving your body in different ways—cycling, hauling a 40lb pack on your back, getting some sun on a boat, etc. Your tried-and-true EDC gun and holster may not fit the bill.
Likewise, you’ll run into differing physical needs. If you’re spending a lot of time on a body of salt water, your maintenance needs are going to change. My research indicates that there’s a lot of voodoo around this; some folks like stainless steel weapons with a thorough cleaning every evening including a spray down with WD40 (the “WD” stands for “water displacement). Other folks swear by polymer frame handguns and a similar cleaning regimen. There’s no scientific study I can find to tell us the answer, so you’ll just have to find what works for you. After that, you’ll need to consider the other factors going into this activity. For a fun day of waterskiing or geocaching, a smaller and more easily concealable weapon might be the order of the day. If you’re hiking in bear country, however, you may want to switch to a larger caliber proven to be a bear-stopper should the horrific need arise.
The final consideration is training—it always comes down to training. CCW during outdoor activities has a different set of needs, and you’ll likely want to train or practice for them should the need arise. You’re trusting your life to your skills and your gear. Make sure both are up to spec.