Newcomers to the world of concealed carry ought to be practicing in their homes and in their private times outside the range. It’s a requirement to maintain muscle memory and to keep us from being lulled into a false sense of complacency. Unloading your pistol and practicing clearing rooms, drawing from your holster and reholstering, scanning and assessing — these are the bread-n-butter skills that make someone formidable in a self-defense situation.
However, none of these skills replace range time.
Range time is time spent actively discharging rounds in a safe, controlled environment where you have the benefit of practicing not just everyday skills but the basics of marksmanship. People will brag all day long about how fast they can draw and put rounds on target — but what happens when panic hits? A sudden return of bad habits is one likely response.
Bad habits can start from a lack of experience or because of a bunch of poor ones.
- Trigger control – Touching off the trigger with the pad of your index finger.
- Sight picture and sight alignment – Finding the correct balance between the two.
- Predictability – At certain ranges, you need to know how precise you are. You can always improve but knowing “at 25 yards, my shot groupings are not what I want them to be” is important information for you to know. Those shot groupings at 25 yards only get worse in a real world situation.
- Scan, Assess, Engage – The fundamentals of firearm safety merge with marksmanship when you apply scanning, assessing, and engaging as a criteria in your range time.
- Drawing from holster and engaging targets – No matter how much we think we know about drawing and firing on target, nothing slams this home more than actually doing it. If we’re not using our everyday concealed carry holsters with our favored concealed carry handguns, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. If this is the gun you carry, it should be up front and center in your practice routine.
Who knows better than you what your capabilities and limitations are? Hopefully no one. That’s why we practice at the range regularly. Whether it’s once a week or just a few times a month, these basics help keep us grounded. The basic fundamentals of firearm marksmanship and safety are the two key caveats from which all other skills must flow. Otherwise, we’re practicing dangerous tactics that have the potential to hurt us or others unintentionally.
In the concealed carry firearms community, there need never be the assumption of proficiency. Proficiency is proven by routine, not boasting. If a picture of your most recent target shot groupings is motivation, use it as that. Challenge it. Push the envelope of your proficiency while maintaining safety as a principle mindset.
Each range has different rules in terms of how broad your routine and practice can get. Nothing substitutes actual rounds moving down range to confirm what you think you know — or dispel the myth altogether that you know what you know.
Safety is always a top priority in practice. That mindset at the range will carry over should any of us be forced into the situation of having to use our concealed carry handgun to defend our lives, our family, or our property.