Most people who have obtained a concealed carry permit, or are considering getting one, probably agree that training is a good thing. Despite these good intentions, most permit holders never seek out training beyond only the mandatory course for getting the permit. Some do indeed become training junkies and pursue all manner of training. But this is not realistic for most due to time and budget constraints. With this in mind, what training courses should the motivated concealed carrier seek out, even when constrained by the realities of life?
After taking a lot of training in my life, teaching a lot of new shooters and permit holders, and working to contribute to the education of the self-defense community in general for quite a while, I offer a selection of several types of training courses that I believe will put you ahead of the curve, in order of magnitude. Here are my six suggested training goals:
1. Get CPR and Stop the Bleed Certified (At Minimum)
Shocking, I know, but my first recommendation for training has nothing to do with shooting! Statistically, the need to render medical aid is more likely for most of us than is the need to deploy a firearm in self-defense. Two worthwhile medical trainings to seek out are CPR Training and a Stop the Bleed class. I would suggest attending each of these medical trainings as a minimum, and if possible go beyond this by attending a full-day trauma class such as Tactical Combat Casualty Care, or any of the classes offered that specifically focus on controlling bleeding in an emergency situation. The need to treat someone for traumatic bleeding goes beyond just preparation for violence. Car wrecks, job site accidents, and a whole host of other possibilities pose a more likely scenario that may require such skill.
2. Read The Law of Self-Defense (At Minimum)
The majority of incidents in which well-meaning armed citizens end up going to prison for inappropriate use of force are due to a lack of understanding of self-defense law. Sometimes a self-defender does everything right and still gets in trouble. But most often, a lack of knowing the law contributes to poor decisions made during the incident. Before even getting your carry permit, you should, at minimum, thoroughly read the book The Law of Self-Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen by attorney Andrew Branca.
This book is the single best resource for understanding self-defense law. Andrew Branca also teaches classes to cover this material, but at a minimum, you need to read this book. I absolutely believe that until you read this book, or have adequate training in this area, you should not carry a gun. I firmly believe that. As an armed citizen, it is your responsibility to know the laws of the nation and your own individual state concerning the use of force.
3. Take the CCW Permit Course Requirement
Your concealed carry permit course is not gun training. Period. If done well, however, it may be a valuable introduction to key concepts in safety and legality. Depending on the state, some required courses focus primarily on self-defense law. This is the very best thing for such a class to focus on beyond basic firearm safety. Unfortunately, many concealed carriers never go on to any further training beyond this requirement. I suggest that you view this course as only your beginning in your training pursuits.
4. Take a Defensive Pistol Course from a Good Instructor
This will be the first real firearms training for most people. Seek out a good defensive pistol course, preferably a two-day course if that is feasible, by a known and respected instructor. Many good instructors travel the nation and offer these classes. A good defensive pistol class lays the foundation for proper gun handling, safety, and shooting fundamentals. A good, basic level defensive pistol course will build your skill on a solid understanding of the correct technique. Most people simply do not know how much they don’t know. Even those who have grown up with firearms present in their lives due to a hunting or casual shooting background. A good instructor will put you on course to become an accomplished practitioner. That is if you are willing to put in the work following good training.
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5. Take a Self-Defense Tactics Course
This sort of class is essential if you wish to build an understanding of how to manage potentially dangerous encounters. Most shooting courses do not delve deeply into this subject. So a dedicated class on self-defense tactics is in order. This class does not have to be firearm specific. The principles of managing unknown contacts and de-escalation are quite universal to armed or unarmed self-defense. These sorts of classes can sometimes be found as seminars offered through martial arts schools as well as shooting schools. I suggest that whatever class you attend should cover a segment on managing unknown contacts, often called MUC, as established by the well-known trainer Craig Douglas. The methodology of MUC is now taught by many instructors. It proves to be a highly effective way of managing the encroachment of potentially dangerous individuals. This training is essential for those interested in self-defense.
6. Take a Good Scenario Based Force-on-Force Course
During scenario based force-on-force courses, most people realize that real fighting is nothing like they imagined. Only when working against live and combative fellow human beings, will you realize how quickly and chaotically violence happens. The best way to experience this is by using simunitions in a controlled and professional force-on-force class. Although good training can also be done simply using airsoft guns if the instructor knows what they are doing. This sort of training is essential. Going against live training opponents as opposed to just shooting at paper targets forms a true preparedness for violence.
These six training goals will, absolutely, put you well above and beyond most people walking around with a carry permit. It will go a long way in better preparing you to face the realities of violence in a self-defense encounter. Trust me. Once you take a few good training courses, you will undoubtedly seek out more as well.