I had a fantastic concealed carry teacher and something he told our class stuck with me. "Carrying hidden is an enormous responsibility that shouldn't be taken lightly. You need to practice carrying concealed and drill regularly. Otherwise, you could be a danger to yourself and others."
Naturally, I've made some concealed carry mistakes; the key is identifying errors when making them and adjusting. Here are three of the most common concealed carry foul-ups and intel on how to avoid them.
Not Carrying Regularly
You went through the training and are certified to tote a gun concealed, so why don’t you always carry when and where you are legally allowed to do so?
I made this mistake a lot early on. I would carry one day but not the next. I would go to the grocery store with my gun for two days straight, but I didn’t remember to take it when my family ate at a restaurant. This is terrible practice.
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As with anything, the more you do it, the more confidence you build. There are numerous documented cases where people licensed to carry didn't have their handgun with them when a deadly-force situation occurred.
Some people complain about the discomfort of carrying concealed, noting that specific holsters rub their side or hip. Others say their gun needs to be bigger, smaller, heavier or lighter. Yikes. None of the above is an excuse. Get a gun that fits you and a holster that holds it comfortably. Test different carry positions until you find one that is right for you.
Not Knowing Your Body Type
My wife of 20-plus years had a heck of time carrying concealed for a long time. She always wanted her handgun on her person—not in a purse. She is a small-framed shooter, and it was difficult for her to find stylish clothing that would conceal her handgun.
This was mostly my fault, and I should have taken advantage of the many micro 9mm offerings on the market. Once we made the switch, she could carry more comfortably, and an untucked shirt easily concealed the grip.
Plus, with the changing seasons, she found she could conceal the handgun while wearing pants and a scoop neck short sleeve t-shirt in the spring, shorts and a button-down sleeveless cami top is summer, and during the fall and winter, a hoodie worked fine.
If you need help to hide your handgun entirely, evaluate your body style, and then investigate handguns that will fit you and stay concealed with different clothing options.
Be sure to practice regularly wearing the clothing you'll wear while carrying. It does little good from a carry standpoint, to go to the range dressed in clothing you'll never wear out to eat, to the store, etc. Practice in the clothing you'll be wearing and be sure to go through your entire process from drawing to pressing out to firing to re-holstering.
Failure To Launch
My son is a talented basketball player. He's good, but he could be incredible. My other son is less naturally talented but works twice as hard, and when it's game time, the thousands of extra shots and drills help the latter son excel.
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I'm not bashing either of my kids, and I love them both to death. I'm only stating a fact. The more repetitions you put in, no matter the activity, the better you will be, especially in pressure situations.
That said, one of the biggest mistakes is not practicing with and knowing the ins and outs of your carry gun. Scientists say it takes 21 days to create or break a habit. I strongly encourage shooters to carry daily, especially for the first three weeks after getting certified. I realize getting to the range for 21 days in a row is borderline impossible, but when you do go, take plenty of ammunition and drill, drill, and then drill some more. It will take thousands of reps to become proficient and accurate with your handgun. Don't skip steps. Do the work, and God forbid when the time comes, you'll be able to stay focused, under control, and execute.