We previously covered some personal opinions on such concealed carry topics as holster requirements, self-defense options, among some others. In this second article, we will continue to cover some concealed carry techniques and attitudes that have worked well for me, and I hope will be useful to our readers. Please chime in at the bottom if you have anything not mentioned that has been of particular use to you.
Using a Handicapped Stall to Adjust
Often I’ve found myself carrying in public and the need to adjust my holster becomes apparent because it has adjusted too much one way or another and it can at times become unbearable. Obviously, I need somewhere private and secure to perhaps undo my belt or move the holster entirely, but where? In my opinion, using a public handicapped bathroom stall (or a private bathroom) is sometimes the best option out there. The alternative would be using a toilet stall in a public bathroom and that might bring unwarranted attention if executed incorrectly. A handicapped bathroom can usually be locked from the inside and is completely private to a single person. The chances of an actual handicapped person wanting to use the same stall at the same time as you are extremely rare, and if you get a knock on the door, simply hurry up and respectfully leave. There isn’t a legal regulation about an able-bodied person using a handicapped stall, just that less able-bodied folks obviously take priority. On the same token, when using a regular bathroom stall for its obvious reasons, make it muscle memory to not drop your pants all the way to your ankles and make it a habit of only dropping them to your knees. It may sound ludicrous but you have to remember you know have a handgun in your waistline, and if that should drop to your ankles, now anyone simply noticing your shoes from outside probably has a good view of your handgun as well.
Magazine and Brass Check
When you get in your car, do you bother to make sure your gas tank is filled up? Then why shouldn’t you ensure that you have a loaded round in your best insurance policy when it comes to armed violence? These are good habits to get into, ensuring your handgun has a round chambered, and a full magazine. Maybe you were cleaning your firearm and put a different magazine in, maybe you just came back from the range and didn’t load up afterward. Whatever the case may be, it is your responsibility to know the condition of your handgun at all times. Obviously this doesn’t mean constantly checking the rounds in your magazine throughout the day to see if the bullet fairy has whisked them away, but at the start of the day, do a simple brass check by pulling the slide slightly to the rear, visually confirming a round is there, pull out the magazine, ensure it is loaded to capacity or whatever preferred load you desire. The Youtube channel Active Self Protection recently was talking about how SERPAs are “Hot Garbage” in which the host specifically mentioned a case where a police officer couldn’t draw his weapon when engaged in an incident because of a holster malfunction. My question is, why did it take him that long to figure out his SERPA’s retention button was jammed? If he had simply checked his firearm before shift, this situation could have been averted.
A Loaded Handgun is Drawn for a Specific Purpose
The time to practice your draw is not when carrying with a round in the chamber, or even a loaded magazine inserted. It is extremely tempting (I’ll admit, I’m guilty of this too) when trying on a new holster or putting it on for a day at work, but the importance here is both safety minded and psychological. Addressing the safety issue, having a negligent discharge while at home in front of a mirror can at most be the reason for a tragic death, and at least be an embarrassing hole in the wall that should never have been there. These results are magnified when in a private room at a public event when carrying and you go to a restroom to practice your draw. This is exactly what snap caps, dummies, and what proper clearing procedures are for. In addition to live fire drills at the range. The second component of this is psychological. Essentially, get into the mindset that the only time that firearm is going to clear the holster is a necessary adjustment, or to be used in self-defense. Having that mindset will help you treat the firearm safely throughout the day.
Training for Realism
One of my recent articles caught some flak for suggesting that folks who don’t get to the range that often stick with ball ammunition for their CCW piece. I think my point with that article was confusing among readers. But what I was trying to explain is that I see a very large tendency for folks to have expensive hollow point ammunition loaded in their carry firearm, go the range, train with ball “practice” ammunition, then insert their “carry” magazine afterward. The problem I see is that you aren’t actually training with what you would be using to defend yourself. In addition, you’ve got the same rounds in the same magazine possibly over many months, possibly the very same round being constantly ejected and chambered to the point where it might become unreliable when the time comes. Not to mention that same magazine’s springs aren’t getting uncompressed. I realize firearms technology has come a long way in terms of magazine manufacture. But the fact remains that it is important to actually train with the same ammunition you are carrying and to constantly be cycling rounds out of the firearm through range sessions.
Going to a square indoor range, with lane dividers and paper targets on pulleys is not my ideal training environment and I don’t believe it should be yours either. Life doesn’t happen inside a lane, it happens in the open, inside a house, a mall, a restaurant, a car. I understand that in some cases, especially for those that live in urban centers sometimes an indoor lane range is all that is available. If that is the case try to find alternatives. IDPA competitions are excellent avenues for training if there isn’t an alternative. Make it a point to get outside of the city, a range with berms where you can work on various drills over a flat piece of ground. Maybe even a friend who has property in the countryside where you can shoot legally and safely. Work hard on inducing stress, get your heart rate up before engaging a target, work with steel targets, have a friend time you, make sure to incorporate reloads and malfunctions with dummy rounds. There is an excellent article on Breach Bang Clear that makes the point where the author observed a group of individuals training for weeks, concentrating on their marksmanship. But when it came time to go live in a shoot house or with markers and role players, the same group of individuals reverted to not even using their sights. The authors reasoning for this was that they weren’t working with that same stress level in their training, so when it came time to actually employ their marksmanship, it went out the window because they weren’t acclimatized for it.
On this same token, something that I feel we undertrain for is low light environments. We spend half of our lives in the dark, yet most of our shooting is in the day. Why is that? This is something we need to work towards and become proficient at. The dark complicates things, from reloads to malfunctions, to even acquiring and properly identifying a target.