Equipping and Training: 4 Tips for Getting Good With Your Concealed Carry Weapon

3. Training at the range is not enough.

Image via Shutterstock, a man holds a pistol steady downrange. Image via Shutterstock, a man holds a pistol steady downrange.

Buy some "snap caps" (fake ammo) at the gun store. They are usually soft aluminum cartridges with an inert plastic primer that allows you to put them in your gun and "shoot" without anything going off. They will not harm your gun at all, and you can find them in almost any kind of caliber. Use them at first in your gun and you will be able to safely train indoors.

With these snap caps in your gun you can practice loading and unloading your firearm. Then, pretend you are out of ammunition. Quickly drop the empty shell casings (if you are using a revolver) or drop that mag (as in a semi-auto) and quickly reload. Can you do it? Practice, practice, practice.

4. Move from simple to realistic situations.

Most defensive encounters are not going to happen against a stationary target. You can start by shooting at such targets, but begin to vary your range, anywhere from 10 to 20 feet (since most encounters happen at that distance) and then work on moving targets (if your range has such things).

Shoot from various stances. Some ranges allow you to shoot only from a standing position. If you can arrange it, practice accurate shooting from sitting (as in the benchrest position), kneeling, squatting, or even prone. Of course, train slowly, and with an unloaded firearm first ("dry-fire" only if your gun manufacturer says your pistol is OK with this). Then progress with snap caps. Then finally with live ammunition. (Follow ALL gun safety rules at all times!)

Eventually work your way into more complicated, realistic surroundings. Try shooting in dim light, or with loud music or sirens or flashing lights. Practice using shooting only with your non-dominant hand (how will you fight if your shooting hand is injured?). Train in reloading only with one-hand. If you have not been taught how to do this, go to your gun store and talk to a concealed carry instructor there.

Work on safely drawing your pistol from its holster, presenting it and accurately firing two well-aimed shots. (Again, I would start with snap caps in the gun and then graduate to using live ammunition.) Go slow, then gradually work on your speed — following all the rules of gun safety, of course.

Train to draw your gun from a standing position and then move to kneeling behind a low object. Or try moving from a sitting position to a standing position. Think carefully about the numerous situations you may find yourself in. If you were seated in your car, and buckled in the seat, could you safely but quickly draw your pistol and fire? Maybe you should practice that (with snap caps, of course).

A member of the U.S. military told me once: "One thing is for sure, you will not rise to the occasion. You will fall back on your training." If you don't train-- often and realistically-- you will not be able to accurately defend yourself with a firearm.

So start training!