Have you got a concealed carry permit? I've spent the last week talking to people who do, as I had a hunch I wanted to test. Some were friends I questioned, others are friends of friends, and what I learnt was a little shocking.

Despite having the ability to carry a firearm with them, most permit holders aren't doing it. In fact, most usually only leave their firearms in their car, or have it with them if they're headed somewhere a little dodgy.

To me, that's crazy. What's the point of having a concealed carry license if you don't actually carry your firearm with you? If you're confronted, and don't have the ability to defend yourself, things could get very dangerous, very quickly.

If you think the world is dangerous enough to warrant getting a concealed carry permit, don't leave your gun at home. That's step one. From here, there's a few more tips and techniques you ought to practice if you really want to keep yourself safe.

Get used to your holster

Make sure you try a range of different holsters before you buy, as I've got a drawer full that just aren't quite right, so I never use them. Once you get it home, it may seem a little silly, but put your holster on and start wearing your gun around the house. The trick is to learn how your gun is going to react when you move around, as you don't want to accidentally expose your weapon to anyone around you, or have it drop to the floor. It's about being proactive, and getting comfortable with your new setup.

Practice the quick draw

Your firearm won't do you any good if you can't get to it when you need it. Perhaps it's buried in the bottom of your handbag, or you're not yet comfortable getting it out of the holster. These are techniques you ought to practice, so when the SHTF you can be ready at a moment's notice. Work on developing a strong grip, focusing and drawing your aim, and how to safely re-secure your firearm back in its holster once the incident is over.

Work on your rapid fire aim

There's no point being a perfect shot if it takes you a good 30 seconds to aim and line up a target. What you want to practice is quickly drawing your gun and taking aim. Your shots don't need to be hitting the perfect center, but they should be relatively accurate. The key is finding the balance where you're able to effectively defend yourself, quickly. There's no point drawing your gun if you're going to shoot blind and miss your target completely. To improve here, my advice is to speak to your local gun range and spend a little time with a qualified trainer who can help you work on your technique.

Know your way around your gun

Being able to pull the trigger is just the start. How fast can you reload? Do you know what to do if your gun misfires or malfunctions? What about your accuracy when you're shooting with your off-hand? You should practice a wide range of different scenarios with a qualified trainer, so you get comfortable with your gun and are able to use it confidently, no matter what.

Be comfortable using and shooting from cover

Situations can change in seconds, and should you ever find yourself facing an active shooter there's really two outcomes. Either you've got enough warning that you were able to escape (obviously the ideal preference), or you're stuck taking cover behind anything thick and large enough to stop a bullet. Before you find yourself trapped, it's a good idea to take an offensive shooting course to learn how to properly position yourself to shoot back, and move between cover. You need to be comfortable gripping your firearm in different positions, and being able to take aim and shoot from a variety of different positions.

Multitasking at night with a flashlight

Now I don't know about you, but I usually find bad things happen at night. That's when the bad people come out, but it doesn't give you a right to shoot at anything that moves. You need to be able to properly identify your target before you take your aim, as you don't ever want to shoot a loved one, a neighbor, or anyone else by mistake. My advice is to carry a flashlight with you, like one of our StrikeLights, and learn how to multitask by shining the light with your support hand while still firing accurately with the other.

Improve your accuracy at a distance

Even though you're most likely going to be up close and personal with an attacker in a confrontation, there's always a chance you're going to need to make a longer shot. Perhaps you need to take out an active shooter who is still far from you, or there's a threat coming and you need to take it out fast. With a handgun, it's tricky, and even seasoned shooters can struggle with their aim as the distance increases. Here, you need to target their torso, and spend time at the range working on your accuracy when you're at least 25 to 30 yards from the target. When the SHTF you'll be glad you took the time to work on this.

Learn to cope with stressful situations

To ensure you're prepared for anything, you've got to start practicing scenario-based tactics. Of course, these need to be done with qualified trainers and never with live rounds, as they are some of the most challenging tasks you can imagine. Ever see the army teams breaking in and clearing a room? That's scenario-based training. And what it teaches you is how to react, and make decisions with only a split-seconds thought. Training your mind to prepare for these kind of situations will enable you to react faster than you ever thought possible.

Just remember, having a concealed carry license isn't going to do you any good if you never have your gun on you. If you want to be able to effectively defend yourself against any opponent, you need to be armed, but you also need to practice and prepare so you don't freeze up, or make the wrong call when it matters most.

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