By Smitty of ONE
I am a regular guy with a family, mortgage and dog living in suburban Kansas City, Missouri. I have limited experience shooting at the local range with my sons, nothing more. This is my short experience with the decision, process and outcome of obtaining my CCW license . . .
The idea to obtain a CCW came in the aftermath of some horrible tragedy in America, I don’t recall the actual event, but it got me thinking about protecting my family as well as myself. I never wanted to just be another victim if it ever occured to me, I wanted to be part of the solution. Perhaps a hero. As naive as this sounds it was the thought of doing nothing versus doing something that made up my mind.
I was also worried about the possibility of stricter CCW laws in conjunction with talks of curtails on gun laws. While I did already own a .22LR. a 17 HMR as well as a GLOCK 22, I wanted something to possibly conceal. Oddly, I told myself as well as my wife that I just wanted to take the class and get permitted in the event that the opportunity would disappear in the future. I wanted to be grandfathered in. I told myself I would never actually carry, maybe just keep it in the car.
As a newbie in the world of CCW, and a self-believed internet surfing wizard, I put my research hat on and dove into the vast expanse of CCW ownership across the various sites. I was unprepared for the sheer amount of opinions on various calibers, loads, barrel lengths, twist, coriolis effects etc. It was an uphill battle to be sure. Apparently I knew nothing.
After a few days I knew I wanted a 9mm due to my experience with the size and perceived inadequacy with my GLOCK .40 caliber shooting skills. I also wanted something very small, thin and light.
Regardless of my days of research, it all went out the window during a visit to my local gun shop. My top two choices were out of stock and during this period there was zero hope of seeing them in stock anytime soon. I was shown a few handguns that fit my requirements, but none on my list. Yet I instantly fell in love with one of them, a Kel-Tec PF9. I never heard of it, I knew nothing about it, but I fell in love with it. It was small, it was a single stack, it was light, it was a 9mm, it fit me like a glove, I loved its appearance. It was mine 9 minutes later.
CCW Class – The Range
After a month or so of range time, countless cleanings and caressing, and my lithe weapon needing to burn a hole in my newly aquired ankle holster, I finally found a CCW class open. Two months out. The class was offered by a local police officer as well as his equally qualified wife and brother via a Groupon for $115 for two. How could I not jump on this? A friend and I signed up immediately. Heck it was cheaper for two than a standard class for one.
The class began with range time at 6am on a Saturday. One of the few cool things about living in Missouri is that in the chill of February we can use a range inside one of our numerous limestone caves. As a result freezing fingers, dripping noses and bulky jackets need not apply.
The only requirements for our target aspect of our class was to be able to shoot a standard target at 7 yards using both a semi-auto and a revolver. My friend Jeff and I took our places in our respective stations along with the other eight or so sharpshooters.
I took out my now potentially crime fighting PF9 and plinked away at my target. Three magazines later I eagerly awaited praise from one of the onlooking officers. After all, my target had a 3-inch group exactly where a gun wielding perp would have a heart. Apparently others needed assistance other than us, so Jeff and I plinked on with a revolver. I picked up my friend’s seemingly 20 lb. Taurus judge and proceeded to decapitate my target with some 20-plus rounds.
Again looking for praise from our LEO trainers, I began to see the true situation. While my friend’s and my shots were dead on, others were struggling to even hit the target. Some were unsure even how to use the weapon they brought. The officers were to busy preventing some of the group from shooting the rest of us due to pure negligence and inexperience, then actually checking for results. Both the officers had their duty vests on.
We just decided to throw some more lead 7 yards down range, then backed off to let others finish. Twenty minutes later everybody eventually hit something. We never actually got a confirmed visual or verbal on our results, but apparently everybody passed. This scared us a bit. This was our first taste of what to expect with the class.
CCW Class – The Classroom
A good 30 – 40 folks eventually rolled into a nice classroom promptly at 8am. We were given a ‘test’ exam that had all the questions and multiple choice answers for each relevant point. We were instructed to check off the correct answer when it was covered in class. After each question was addressed in order during the class we were basically given the answer.
The information and the syllabus were excellent. The PowerPoints, were spaced out with videos, and actual demonstrations. The questions were asked and answered, the time flew by. Having a LEO and, as mentioned, assistants helped to vary the material.
The scope of the attendees was an eye opener to us. ‘Regular Joes’ like us, rigid military and paramilitary boys, mom, and grandmas.
At the end of the class we believed we were ready for the test, a little unsure, but ready. This was, after all, a big responsibility to be placed upon us after completion. We hoped to have a high score for when we eventually went into the local sheriff’s office. We were all instructed to take out the multiple choice sheet that we filled out during the class. We then went over each question and made sure we had the correct answer. Once done, we scored ourselves and were instructed to sign, date and hand it in.
Again this was an eye-opener. Where was the big test? Was this it?
We apparently passed.
To this day I remember the first week or so of carrying my pistol. I did not have that cowboy feeling of expecting to save the world from evil doers or have a heightened sense of courage. Rather I felt a bit scared and paranoid. Perhaps I thought it would go off on its own, or a soccer mom would see me printing. I could never even get up the courage to carry one round in the chamber.
Over a year later I now carry daily without even thinking about it. I generally use an ankle holster or in the small of my back with the attached side clip on my PF9. I feel naked in the way that you feel if you left the house without your cell phone if its not on me.
I am always courteous of the local carry laws and respect local business rights to post no gun signs, although I now find myself avoiding these establishments. My wife and family are now comfortable with me carrying to the point that they ask occasionally if I am under ‘unique’ situations. It’s just become a way of life.
I now understand a lot more about the responsibilities of a CCW as well as proper weapon ownership in general. I do not regret my choice in my weapon selection although I may have chosen differently if I could, knowing what I know now. I did have issues with my PF9, but they were resolved quickly and professionally.
I do not look poorly upon my CCW class or the instructors. I was a bit disappointed that it was not taken as strongly as I had expected. They showed me the path, I took it from there. I look upon myself as a better educated and responsible gun owner and now encourage other like-minded individuals to pursue this path as well.
I now have another carry weapon in my arsenal, I have upgraded grips, obtained additional magazines and watch on pins and needles as some guy on YouTube evaluates the best load for my short barrel 9mm. But I am not much better off in a hairy situation than I was prior to carrying. It still comes down to common sense in a preservation scenario in my opinion. I will never be that cowboy.
To this day I still do not feel comfortable carrying a weapon with one in the chamber. Perhaps in another year, perhaps not. Like my choice to carry, it is a decision of mine and mine alone.