Nick’s First Time Hunter series was so goshdarned popular, I thought I’d do a little series of my own. But this time, instead of focusing on our favorite city slicker spending some time in the great outdoors, we’ll turn things around. I’ve been thinking about getting my CHL for quite some time, but Nick made a pretty interesting point in his recap article about Gun Culture 1.0 vs. Gun Culture 2.0 that really struck a chord. Here’s Leghorn’s full quote because I think it is so important…

A quick note about the “1.0 and “2.0 stuff. There’s a rift in the gun culture, and depending on whether your parents or friends introduced you to hunting at an early age is generally the defining feature. Gun Culture 1.0 is the traditional hunting, plinking and benchrest shooting crowd whose traditions are passed down from generation to generation. Gun Culture 2.0 is generally the more “tactical” crowd, who started shooting in their college days (18+) or after and are interested in 3-gun and self defense more than anything else. The progression from 1.0 to 2.0 is easy and there are converts every day, but going the other way tends to be much more difficult.

I am firmly in the 1.0 crowd. I grew up hunting, plinking, and generally being raised with the “guns are tools” mindset. At some point, I had to leave the country to go to school, get a high paying job, etc. As I’ve spent more time in a city and writing for TTAG, I’ve become much more interested in the 2.0 side of things. I’ve started to work on my situational awareness and the more I do, the more pants shittingly frightened I am for my safety. And, if I’m being honest, the idea of having to defend my life with a pistol scares the crap out of me just as much. If it has come to that, the threat’s already too close. But as many have pointed out, I’d rather have some gun, than no gun at all.

Like most interests in my life, I have obsessively researched multiple aspects of the concealed carry process in the state of Texas. What paperwork needs to be filled out, which instructor to use, other methods of self-defense, how often to practice, what to practice. The whole thing’s a bit overwhelming. As things can happen when I start to research something, I get a little paralyzed and overwhelmed with everything that need to be done.

Luckily, I have a partner who not only supports me in my quest for armed self defense, but is also a take-charge kind of gal. I guess I’ve been a good boy because Santa brought me a gift certificate for a CHL class at Amerishield Academy in Round Rock, TX. I’m signed up for their January 14, 2012 class. In the interim, I am going to start on the application and keep poking Springfield to send me a 1911 for T&E.

They say that eating an elephant starts one bite at a time. Over the next few months, I’ll be checking in periodically to give you a first hand view of my progression from unarmed neophyte to legally armed citizen. Wish me luck, loyal readers. We’re about to start a hell of a ride!

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38 Responses to First Time CHL – The Odyssey Begins

      • its not the barrel that is the problem to conceal its the grip length that’s the problem. baggy/loose pants will hide a barrel but nothing can be done about the grip length.

        • Especially with inside the waistband holsters since the pants themselves will conceal the barrel. Usually the only thing you’ll have to worry about with long barrels is the pistol getting pushed up when you sit down. That can be a bit uncomfortable.

          Dan’s right, it’s the grip that will print. Other than grip length, the other main considerations will be where along your belt the gun is situated and how tight to your body it is. If the grip comes off your body in such a way that it forms an unnatural looking right angle, then it will be noticeable. So if it’s at 3:00 and loose, it will probably print a lot. If it’s at 4:00 or 4:30 and held tight it probably won’t print much or at all. Everyone’s different, though.

  1. I’m a Texas CHL holder and I can verify the process is really rather simple (especially if you don’t have a criminal background) . Here is a good online forum that I frequented during my application process: http://www.texaschlforum.com I was able find all the answers to any questions that I had there.

  2. The class and getting the license is only one bite of the elephant.

    It’s not so hard.

    Being self conscenious at first and getting used to carrying in all kinds of places is an adventure.

    • Man, you nailed it. After I got my permit, I felt like people were staring at me all the time because I was carrying. As it happens, I was getting stares – the same stares I got before I carried. (I’m the largest filipino you’ve ever seen.) In other words, it’s all in your head. Carry, and take comfort in the fact that you’ve taken responsibility for yourself.

        • Yeah, that’s it, you’re too damn good looking. Now the fact that you’re also about a head taller than me and shoot better than I, had no bearing on me saying that!

      • It’s also comforting to realize that, generally, most people don’t pay attention to their surroundings worth a shit. You could have half the grip sticking out of your shirt and a lot of people wouldn’t even notice. Too busy walking and texting, probably.

  3. Good luck, Tyler – I look forward to reading the series. I highly recommend checking out @EmilyMiller and her #EmilysGun series on Twitter – very popular series of similar concept, though the author is navigating the bureaucracy of Washington DC to simply own a gun, not carry one.

    • Emily has a great series going, and when I discovered it, I had to go back as there was a lot I had missed. Being in D.C., she obviously has a lot of nonsense to deal with that you do not have down in Texas. I’m in California and have mine, and the renewal process is the same as a first time application, as they basically treat a renewal as though they’ve never seen you before – you start from scratch. Every two years.Anyway, best of luck with it. Look forward to reading your stories.

  4. Tyler, you won’t have any problems, and the journey is kinda fun. Keep your eyes on the prize — which is the Wally-Walk.

  5. Good luck on your CHL it’s a pretty interesting class….wait Round Rock did you say? Mmmmm Donuts…Round Rock Donuts…. (drools)

  6. Good luck on the journey, Tyler. And a personal comment on your remark that “the idea of having to defend my life with a pistol scares the crap out of me just as much.” – Knowing that you have the ability and capability of defending yourself is actually a confidence builder. You will, I think, find that you are LESS likely to get angry or scared in a potentially dangerous situation, and will find yourself thinking a bit more calmly and clearly. Knowing that you have the means to defend yourself will give you the self-confidence to leave potential confrontations without the fear of being thought afraid – if that makes sense.

    Good luck!

    • What he said. It does make sense. It’s not “gun courage.” It’s an ameliorating effect on your psyche–like having kids makes you (hopefully) more conscious of a lotta things. The very opposite of what anti-gun twits contend.

      • What IdahoPete and Kirk said is absolutely the truth. And I’ve found that with everyone carrying cell phones (like Ipads and Androids) which are much bigger than just a few years ago, most people will think it’s your phone. So relax and be natural, it’s all in your head at first.

  7. I’m interested in watching your choice of guns change. Prediction: You’ll end up with a Ruger LCP by this time next year. And you will feel very self conscious but remember 1) You’re not doing anything illegal (right?) and 2) No one is looking at your waistband that closely.

  8. Looking forward to this series. For reference, here’s the Washington State first time CPL series:

    1. Don’t be insane or a felon
    2. Go to issuing authority
    3. Fill out the form
    4. Pay $55.25
    5. Get finger printed
    6. Wait up to 30 days

    King County, where Seattle is, usually takes the full 30 days, mainly because it’s bigger than any other county in the state, but I’ve heard it taking as little as three days in the smaller counties.

    • Mine took about a week and a half (Kitsap County). A pulse and a clean record is good enough here. I am somewhat ambivalent about that, but it sure beats some of the alternatives.

      • True, and we have open carry as well. Not that I’d open carry. It’s not that I’m afraid of someone grabbing my gun, or getting shot first or anything like that, it’s the fact that open carry is a giant neon sign screaming “COME ASK ME ABOUT MY GUN!!1!” to either curious strangers or the police. Which is frankly just a pain in the ass. I have no desire to be an info kiosk about our Second Amendment rights. If someone has the personality and desire to be that, then thanks and good luck, but it’s not for me.

        • Open carry is a lot like taking out a restraining order. Yes, it deters some people. Unfortunately it also aggravates the folks you really have to worry about.

  9. The CHL course will be a cakewalk, the biggest challenge I had was staying awake. In retrospect, I should have looked around for quality instruction, rather than going for the bargain “Obama Special” they were running. Oh well.

    On the up (or down) side, this will open up a whole new world of guns, gear, and gadgets to review/buy/store/maintain, etc…

    Looking forward to this series…

  10. I grew up in GC 1.0 shooting pheasants and quail with my grandfather. Then I entered GC 2.9 as a soldier. I returned to GC 1.0 as a deer and moose hunter on the farm, though I’m a suburbanite 10 months of the year. I agree with Dan and GaryinVT: My first pistol was a 1911 in RVN and the only other option was a 38 Special. Simple choice. With the advent of CC (and owning no pistol) I chose a 1911. In fact, two. Laugh. Doesn’t work with a business suit, I concluded. The beaver tail can snag, as can the hammer. I ended up carrying a G36, usually in a pocket holster behind my leather checkbook. It’s light, doesn’t snag, is utterly reliable, and has no highly-stressed small parts. My emotions say “1911” but my reality says a G36 suffices and goes unnoticed. Of course if the trouble is outside my back door, that’s a very different matter. Good luck.

  11. Good luck and Welcome. I grew up 1.0 and upgraded to 2.0 several years ago. After a run in with a burglar this summer, I installed the updates and rebooted.

  12. After buying my first gun in March I got my Texas CHL in October and it was a breeze (you know, as long as you don’t have a criminal record). I had a great instructor and while the class was very long I didn’t find my time wasted at all. He peppered the lessons with anecdotes from both his service as a sheriff’s deputy and from prior attendees and they would really drive points home; hopefully you get one just as good. The primary thing I took away from the class was that it is a frightening world out there and I’m glad I live in a state that allows me to face it with at least some measure of defense.

    Speaking of defense, if no one has mentioned it you may want to look in to what sort of insurance options are available to you that would cover you both financially and legally in the event of a DGU. The range in Houston that I took my class at has a representative from Texas LawShield speak to each class. I’m not trying to shill for them or anything but it appears to be a great program and I signed up for it. Does anyone know of anything offered in Texas or elsewhere like that? Has that sort of thing been covered on TTAG before?

    • My Father, and I as well as both of my Uncles use Texas Law Shield. I look at it like my wife’s life insurance, I don’t ever want to have to use it, bu if I do I will be glad I have it. I would be interested to hear from Ralph about the realities of this kind of specialized “legal insurance” designed for civil and criminal defense for DGU’s.

    • The Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network http://armedcitizensnetwork.org/ is an excellent organization run by Marty and Gila Hayes. Top tier trainers like Massad Ayoob and Tom Givens are on the board. The ACLDN was set up to provide legal and financial support for members involved in DGUs. Most criminal defense lawyers are trained to do plea deals defending guilty people/criminals; few have experience defending law abiding citizens involved in justifiable shootings, because so few occur and fewer still go to trial (particularly in Texas). There’s a risk with pre-paid legal or other legal plans that you’ll get assigned a lawyer with no relevant experience. IMHO you are better off joining ACLDN and using their network to find a pro-gun lawyer.

    • There is a group called the United States Concealed Carry Association. The have three levels of membership that includes both civil and criminal insurance at differing levels. It’s group insurance that seems reasonable.

  13. Hi Mr. Kee,
    Congratulations on your decision. I have been a CHL holder since 1996 and I am always pleased when someone decides to take responsibility for his safety.

    If I may, I would like to go over three (3) points that I hope will be of interest to you.

    First let me say that I believe you should be “pants shitting frightened” and I hope you will stay that way.
    I hope you will always put caution first and force last.
    Carrying a gun will give you the ability to defend yourself legally in a way you have not been able to before. Where you would have been at the mercy of an attacker, you will now have the ability to defend yourself.
    But having the “ability” to defend yourself does not mean you will be “able” to do so.
    Being able to use a gun, in no way assures victory.
    Even being victorious does not mean you will escape unharmed.
    Having a CHL and a gun will not make you any tougher, stronger, smarter or skilled and it will not shield you from harm.

    Second I hope you will not stop training after you get your CHL. I hope you will get all the training you can. Especially awareness training .
    In the fifteen years I have had my CHL I have never had to put it to use, but I have used my awareness skills many times. If you have not already, learn about “condition yellow”. I have taken many courses ( both defensive and offensive) and I go to the range twice a month. But if I had only one set of skills, I would want them to be awarness. It is a thousand times better to stay out of trouble than to get out. They do not have to be “hands on” courses. They can be books, videos and T.V. programs.
    A good place to start looking for courses, if you have not already, would be to ask your CHL instructors for recommendations.

    Which brings me to my last point.
    Last month I would not have even brought this up because I thought it unnecessary. After reading an article posted in TTAG on December 23rd I have changed my mind. Especially since you live in Texas.
    It seems two (2) people were under the impression that the law requires Texas CHL holders to show there CHL anytime they are asked for ID by the police, armed or not. (One of them stated that he has held a CHL in Texas for twelve (12) years and taken the course three (3) times.) This is not true, furthermore it has never been true.
    Now on the surface this seems unimportant since they are obeying the law anyway. The problem, Mr. Kee, is that when you decide to carry, you accept a whole new set of laws and responsibilities that did not apply to you before. Laws that if not obeyed can put you in court, jail, and or prison.
    When you take your course you should be given a copy of TEXAS CONCEALED HANDGUN LAWS AND SELECTED STATUTES, if you do not already have one.
    If they do not give you a copy, you can Google” texas handgun laws”.
    This book is suppose to be the subject of the classroom portion of your CHL class. After reading the December 23rd article I am not sure this is the case.

    Mr.Kee, I suggest you read this book from cover to cover. When you do you will find the law governing when to display your CHL is one of the most simple, straightforward in the book. You will also find that most others are far more complicated.
    I reread it periodically because it is impossible for me to remember it all and I suggest you do the same, because everyone who holds a CHL is responsible for knowing it all. I repeat, KNOWING IT ALL. Ignorance of this book can land you in jail or prison many times over.
    We also keep copies in our vehicles in case we are stopped and must argue a point of law ( condition yellow).

    I hope I have not discouraged you. Instead I hope I have encouraged you to become as well trained and knowledgeable as possible.
    The next time you find yourself stranded and waiting for the auto club guy, you will have a much more confident feeling than you did the last time.
    Just how much more confident depends on how seriously you take your responsibilty to be as prepared as possible.
    Obtaining a CHL is not the end, it is the beginning.

    Once again I congratulate you on your decision.
    Have a safe and happy life.

  14. About time Tyler.

    I was in your position a year ago. Since then it has become very normal to be armed most of the time. Practice and familiarity, but never contempt.

    All the best.

  15. Hey. Tyler. Welcome to the “real deal”. Personally, gun “enthusiasts” who have a rack (or safe) full of bolt-action rifles and pontificate about the “proper” role of firearms in American society (read, FUDDS who don’t carry and could care less about handguns being banned), but aren’t in immediate personal possession of a loaded sidearm while indulging in said pontificating give me a cramp.

    By and large, that bolt-action is your hobby. A sidearm is your LIFE.

  16. First, the CHL online application process is time-limited. If you don’t complete the application within a certain amount of time DPS makes you start over. I recommend you don’t start the application until shortly before or after class.
    Second, check out the Texas Concealed Handgun Association at http://www.txchia.org. I maintain the site as an Association director. I hope you’ll find the information useful, and I always appreciate user input. That you can join before you get your CHL.
    Finally, I think you’re well on your way to Gun Culture 3.0. That’s when you figure out that the best way to learn something is to teach someone else.

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