By Brian Ford:
If you’re one of those who recently got a concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit, you probably feel ready to start carrying your firearm everywhere. But just because you’ve been issued a permit doesn’t mean you’re immune to legal or other kinds of trouble with your handgun.
There are some common mistakes gun owners make which can easily be avoided. Instead of risking an incident which could have serious costs and consequences, keep the following tips in mind to be an effective and responsible concealed carrier.
1. Take Carrying Seriously
From the start, you need to be in the proper mindset to carry a firearm. Having a handgun carries with it a lot of responsibility with potentially serious consequences. It’s too easy when you first start to carry to feel invincible because of your weapon.
Instead, always see your pistol as a tool for self-defense and be realistic about scenarios you may encounter. Your ultimate goal should be to avoid conflict if at all possible. Your firearm is a last resort, not a show of force.
2. Stay Trained with Regular Practice
In most states, obtaining a permit requires proper firearm training to cover the basics. But just because you’ve taken a class doesn’t guarantee success using your firearm in a real-life situation.
Seeking out more training – and practicing those skills – is essential to being effective if and when the time comes. Following through with regular practice in a secure situation like a gun range will ensure your skills stay sharp. This can also teach you more about how your weapon performs, how to handle a malfunction, and reloading under stress; all of which are critical to know before a dangerous situation occurs.
3. Pair Your Firearm With the Right Holster
Choosing the right firearm for your situation is only part of the job; you also need a proper holster. It’s best to test a few options to find the perfect fit for your weapon and body type.
Selecting between an inside the waistband (IWB) or outside the waistband (OWB) holster is a good place to start. You’ll also want to find one that is made of a durable material which will be comfortable to wear all day.
Whatever holster you choose, make sure it offers good retention while allowing a fast, smooth draw with the firearm you plan to carry.
4. Make Carrying Second-Nature
If you intend to carry a gun, you should make it a point to carry as often as is appropriate. Make your handgun a part of your normal routine so you can become more comfortable wearing it. This will help you be accustomed to it so that strapping on your holster will be as second-nature as fastening your seatbelt when you drive.
5. Avoid Unnecessary Attention
The advantage of a CCW permit is, of course, that you can carry your weapon without anyone being aware you’re armed. But that advantage is lost if you behave in a way that draws attention to your firearm in public.
People new to carrying often focus too much on their gun and may constantly reach back to touch or “check” their pistol. They may fidget with their holster if it isn’t secure or slips out of position.
Both of these common behaviors should be curbed as much as possible. If you have good equipment, your gun isn’t going anywhere. The last thing you want is to lose the concealed part of concealed carry. Having a high quality holster that’s secure and comfortable, and limiting making any adjustments only to private settings can keep everyone calm.
6. Consider Your Clothing When Carrying
Speaking of being comfortable, when you carry, it’s important to consider your holster’s impact on what you’re wearing. Form-fitting fabrics may cause your rig to “print,” making the outline of your weapon visible.
Certain styles of clothing, such as overtly tactical or camouflage gear can also impact your ability to stay discreet. Instead, try to wear loose-fitting styles and fabrics. Not only will they make concealing your weapon more effective, but they provide better draw access.
7. Keep Informed About Local Laws
As the debates regarding gun ownership and carrying continue, changes to laws are bound to happen in various jurisdictions. One of the most important ways to be a responsible CCW permit holder is to stay up-to-date about the laws in any area to which you plan to travel with your weapon. Make sure you’re 100% familiar with restrictions about where you can legally carry and use your firearm before you get there.
Brian Ford is a freelance writer and blogger based in Austin, Texas. With a love for hunting, hiking, and the great outdoors in general, he often writes outside. In his free time, he enjoys spending afternoons at his local range.