550,000 NC Concealed Carry Permit Holders, How Many Practice?
As of 2015 there are over 550,000 Concealed Carry Handgun Permit holders in North Carolina. These permits are up 101% from 2014 to 2015 and that was before State Legislature passed the "Shall Issue" for Sheriff's which will bring these numbers even higher. With just 7.54% of the population holding permits and a 100% year over year growth we can expect significantly more people applying in the coming months.
Most people will attend a 8 hour class, which happens to be the state minimum, and then wait for days or even weeks to see the Sheriff for their fingerprinting and background check. These classes usually spend a state mandated 2 hours of legal training, take a test, then cover handguns and safety for 4 hours, and then spend the last 2 hours at the range. Often the order varies but the content is usually the same. People sit inside listening to someone talk for hours, worry about tests, get bored, and ultimately how much do we think was really learned? Oh but wait then you go shoot real guns to test your abilities, and some people cant hit the silhouette target at 3 yards. There are a few problems I think we can all agree on and a few easy ways to fix them.
1) Class shouldn't have a time cut-off
"But Patrick, the state only requires 8 hours." While this is true, the state also says that this is the minimum, and most people who take the concealed carry class haven't taken any other classes before so we are truly dealing with "New" shooters. New can mean you never shot before, or you have shot for years but you have never taken an official safety course, fundamental skills course, or aren't even sure who taught you. We need to have at minimum 8 hours to be able to teach you not only the law and test your abilities but we have to squeeze in all our knowledge of the basics of firearms safety, all different handgun types, how they all work, what happens if it doesn't work, how to clean it, how to store it, how to hold it, aim, stand, etc... you get my point. The class is really a culmination of the NRA Basic Pistol Course, which by the way has a mandated minimum of 8 hours, the state's Laws Governing Concealed Handgun and the Use of Deadly Force (5 Hours), and a shooting proficiency test, usually 2 hours. Ideally we would want 2 or 3 days to teach all of these if we are abiding by these class times, thats 15 hours. I think my point has been made, if you have taken this already and have your permit but was less than 8 hours, you got cheated. Contact me today and I'll sit you in our next class for free.
2) Lecture is dead
You've upgraded your charcoal grill to a propane grill. The directions come and they have some pictures but they are small and you have to read how to turn it on. Most of you probably said to heck with these and tried it on your own, but what if the store tech came with the grill and demonstrated how to open the lid first so as not to explode your face, then turn on the gas, now the knobs, now push the ignition, then he said ok now you try, and then how about teaching your husband/wife? Would that not make more sense? Now I know its unrealistic to expect that level of service from a grill manufacturer or store but is it too much to ask that someone teach you how to own, handle, and use a firearm properly by not only telling you but by showing you and having you demonstrate the skill to others? It's not rocket science and you wouldn't let your children drive a car without teaching them, or better yet having them pass Drivers Ed. Drivers Ed tells you, shows you, and usually you demonstrate to others as there is more than one student in the car. Why should a firearm be any different? Don't settle for a class lecture, you wont know what to do in real life, and there is a chance you didn't have fun and wont want to shoot again.
3) Who say's you can't have fun?
Yes choosing to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense is a very serious life choice, but learning to shoot, and understanding the law doesn't have to be black and white boring. Our classes involve group exercises at the end of each lesson so that you can lighten the mood a bit, stretch your legs, and smile, we try to be as hands on as possible so whenever you can demonstrate the lesson we try to allow you.
4) Practice, Practice, Practice
Most people take their class, get their permit and put their gun in their car, end of story. What we need to emphasize is that if you don't practice and you don't stay current, you wont know what to do when you need it. Ever rent a Uhaul? Remember when you first drove it, how big it was, how hard it was to back up, the stress you felt on the road trying not to hit anyone or anything? Chances are it was tough, but after a little while you picked it up. Should you rent another, you will more than likely experience all those difficulties again because you simply don't drive a huge moving truck around everyday. Same goes for a gun, if you just buy it, shoot it some and then let it sit, in the event you need it you're likely to miss your target, that is if you remember how to hold it, load it, disable the safety and point it all in under a few seconds, while afraid, shaking, and unable to see your surroundings. Even if you used to be an expert at it, without practice its like riding a bike again. You remember how to ride a bike, but when you get back on one, your butt's going to get sore, your knees may hit the handlebars, your chain may eat your pants, you might forget your hand signals, and you might grab the front brake on accident and flip over.. these are common mistakes people who haven't rode a bike in while experience. A mistake with your firearm could cost you your life or someone else's. Practice whenever you can, if you don't have time every month to shoot live ammo, Dry-Fire practice. If you don't know where to go or what you should do, call me. I need to practice too, and I'd be more than happy to bring you with me to the range for a shooting session.
With hands on instruction, proper safety and fundamental instruction, our concealed carry students are ready for the next step. I spend extra time on the range versus the classroom, what I mean is that when we cover the shooting positions, grip, sight alignment & sight picture, and the other fundamentals in class, I keep it simple then I tend to go to the range and spend more time than most people reviewing this topic. Instead of going to the range to qualify and be done with it, we go to the range and do a Dry-Fire session (No Live Ammo) and do hands on learning for stance, grip, SA/SP, and I then show students some examples of what i would teach in a defensive pistol class, then we practice shooting with .22's and 9mm's and finally we qualify. By spending more time on the range I am encouraging our students to practice more, showing drills (basic & fundamental) that can be fun, and driving students towards the shooting sports.
What are your thoughts?