Training and Equipment…both critical elements for self defense


Many folks who apply for a concealed carry permit fail to take into consideration that discreet carry of a handgun is actually a lifestyle change.  Approximately 80 percent of the licensed students I have trained report that they don’t carry on a daily basis.  Most say they carry only in their vehicle or while traveling. Point is, are you taking your training and equipment seriously when it comes to your self-defense handgun?

Along with the decision to carry a concealed handgun daily or occasionally comes a change in how you go about day-to-day life. Your attire will most likely need to change. How you carry a handgun and the equipment needed to be safe and effective is critical.

The following are some of most important points to consider:

Getting the handgun out of the holster and into play

Can you draw your handgun from a concealment location on your body efficiently and safely? Getting the pistol out of concealment will present its own challenges and must be practiced. To aid in this a person needs a good holster and if worn on the waistline, a solid belt to support that holster.  Two of my favorites are the Exos Gear leather belt and the very concealable Nexbelt.

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Exos Gear leather belt…sturdy!

What about getting the gun back into its hiding place once the incident is over? When carrying concealed I prefer a holster that is a blend of leather or other pliable material on the back and a more rigid material like kydex on the outward-facing side. This allows me to re-holster easily because the holster remains rigid and open, unlike a soft sided type.  Practice your draw now, ahead of any stressful incident in the future that you hope never happens.  Go slow at first and observe whether the system of your choice invites you to pass the muzzle over your own body—often it’s your non-shooting hand or arm. Be diligent in keeping fingers and everything else off the trigger. Bottom line, everything from handgun selection to a concealed carry holster comes into play along with training to make it all work together.

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Nexbelt and Kinetic Concealment IWB holster

Accurate shooting

If you must shoot, then hit what you’re shooting at. This obviously t requires ongoing training. There is bullseye accuracy and then there is self-defense accuracy. Your goal should be to blend the two….meaning you want a combination of speed and accuracy. Shoot lightning fast is great to the extent you can hit the intended target.  Shooting well is a perishable skill; you must hone this skill with solid training which should also include shooting wither either hand individually. On the equipment side of the equation, your sights, quality magazines and ammunition selection all come into play. Looking for some good pistol drills? Go to for some excellent drills and spend some lesson time with a qualified trainer.

Pistol manipulation skills

Hitting the target is only half the battle. Skills such as speed reloads, malfunction clearances, and efficiently getting the gun out of concealment are all critical skills to develop and maintain. Equipment needs include good magazine carriers, a solid holster, and ammo that your pistol functions with every time.

Varied shooting positions and moving to cover

A deadly force confrontation usually happens in seconds. However, the situation may allow for escape and avoidance (which you should do if at all possible), or you could find yourself needing to take cover. Cover is some object that will hopefully stop incoming bullets. If possible you should add into your training the act of moving to and shooting from cover. For many people, this will be a different experience that can change how a person grips their handgun and sees their sights. Practice shooting from kneeling, prone, and supine positions, and from around a barricade cover position now, instead of always keeping your feet planted in one place and hoping you will never need to shoot from another position.

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Kneeling and making use of cover.

Reduced light shooting

You must be able to identify your threat. There have been far too many tragic cases where a person shoots their own loved one believing they were an intruder. Carrying a quality handheld flashlight is a must in my opinion along with training to shoot while using the light.  After all, most crime happens after dark. Depending on the technique used, this may mean firing your pistol one handed…a skill I recommend you possess through training. A weapon-mounted light may or may not be appropriate depending on the risk of flagging innocent people.  In other words don’t use your muzzle as a search light. Again, training and equipment are a key combination.

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Train in reduced light and make use of a flashlight

Distance shooting

While most defensive encounters (over 90%) occur from about seven yards or less, there could be a situation where a longer shot must be made. With the current trend of active shooters, a shot a 12 to 25 yards or farther may be the reality.  With a handgun, this can be a challenge for even the seasoned shooter. Train and be able to make center mass shots at least out to 25 yards with your EDC handgun.  As with all shooting, your marksmanship fundamentals must be constantly reinforced. Distance shooting will test these skills and your equipment selection.

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Train for distance shooting

Reality based or “Force Decisions”

I believe that reality- based training is one of the best techniques you can employ to prepare for the encounter you hope never comes.  This type of training should be done in a very safe and secure manner, only with Simunition® or airsoft and sufficient protective attire. Force decisions training will challenge you mentally. Mental prowess is, in my opinion, where the rubber meets the road. You can be the best bullseye shooter in the world, but making decisions under immediate high stress and reacting appropriately is what this type of training is all about. We use this training often. Many students come away with an “oh shit” look on their face, but then begin to realize where their strengths and weaknesses really are.

A Final Thought

Remember that everywhere you carry, there is now a gun on scene. Don’t let your gun be used against you. There are many recent examples of openly carried and even concealed guns being taken right off the citizen carrying them. That gun could be used against you or someone else. Carry discreetly and securely is my suggestion.  Hence the need for good training and equipment.

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