Concealed carry isn't something you can just pick up and do without making any adjustments to your lifestyle - it takes some time to get the basics down, and it's not something that should be rushed or taken lightly. If you have no previous experience with carrying a firearm, it can seem extremely intimidating because there's a lot to learn and no room for error.
There are many things that you can do to become more comfortable with carrying your firearm. Below we've compiled a few tips and pointers on how to become more comfortable with concealed carry, whether you're starting from square one or you've recently started carrying a firearm.
Start with the Proper Equipment
First things first: start with the proper tools for the job. You want to buy quality gear, which includes a gun holster and a belt (if your holster doesn't clip directly to your clothing), or a high-quality concealed carry purse. You may also want to purchase a magazine pouch so you can carry extra ammo with you.
Resist the temptation to buy cheap gear - you need durable equipment that you can consistently rely on. Remember, you'll be wearing this equipment regularly, so good gear is worth the investment.
Get Comfortable with Carrying and Drawing Your Gun
In addition to knowing how to operate your firearm flawlessly, you need to be comfortable with your gun on or near your body, if carrying in a purse. A great way to practice holster carry is by wearing your unloaded gun around your house or putting your unloaded gun in your purse. You can do this as long as it takes to feel comfortable.
You'll also need to practice drawing your gun until you are confident that you can do it quickly and smoothly. In a self-defense situation, you can't afford don’t any hesitation or clumsiness. Getting into the habit of regular dry fire practice will help you improve your skills more quickly.
Cultivate the Right Mindset
Cultivating the right mindset means truly understanding what it means to defend yourself. It also means being situationally aware at all times. You must understand that if you have to use your gun, you are likely entering into a life-or-death situation. You must be confident in your abilities and willing to do what it takes to survive.
When you carry, you have an obligation to be aware of your surroundings and to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. You should never let your guard down, but instead learn to anticipate what could happen, and be ready to react. This is called "situational awareness." A good way to learn situational awareness is by learning the Cooper Code, which is a sliding scale of readiness, going from a state of being oblivious and unprepared (White) to a condition of being ready to instantly defend yourself if forced (Red). You'll need to learn to mentally move up and down this scale as the situation and circumstances around you change.
Know Concealed Carry and Self-Defense Laws
Everyone who carries a firearm needs to know the federal, state, and local laws. Not only do you need to have a good understanding of where you can and can't carry in your state, but you also need to know what's considered self-defense. For example, it's important to understand if your state has a Castle or Stand Your Ground law, which are statutes that allow a person to legally defend themselves in specific places or circumstances.
Even though about half the US states now allow concealed carry without a permit, there are a few states that heavily restrict carrying a firearm, including requiring a permit or license for you and/or your firearms. Once you figure out what the process is for carrying a gun in your state, it's time to start following the procedure.
Get the Proper Training and Practice Regularly
Take as many training courses as you can with qualified instructors to learn defensive shooting techniques. Defensive shooting and basic marksmanship are not the same, so even if you're a competent shot, it's important to get specialized training.
Once you learn defensive techniques, you need to practice them until they become second nature and you don't have to expend mental energy to remember what to do. Even if it's just a couple of hours at a time, practicing defensive shooting is going to make you more prepared if you ever need to defend yourself.
Take it Slow
When you're just starting out with concealed carry, it's a good idea to take things slowly at first. With everything else that's new and different, doing something like carrying a gun on your person takes practice to get the hang of. It will get easier and more relaxed as you move forward, so don't give up if it feels weird - carrying a firearm feels strange for everyone when they first start!