12 things that most people who carry a gun don’t know but really should

“There’s more to shooting than shooting” is the way I often make the point that there’s a whole lot more to self-defense for gun carriers than knowing how to shoot.  Sadly, most of them think that if they can hit the down-zero zone from five yards in two seconds…without concealment…that they are good to go.  And don’t even get me started about people that carry a gun for self defense and haven’t bothered to achieve even that level of skill!  Here’s what they’re missing:

  1. Fitness.  You’re far more likely to die an early avoidable death at the hands of disease than at the hands of a thug.  Remember, you can’t save your life (we all die) — you can only prolong it, and fitness and good diet are the highest return investments you can make here.
  2. Empty hands skills.  You are far more likely to need them than than gun skills, and even some gun-appropriate encounters require empty hands skills initially and/or to access your weapon.  Plus they build reflexes and athleticism that enhance weapons skills.
  3. Intermediate weapons.  See 2) above, and as Andrew Branca points out, even if you don’t need them the fact that you had them shows that you weren’t looking to shoot someone and that you’d thought through the issue of appropriate force responses.  Just remember to get good training with them and to practice with them often.
  4. Presentation from concealment.  Most people never practice this.  When forced to in my classes, they inevitably flub the draw.  And are surprised!
  5. Concealment skills.  Knowing how to effectively and reasonably-comfortably conceal your gun and what-all else you’re carrying requires thought, experimentation, purchases, trial-and-error, and then looping back to more thought and so on.  It’s an almost continual process as our bodies change every few years and our lifestyle changes as we go through the stages of life.
  6. Tactics.  Standing on a range and shooting doesn’t teach you how to move effectively to cover or through an environment, nor how to do so when you are with someone you are protecting.  It doesn’t teach you how to manage a confrontation, how to de-escalate, how to manage multiple living assailants, how to escape flanking, and so on.
  7. Legal knowledge.  It just makes my jaw drop that most CCW carriers don’t really know how and when they can use deadly force.  Despite the fact that they all think they do.  See Massad Ayoob or Andrew Branca for that education.
  8. Challenge technique. If, when, and how you challenge plays a critical role in whether you go to prison or not after a shooting.  Just sayin’.
  9. Simulation experience.  This is easy to do with blue guns, so no excuses.  It’s a whole different experience from just shooting.  Builds stress inoculation and…
  10. Judgement training.  Related to 7, 8, and 9 above, but critical.  Obviously.
  11. Aftermath management training.  Same deal as 8) above – you get to be Bubba’s big house playmate or not in large part due to how you handle this.
  12. Legal insurance.  There are many kinds and models.  I prefer the model of the Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network.

2 thoughts on “12 things that most people who carry a gun don’t know but really should

  1. Ralph, I was glad to see #4 & #5 mentioned. Regarding presentation, I consider it to be a very valuable skill due to the fact that it gives one time to adjust/correct the grip before BANG takes place.


  2. New reader here. I would appreciate a one or two sentence definition of “challenge technique” mentioned in #8. That’s a new phrase for me. Thanks,


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