What did your concealed carry class teach you? Whatever a bureaucrat, that probably doesn’t even own a gun, felt was necessary. Concealed carry courses generally cater to the new shooter and are meant, only, to fulfil a legal requirement. It is a licensing class, not a gun fighting class. In Illinois all that is required to teach concealed carry is that you have a CCW permit and NRA basic pistol. Neither of which teach you how to fight with your gun. Concealed carry class teaches you the legal requirements. The NRA basic pistol focuses on basic marksmanship and safety. Safety rules that don’t pertain to self-defense…. why are there 2 sets of firearms safety rules???
For most people this will be the only formal firearms education they receive. This is unacceptable in my mind, but as my wife is quick to point out “They aren’t you.” Maybe this is a failing on the instructor for not stressing enough that the concealed carry class is only the beginning and you need to seek out specialized education designed around fighting with your gun. Maybe this is the student suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect. It doesn’t matter, this is why I stress the essential skills required for a gun fight in my entry level course, and all of my other courses are designed around those essential skills. There is no such thing as advanced skills. There is only the mastery of the essential skills performed at a more demanding level.
What do I feel should be taught in an entry level course that may very well be the only course some students ever take? It is my responsibility, as an educator, to give you best possible chances of winning a gunfight/ deadly force encounter that I can. I have to give you the essential skills that you need to win. Winning is the only option. These skills are different from basic gun handling. Now, anytime your gun comes out there is always a chance of death, the bad guys or yours. So, I need to enable you to place accurate and effective hits on target. That cannot occur when you only shoot the qualification. That is the major problem with concealed carry classes. These essential skills must be performed on demand.
I had a student recently for a private session that kept asking questions that should have been covered during the concealed carry course. Is it possible this student zoned out or forgot? Maybe, but this student was a sponge soaking up every word I said and was eager to learn; so, I doubt it. Clearly the instructor had failed this student. This, again, is unacceptable yet it happens on a constant basis. Though I can’t complain, a large deal of my business is correcting other instructors’ failings. When I was working as a gun bunny, I had a customer approach me and present their brand new CCW permit very proudly. After a short discussion I showed him the gun of his choice, which he promptly picked up, pointed at my head and yanked that trigger like he was pulling a kid out of shark infested water. After some harsh words on firearm safety and completely ignoring his lack of appropriate gun handling, he and his family became regular clients for private classes.
Most classes, unfortunately, just have you shoot the state required qualification. This does nothing to prepare you to defend your life. If the only shooting you do is a warm up and your qualification you probably shouldn’t give that person your money, they are stealing from you. You should be spending a significant amount of time on the range, how to work the trigger, how and when to use your sights, working from concealment (eventually), working malfunctions, reloading on a proactive and emergent basis (yes, I know that reloads are statistically unlikely, the skill is still necessary), …. LEARNING HOW TO FIGHT WITH YOUR GUN!!! A quick way to tell is to look at the round count. If the qualification is only 30rds and they tell you to bring 50rds…. that’s a clue. Look for classes that have you shooting a minimum of 300rds. Yes, I can show you what to do with 50rds, but the chances of you actually retaining it are slim. You have barely begun the process of learning that new skill.
Vet your instructor. I see so many instructors teaching shit they have no business teaching or taking shortcuts. There is no online portion to IL concealed carry. Neither concealed carry nor NRA basic pistol teach tactics, so why do some these “instructors” teach low light, barricade shooting and movement skills? This doesn’t pertain to Law enforcement or Military instructors. But the rest of them that have never taken anything beyond those 2 classes are just mimicking, poorly, what they have seen on social media. Yes, unfortunately, the social media school of gun fighting exist. No, you should not attend.
My intent is not to bash other instructors. But, when was your instructors last class as a student? Instructors that stagnate are the equivalent of students that take their concealed carry course and never touch their gun again. If you instructor isn’t challenging themselves (through course work, competition, or their peers) to grow and better themselves, how can they do that for you. If they aren’t committed to the learning process how can they grow and remain relevant. If your instructor only has the bare minimum requirements, how will they be able to provide quality education of the essential skills required to win a fight for your life.
Should you take a class taught by a Law enforcement or military instructor? Sure, you should take as many classes as possible. Those guys are a wealth of knowledge, but you need to know how to filter that information prior to attending class. Does what they are teaching pertain to you, your life style and your mission? Leo and Mil have a different mission than an armed citizen. Rarely do either of them function without back up a radio call away. Neither of them must conceal their firearm. Both can carry long guns openly. Both are hunters, have legal teams worth millions, and have different rules of engagement then the armed citizen. Both can teach you a great deal but, can you differentiate the roles? Why does an armed citizen need to be taught military or law enforcement tactics during, possibly, the only formal class they will ever attend? What if you took a class from someone that functions daily the same way you do? What if your teacher had to follow the same rules they are teaching? What if your teacher lived their daily life in a way that paralleled yours? Someone that has to conceal, has no back up, will be placed in handcuffs and possibly taken to jail immediately after using their firearm. Someone that has dedicated themselves to same methods they are preaching. Someone that must not only conceal their firearm but, their abilities, their intentions, and project an image that doesn’t differ from those around them in their daily lives. The same this goes for competition shooters. I bet I could learn a lot from a Grandmaster ranked competitor on being a better shooter, but what can he teach me about concealed carry. What I need to teach you isn’t cool or flashy; my job is to educate you enough to understand and make use of the essential skills required to win. I said educate, not train, why? You educate people, you train animals.
A good instructor gives credit where credit is due. There is nothing new in this game, 99.9% of it has been done before, forgotten, and relearned. Sure, each instructor has their own take on skills and how to perform them, but we all teach basically the same thing. No, I don’t mean only take from 1 instructor or there is only 1 way of doing things. What I mean is, if an instructor is advertising something that no one else in the industry is doing or is so “innovative” that nobody is mimicking or stealing it…. it’s almost always garbage. They are just trying to make themselves look good, all flash and no substance. So, do a little research and ask some questions before you give your money and time to someone that is supposed to be teaching your how to save your own life. I don’t remember where I heard it or the exact words, but the gist is…” there are two things you shouldn’t cheap out on, surgeons and things designed to save your life.”
This is why you don’t see me offering a concealed carry class. Instead, my Handgun Essentials 1 course teaches you the skills you will need in gun fight. Additionally, it qualifies as an Illinois Concealed Carry course. Don’t worry, if you ever need these skills, you will have the rest of your life to figure it out.