California is slowly expanding the counties and areas where people can get concealed carry permits. I see this as a good thing. The more people who are armed, the more likely a would-be goblin will target the wrong person, and justice will be delivered sooner than later. I often see people who carry, practicing for the moment when they might need to rely on their firearm. However, the way they practice belies their ultimate needs. People will stand five yards from their target and slowly fire the gun, at a full silhouette, accepting any shot on paper as a sign of success.
Let’s take a look at how a concealed carrier might deploy their firearm defensively. First of all, we can anticipate a draw stroke from the holster. Following getting the gun from the holster, one might be expected to decide between having to fire shots or drawing to the low ready. In a worst-case scenario, a reload may be needed. Then there are the tactics aspects, such as moving, shooting around cover or disengagement.
Having looked at the most likely needs, how should they be practiced? For starters, never underestimate the value of the fundamentals of marksmanship. Be able to hit the target, under demanding conditions, and in as short a period of time as possible. This can be practiced on any range. Push yourself to either hit a smaller target over time, or the same target in a shorter period of time. Paper plates and similar sized targets make for great practice as they are close in size to the average human heart/lung zone. Smaller plates or 3X5 index cards are great for head shots. Start at a comfortable distance and pace, then work your way out or faster.
The draw stroke can be practiced in dry practice. I suggest practicing from the same holster and concealment in use during carry. Obviously, ensure the gun is unloaded and there is no ammunition anywhere in the area when you dry practice. Reloading can also be practiced dry and using the same concealment. Dry practice can also incorporate movement while drawing the firearm, provided you have the space in a safe place to practice.
Once you are comfortable with the motions, range work, drawing, firing, moving, etcetera should be practiced live. Go slow with the motions, with an emphasis on safety. If you are not comfortable, get qualified instruction.
The ultimate practice for concealed carry is to use the same equipment and firearm in a shooting competition. Recently I used my 2-inch snub-nosed revolver in an action pistol style match to ensure I am comfortable with it as a defensive weapon. One of the better matches for simple practice is the Steel Challenge. Each stage includes multiple strings of fire. Each string includes a draw stroke and five rounds on multiple targets of steel for instant feedback on your shot placement. If you shoot a rimfire pistol in the Steel Challenge, you start from the low ready, which is a possible scenario for the concealed carrier. I have been in many situations where I drew my gun, held it at the low ready, and then anticipated having to raise the gun to target and engage the threat.
However, if you choose to practice, for live fire come see us at California Tactical Academy. We have multiple ranges, competitions, and classes which will help you get proficient and stay proficient with your carry gun.