Texas CHL Tips - Practice Carrying Concealed:
An Interesting Perspective
"...Start packing without the mental discipline, and you will fail the 'ALWAYS' test...."
by: David Woodbury
Editor's Note: This article by David Woodbury is aimed toward those who have not yet reached a point of confidence to carry concealed even though they have a permit to do so. It is better to build up one's confidence even if one has to practice carrying a concealed mock weapon (if legally permitted in your area). No need for emails about how temporarily carrying a mock or empty weapon is useless. Never carrying at all due to lack of confidence in one's abilities is permanently useless.
It bears repeating: Practice handling and shooting your gun before you need to use it. But if you're going to carry concealed, practice CARRYING before you actually do it.
Always Deciding to carry concealed presents some interesting and important mental challenges. Besides always staying in practice, so you are always as safe as you can be in a crisis, there are many more demands on you, all of them preceded by the word "always". (And there are scores of other demands preceded by "never", but those are the ones we hear all the time.)
- ALWAYS know where your gun is, both when it's on your body and when it's not.
- ALWAYS know whether it's loaded, when it's on your body and when it's not.
- ALWAYS know whether it's locked (or whether the safety is on, depending what type of hardware you're packing).
- ALWAYS know how you can sit, stand, walk, and run so it won't bulge or "print" on you.
- ALWAYS know how close you are to other people and whether there might be someone close by who would give you a spontaneous hug or a friendly pat in the wrong place.
- ALWAYS, always, always.
These are things -- and I could add many more -- that you cannot forget, even for a moment.
Permit Today, Pack Tomorrow.
Yes, you can get a concealed carry permit and then immediately begin carrying when you've never, or seldom, done it before. But to do so requires a level of mental discipline that most of us don't possess the moment we start. You will make mistakes if you do it that way. Start packing without the mental discipline, and you will fail the ALWAYS test above. So I'm here to offer a handful of suggestions.
Even though I'm a Registered Maine Guide, even though I've hunted for 40 years, even though I'm an Army veteran, even though I've been a security manager (unarmed), even though I have long owned firearms of several types, I didn't make the transition instantaneously once I started packing a few years ago. I was accustomed to open carry as in hunting: slipping the safety off and on as I moved about, unloading in the open before re-entering a vehicle, and so on. When I'm armed for hunting, it's right out in front of me where I'm acutely aware of it and open to the world at the same time. And no one where I live gives any thought to seeing someone alongside the road lugging a shotgun or rifle.
But I didn't start out doing A, B, or C. Why? I just thought I was already so handy and safe with firearms that packing heat would be natural. And because of that assumption, here are a few things that happened to me once I began carrying daily.
These are examples of common challenges in mental discipline. But there was one thing that was probably harder to get used to than overcoming any of these six glitches. It was simply the astonishing realization at first that I was armed and potentially deadly. Not as deadly as driving distracted at 70 mph. Not as deadly as when leading people into the wilderness in November where someone in your party can decide to wander off and get lost, leaving you to find him before he freezes. But deadly if someone else chooses that I must be.
Carrying concealed, it took me a long time to get over the fact that I could drop a human being in two or three seconds, power I had never had before. If I were highly skilled in the manual martial arts I might have that feeling, but I also would have spent years getting used to it as my skills improved. When your skill is with a firearm, you're harmless one moment, deadly the next.
If you own a gun for self-defense, practice handling and shooting before the day when someone decides for you that it will matter. But if you're going to carry, practice carrying before the day when you decide for yourself to go about armed!