This is a guest post from Dieter Heren, owner of saltwaterandgunpowder.com, a site devoted to hunting, fishing, and shooting. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes from time to time, it’s how we learn. However, making mistakes when concealing a firearm can have serious implications. Instead of making you learn by trial and error, I’ve compiled a list of 10 common mistakes so you don’t have to find out the hard way. Most of the mistakes I’ve listed are made by those still new to carrying concealed, but even those with years of experience can be guilty of making a couple of these mistakes from time to time.
1. Having the minimum required training
In many states, a hunter safety course is enough to qualify you for a concealed weapons license. However, these courses often focus solely on being safe with a rifle in the woods. Although it’s great to know you’re not allowed to shoot over a road the next time you go hunting, it doesn’t exactly prepare you to go out into the regular world and interact with others now that you all of a sudden have a gun on your hip.
Even some classes that are specifically designed around qualifying you for a concealed weapons permit don’t do much in the way of preparing you. Do your research before choosing a class and find a reputable one that is more concerned with proper training rather than getting you out of the course as quickly as possible. The course concerned most about money will often go through some of the basics, have you shoot a few rounds, and send you on your way. You want a course that has instructors who are going to help you in every way possible to make sure you leave their class prepared.
Finally, don’t think that just because you met the minimum requirements for a license you’re now ready to navigate every situation you find yourself in. A responsible person who carries concealed is constantly learning, both mentally and physically. As legendary football coach Bo Schembechler often said, “Every day you’re getting better or worse…you never stay the same”.
Printing, where the outline of your gun appears from pushing against your clothing and exposing a part of the gun are mistakes that often arise from complacency. When you first start carrying, often you’re so concerned about your gun showing in public you’ll do anything and everything to make sure it never happens. After carrying every day for years, it’s still a thought but you’re nowhere near as scared of it happening. Just take that extra second to make sure you’re not printing or going to expose your gun at some point.
Honestly, most people are pretty ignorant to their surroundings anyways, but it certainly isn’t worth the trouble of someone freaking out if they do notice because you didn’t want to bother changing your 2 sizes too small shirt. Although some people are extremely concerned about printing, it’s not the end of the world if it happens at some point (although it may be illegal in some localities). It’s certainly not something to get into the habit of doing, but compared to exposing your gun, printing is nowhere near as big a concern. If your gun is exposed, you could find yourself in some serious hot water. The last thing you want to deal with is half the police station closing in on you with guns drawn because you bent over to pick something up and the lady behind you happened to notice your gun.
Trust me, if someone sees your gun and they’re scared, the 911 call won’t be a rational explanation of what happened. Take your time to make sure you’re not printing or in danger of exposing your gun before you leave the house.
3. Using a cheap holster
There’s a reason those who have been carrying for years have a drawer full of holsters in their house, the holsters didn’t perform the way they needed to. Don’t be afraid to experiment with several different holsters to find the one fits your lifestyle and your body properly. The benefits of a quality holster far outweigh the true cost of buying a holster solely based on price.