Realistic Training for Concealed Carry

The internet is proliferating a dangerous trend in concealed carry training: a focus that is centered upon raw shooting speed. It is important to be fast, true, but self-defense situations do not generally rely on a .11-second split time. More important factors go into training for concealed carry.
Everyone who carries a firearm, regardless of whether you are a sworn officer of law enforcement or an average armed citizen, carries a responsibility for every single round exiting the muzzle. Each of those rounds carries an immense amount of liability. Because of this, it is vital to understand that articulating your actions after shooting in a defensive manner is fully as important as training to shoot quickly or accurately.
A law enforcement officer has the benefit of a union or department's resources behind them; an average citizen who carries concealed does not. The cost of legal representation mounts up quickly. The old adage that it is better to be judged by a jury of 12 than carried out by six is all well and good, but the reality tends to deflate such bravado once in court. You can be faced with a very real potential of losing your savings, your house, and ultimately, your freedom.
Ten years have seen the number of rounds fired in shootings involving officers rise substantially, according to statistics. Tracking the number of rounds that are fired in shootings that do not involve police officers is more difficult. Still, it makes sense to reason that the trend tracks consistently with that of the numbers involving law enforcement officers. The times being what they are, it is relevant to look at recent training methodologies.
Police Officers
First, a look at law enforcement officer mandate is helpful. The culprit is likely to be the ideology of more rounds, faster and closer. This is taken from POST, or Peace Officer Standards and Training. Good intentions were behind this theory, but such intentions pave the road to hell, as the saying goes. The logic is that, because most pistol-related engagements are fast and close, the training should be as well. This is not true.
An actual gunfight is, quite simply, vastly different than basic training or simply qualifying. The body has stress reactions that cause you to experience distortions cognitively, distortions such as with time, preceptions, tunnel vision, and auditory exclusions. There was a time when the POST of the state of California had the misconception of knowing better than dozens of instructors' collective experience involving multiple engagements. The mandate they gave was that the next course for qualification involved a 3-yard event that included multiple shots on numerous targets with a pace that was faster. The qualification being skewed closer and faster meant that training skewed closer and faster.
The results of this skewing were predictable. An exponential rise occurred in the number of shots. Administrators wished to know why this was happening. In this instance, the department actually listened to the instructors and sought to mitigate the issue, moving toward an emphasis on slower cadences with greater accuracy over longer distances.
Armed Citizens
Data pertaining to non-sworn firearm carriers is more difficult to obtain. There is, however, an abundance of instructors with Instagram fame firing seven rounds within a second's time on a dummy of rubber only a foot away. With this glut, it is easy to imagine that impressionable law-abiding citizens walk away with skewed priorities. While shooting fast is important, training is really all about learning your physical limitations and seeking to improve. It is also about the simple enjoyment of the training and pastime.
Whether you carry a gun as a professional or not, you need to understand the chaotic and unpredictable nature of a gunfight's dynamics. Generally, humans are capable of processing and reacting to data in just under .4 of a second. If you train yourself to pull the trigger at .07 to .09 of a second, you may find yourself setting up for trouble; this is true in both an ethical and a legal sense. You simply cannot process the incoming information and assess it accurately in that short time frame. Firing a follow-up shot can result in being judged on the first shot's effectiveness in a courtroom.
An armed conflict's aftermath involves having to describe every fired round's effectiveness. Mixing in adrenaline, stress, uncertainty, and cognitive distortions, articulating the details of how you shot is a difficult endeavor. To protect yourself post-shooting, focus on some key principles. These include target discrimination, force-on-force, cover usage, and accuracy at reasonable movement and distances. It is as important to survive an armed encounter's consequences as it is to survive the actual encounter.
Joshua Keaton

Joshua is our senior staff writer for and He is an avid hunter, clay shooter and amateur photographer.