Doing it Right: Your home is your most accessible training center
by John Naese
(Guns Save Life) – Carrying a firearm is an acquired habit and an acquired skill. If you haven’t done it on a regular basis, it takes some getting used to. Practicing around your home is a great way to learn what works and what does not… and to learn from your mistakes while nobody is around.
SAFETY FIRST! Don’t “play” with a loaded firearm! If you’re going to get used to carrying by doing it around your house, try several days with the gun dry; no ammo in the gun, or even in the rooms you frequent. For purposes of this exercise, you shouldn’t even handle the gun after you put it on and conceal it. What you’re trying to find out is how the gun feels as you carry it. You are also sorting out your wardrobe at this time; to find clothes that look good on you and conceal the firearm, you may have to change your habits or style of dress.
Is the gun irritating your skin? You may discover you need to wear an undershirt, or a different holster or style of carry.
It may be uncomfortable at first. Wear it for several days around the house. Ideally, it should become comfortable enough that you may forget you’re wearing it. (Don’t forget to disarm before leaving your property, at least until you actually get a permit in hand!)
Dry Fire Practice
Again, SAFETY FIRST! The rules of dry fire:
1. Designate a dry fire area pointing in a safe direction.
2. Do not bring or allow any
ammunition in that area.
You can also practice your draw at home, complete with a dry fire trigger pull. Be sure your gun is empty, and re-verify. Practice your draws only in your designated dry fire area, ideally in front of a mirror. Follow all gun safety rules, including keeping the muzzle in a safe direction.
Wear the same clothes you will wear out in public. The mirror will come in handy to help you see if your concealed firearm is truly concealed. Practice S-L-O-W-L-Y at first. (As the famous Frank Wright says: Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.)
Be sure as you are lifting or pushing aside clothing to get to the firearm, you do not cover your weak hand or any other soft body parts with the muzzle. If the gun gets hung up during the draw, stop, figure out what is in the way and why, and start over until you can draw smoothly without snagging. Slow is OK; speed will come as you become smoother and more practiced.
In real life, re-holstering is an essential skill as well; you should be able to do it one handed, without looking.
In real life, if you’re forced to draw and / or fire your gun, you will want the gun to be re-holstered and out of your hand before the police show up, or they may mistake you for the bad guy. Re-holstering should be done even more S-L-O-W-L-Y. There’s absolutely no prize, either in practice or in real life, for fast re-holstering. In fact, a slow and deliberate re-holstering is a often a sign of a trained and skilled shooter.
If your holster collapses upon drawing, and you have to poke and prod or use two hands to re-holster, it’s time to get a new and better holster.
During the act of re-holstering, if you feel resistance, STOP. Look and clear away the offending clothing, string, or strap; such items could get inside the trigger guard and lead to a negligent discharge, quite possibly through your leg, knee or rear end. Practice drawing and re-holstering SLOWLY until you can do it SMOOTHLY, with no wasted movement.
There is much more nuance to this skill set, and reading this article is no substitute for getting some hands-on real training under someone with knowledge and experience. Remember, you do have a training facility where you hang out some 16 hours a day or more.
Range time and live fire practice are expensive, and time consuming in our busy lives. But by taking advantage of your home as a training facility, you can practice and train for the biggest part of carrying a defensive firearm – actually carrying it.
The author is an NRA-certified (among others) instructor with 15-years experience teaching.