Towards the end of December of 2014, I made a decision that would further immerse me into the world of firearms and shooting. A close friend, who also shares my enthusiasm for gun culture, told me about his experience regarding how he came to get his concealed carry license. The conversation sparked my interest, and I ultimately decided that I would like to get my license as well. I spent about a week researching the process and learning about the rules and regulations concerning the Ohio concealed carry laws. I then got to the task of choosing an instructor, in order to complete the mandatory class that I needed in order to apply for my permit. I did not know any instructors personally, and the friend that originally got me started on the idea lived in Northern Ohio (about 3 ½ hours away), so I couldn’t ask him for advice on an instructor.
After looking at a few websites, I ultimately decided on an instructor, essentially at random. I ended up having a great experience, and I continue to have a good relationship with my instructor, even after completing the course. My instructor ended up being very knowledgeable, well-rounded, and had years of real-world experience with firearms and combat training. Looking back, however, I just got lucky when it came to choosing an instructor. While I was very satisfied with my concealed carry class, the whole experience prompted me to consider why it is important to make sure that you end up with an experienced and well-rounded instructor for your concealed carry class, although they really apply to ANY tactical weapons training class. Here are my top three reasons:
- Safety. I am not talking about the very basics such as, “Don’t point the gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot”, or “Always treat a gun as if though it were loaded”. While these rules are very important and should always be followed, it is my opinion that you probably shouldn’t be taking a concealed carry class (let alone handling a firearm) if you aren’t already familiar with these. The questions that I am referring to are, for example, “If I want to carry with a round chambered, what are some firearms that are better suited for that”? Or “What kind of holsters do you recommend that allow for a quick pull, but still keep the firearm secure while carrying”?
These questions are an example of why you want an experienced teacher. Someone who has been carrying and working with firearms for years should be able to answer these questions or know someone who can. If you are out in public, and some person, who didn’t have an experienced instructor that they could ask these kinds of questions to, drops their firearm and it discharges, no amount of training or good instruction will keep you from getting shot if their muzzle is pointed in your direction. But if we all make the active decision to only go to experienced and qualified instructors, we can reduce the likelihood of situations like this occurring, and we can make sure we aren’t the person dropping their firearm.
- We aren’t weekend warriors. When I decided to get my concealed carry license, my intention wasn’t to strap a .50 Caliber Desert Eagle around my waist to show-off to my family at a 4th of July party. Personally, I feel more secure knowing that I have a firearm with me, especially when driving long distances. There are many other reasons that factored into my decision, but my point is this: I actually carry a firearm almost every day. I did not pay hundreds of dollars (between the class, application fees, carry pistol), so that I could just add another card into my wallet or try to impress my friends. I go out in public, quite often, with a concealed firearm. Anyone reading this should feel better knowing that I actually had an experienced and knowledgeable instructor. How would it make you feel if I had said, “Yeah, I carry a gun all the time in public, but my instructor had no idea what he was talking about and he shouldn’t even be teaching the class”.
My overall point is this: It is my opinion, that once you start paying for weapons training classes that you “graduate” out of the weekend warrior or occasional hobbyist category. We carry the skills that we learn in these classes out into the world with us for better or for worse. One day, I might have to use my concealed carry weapon in self-defense and I would like to believe that the knowledge and training I received from my instructor will serve me well. So for both our own wellbeing, and for the sake of everybody around us, we all should stick to qualified and experienced instructors.
- Build working relationships. As the law currently stands in Ohio, a concealed carry license is valid for five years. After five years, you can apply for a renewal without having to take the class over again. So, in theory, when I go to apply for my renewal in 2030, I can legally have not fired a handgun in 15 years (since you need 2 hours of range time only to apply for your first license). How would you feel about someone carrying around a handgun in public without having fired it in 15 years?
I would never do this, and I try to shoot at least once a week (weather and budget allowing). However, it would be legal to renew my concealed carry license under current Ohio law, without having fired a firearm in 15 years. My point is this: You need to continue to train and practice with your concealed carry firearm on a regular basis. Now, I have embraced the “gun culture” and I enjoy both training and maintaining my firearms on a regular basis, so this wouldn’t be an issue for me. I plan on continuing my interest in shooting and firearms for the rest of my life. Having an experienced instructor gives you a resource that you can continue to learn from, down the road. Even if you do not take any additional classes with them, you can seek advice from them later on. For example, if you wanted to purchase a new firearm, you could go to them and ask if they have ever shot one, or ask if it would be a logical choice for a concealed carry. An experienced and well-rounded instructor can refer you to other legitimate instructors or contacts in the gun world. They can be a friend, a mentor, and/or another resource available to you while you continue to practice.
A knowledgeable and experienced instructor can be a great resource in many aspects of firearms and training. They can be an expert to ask questions to, or they can be a friend that you can go shooting with (or both). You might even need to use what they have taught you to defend yourself or others. It will benefit not only yourself, but the entire community as well to only go to well-versed, experienced instructors. At the very least, you are getting your money’s worth. But at the very best, it could save your life.
By Nick Em’