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Why your CCW class isn’t enough

Why your CCW class isn’t enough

If you’re like most people who read this blog, you’ve already been through a CCW class of some sort. (CCW, of course, stands for Carrying a Concealed Weapon, which is a catch-all term for the practice, licensing and study to carry a handgun concealed on your person. The term ‘CCW class’ is generally applied to the courses which the law requires to be able to apply for a concealed handgun license.)

The CCW class is the first exposure many people have to the practice and legalities of carrying a pistol or revolver. It’s usually an introductory course, and in many states (mine included) is done completely in the classroom. Because they’re required by law, CCW classes are focused on where and when you can carry — not on what you should do when that gun leaves concealment and ends up pointing at a bad guy. In fact, I’ve seen many classes where (if shooting was involved) drawing the gun from a holster wasn’t included!

The problem is that CCW classes are also too often the LAST exposure many people have to defensive gun use. They’re almost universally inadequate to develop the skills really needed in a defensive shooting. In too many cases, any skills they teach are irrelevant to actual self defense.

I’m not condemning all CCW classes, mind you. There are no doubt people out there who are giving their students a good education on all aspects of defensive gun use. They are, however, in the minority. I see very few good CCW classes in my travels. What I see leaves students with a very incomplete understanding of how attacks happen and how to defend against them.

You need to go beyond your CCW class. Why? Because it taught you what you need to get your concealed carry license, not what to do with it.

What skills should you be learning?

So, if so many CCW classes are found wanting, what should you expect to learn?

You need to develop the ability to defend yourself against an attack you didn’t see coming. That means the class needs to have a counter-ambush focus. A good defensive course should educate you so that, if you were to walk out at any given point in the class, you’d be better able to defend yourself against a surprise attacker than you were when you started. That means skills need to be relentlessly relevant. They need to be taught from the very first shot. And they need to be developed and expanded every minute the class runs.

Most CCW classes, however, are built on older formalized bullseye shooting doctrine. They’ll start not with teaching the students how to shoot someone who’s attacking them, but how to shoot recreationally. That’s a mistake, because violent attacks — the kind that demand a lethal force response — don’t look anything like what’s taught. The human body has specific reactions to lethal threats, and those reactions need to be factored into the curriculum. They affect, or should affect, what and how we teach and train.

Purely and simply, your additional CCW education needs to be focused on what you need to do to stop an attacker. That means how to deal with your natural reactions and how to convert those reactions into responses that efficiently stop the bad guy from doing whatever it is that made you draw your gun.

You need to learn how to recognize when to draw your handgun. You need to be learn to shoot from the natural threat reaction posture you’re likely to find yourself in. You need to learn how to get the gun into a firing position that works with what your body and visual systems are doing. You need to learn how to deliver rapid, multiple, accurate shots into the area that will likely lead to your attacker’s incapacitation. And you need to learn how to do all that while fixated on the threat, with reduced tactile sensation in your hands, and while trembling.

Get the training they didn’t give you

Very few, if any, CCW classes teach these things, yet that’s what you need to learn. Don’t let the fact that the state issued you a CCW license lead you to believe you’re actually ready to defend yourself. Get the additional training that teaches you what you need to know (and how to do it) when evil shows up at your doorstep.

Because he won’t care about your shiny new license.

– Grant Cunningham

P.S.: You’re probably wondering why I’m complaining instead of developing a really good CCW class. I have, actually, and I hope to see it launched by small national group later this year. Stay tuned.

Now you can LISTEN to the blog!


  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On August 22, 2016
Tags: CCW, integrity, teaching