AAR - March 9, 2013 - Concealed Carry Handgun
3T conducted a 1 day Concealed Carry Handgun Course this past Saturday, March 9th at the Beaver Valley Rifle and Pistol club.
We had a total of 8 students, made up of the the following: We had two female students - one female who is a senior engineering major at Carnegie Mellon, the other a dental assistant from Baldwin, a social worker from Beaver County, one guy who owns his own IT business, a guy who does software development, an engineer for an oil and gas company, a guy who owns his own pet-sitting business and works part time at Dick's Sporting Goods, and a guy who works as a supervisor at the same oil and gas company as the engineer mentioned above.
So much for the typical stereotype of a gun owner being either a gang member or a redneck hillbilly.
Weather was very good - about as good as you can expect for early March in Western Pennsylvania. Lot's of sunshine and temps in the 50's. It did get colder later in the evening during the night shoot, but a very good weather day overall.
The skill / experience level of the students in this class varied somewhat but definitely leaned towards the lower end. That's fine with me - it actually makes my job as an instructor easier - instead of trying to break people of lots of bad habits, I can just instill correct ones from the word go.
On the topic of bad habits, we had one that reared it's ugly head during this course to the point of epic porportions - and that is placing the index finger of the support hand onto the front of the trigger guard. This happened over and over again with almost everyone at some point or another. Let me be clear about something here - if you have been shooting with your index finger on the front of the trigger guard, your grip is wrong. Placing the index finger of your support hand onto the front of the trigger guard compromises your grip, which makes it less stable, and thus greatly reduces your ability to mitigate recoil. This is a perfect example of life imitating art - gun owners see actors do this in movies and TV shows and think it's the right way to grip the pistol. It isn't - AT ALL. It's not the worst bad habit a shooter can have, but it's up there.
The ridges and / or textured area on the front of your trigger guard isn't there for your finger. It's there to aid in stabilization if you ever brace the trigger guard against a barricade / cover while shooting. Your finger has no business being there, and if you are putting your finger there, you're doing it wrong.
We started the day off with a detailed safety and emergency procedures brief. This takes up the first 30 - 45 minutes and gets everybody on the same sheet of music as far as what is expected from everyone on the range regarding safety rules.
We moved onto the fundamentals of handgun marksmanship up until lunch. It definitely took some time to get people comfortable. I think probably 50% of the class had never drawn a pistol from a holster before, so the pace was very slow going at first.
We did the first half of the day without cover garments to get technique down before drawing from concealment.
Right, Amy in the standing position that I teach. She had a lot of fun at this class.
After getting everyone dialed in on the basics and doing some live fire accuracy diagnostics, we broke for lunch.
After lunch we moved into the concealed carry portion of the course. I started with a briefing of the different types of cover garments and how to correctly draw the handgun depending on the type of cover garment you are using. If you've never been professionally trained in how to do some of this stuff, it can be quite the eye opener.
After doing some shooting when drawing from concealment, we started doing some distance shooting. I do this in pretty much every pistol class I teach. I do this because it is a very big confidence booster for the students, and it debunks the myth that nobody can hit anything with a pistol from beyond 25 yards.
Below, J.W. engaging steel at 63 yards. With his Glock 26. Yes, he hit the steel. Multiple times. (J.W. is not shooting at the paper targets to his left. There is an orange piece of steel out near the tree line. It's tough to see in the picture, but it's there.)
Another shooter, Ed, also got multiple hits on the steel at 63 yards with this Beretta 92. The Beretta 92 is an accurate handgun - and there is the end of my positive comments on the weapon. It's an ergonomic nightmare and a very, very difficult weapon to master. Having a manual safety, decocking lever, and a Double Action / Single action trigger on your pistol all make your life as a shooter significantly more difficult that it has to be. Get a Glock or an M&P and watch all those headaches just magically float away.
I tried to get as many reloading repetitions as possible. Here, Sarah conducts a combat reload....
After the distance shooting, we moved into drawing the pistol from concealment while seated - both from a regular chair and from behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Below, PAFOA member BadAtScreennames draws and engages from the seated position. Amy to his right.
In another pic, Geno engaging from the seated position. Even though sitting in a chair, it's important to continue to lean forward and BE AGGRESSIVE.
Excellent job of maintaining aggressiveness here by Geno
After the seated position we moved onto to engaging threats from behind the wheel of a vehicle. We discussed many factors involved in doing this correctly, including setting up your cover garment to allow you to access your handgun.
One of the most important issues is the seat belt factor. Can you draw your handgun with the seat belt buckled? (Whether you can or not largely depends on if you are right or left handed. It's easier for those of us who are left - ie. correct - handed. ) If you can't draw your handgun with the seat belt buckled, do you have a plan to disengage the seat belt? Have you practiced this? If not, it's just a theory. These are things you need figure out BEFORE a real world situation presents itself.
In the picture at right, Chris draws from behind the wheel. Note his finger is not on the trigger, and he is not muzzling his legs.
Below, Dave engages threats out the drivers side window. Yes, this was done live fire - everyone in the class fired live rounds from inside the vehicle.
In the below pic, Ed engages from behind the wheel. Note two things: 1) Muzzle blast. The slide has just begun moving towards the rear as this picture was taken. 2) The index finger of Ed's support hand on the front of the trigger guard. This is what I was talking about above. Sorry Ed - this is the only picture I have of someone doing this, but it was on ongoing problem all day long. Ed did great through out the course and engaged the steel multiple times from 63 yards. At some point throughout the day, EVERY student had the index finger of their support hand on the front of the trigger guard. Some habits are tough to break.
And yes, if you hadn't noticed, seeing a finger on the front of the trigger guard drives me mildly to moderately insane!!!
After engaging from inside the vehicle, you need to either A): get out of the danger area by hitting the gas, or B): get out of the vehicle. You are trapped and static inside a stationary vehicle. Not good. In the pic below, Chris exits the vehicle with his weapon ready after engaging multiple threats while seated behind the wheel.
We finished the day with a low light shoot, which was a first for everyone I think. I don't have any pictures of the low light shoot. I kind of had my hands full during it and just wasn't able to take any pictures.
This was a really good class. Everyone came ready to learn and worked hard. No egos nor Zombie Preppers were present - thankfully. There was a lot of excellent feedback and discussion among everyone - both formal and informal. There is a lot that can be learned from student input, and it's a staple of every course I teach.
Jay Cunningham from Low Speed - High Drag stopped by and jumped on the line to shoot his wheel gun a bit. Jay and I are very like minded, and his observations and input are always welcome. Jay was running a new holster from Dark Star Gear that looked very solid. Check out their stuff at www.darkstargear.com
My goal with every class I teach is to have everyone have a good time and learn. I think that goal was met at this class.
Please keep stopping by the site for upcoming classes. We will be significantly adding to the course schedule in the next few days.
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All comments and questions are welcome.