Carrying Concealed—the Next Steps: The First Time Carrying Concealed in Public
A guide to the day to day routine of concealed carry for beginners.
You’ve devoted time, energy and money to acquire the right gun, holster and licensing for concealed carry. You’ve done your research on lifestyle changes, safety, ways to carry and tried numerous holsters. Countless hours and ammo have been spent at the range getting yourself ready for the big moment—the moment you take total responsibility for your safety by carrying a firearm.
It’s finally time…
Stepping out strapped for the first time can be intimidating, no matter how much confidence, training and practice you have. Don’t worry—almost every single concealed carry beginner feels the same:
“Everyone knows! They are all staring! I’m printing! I must have brandished my gun when I reached up for the box of mac and cheese!”
I promise—usually, none of those things are happening—especially if you have prepared yourself accordingly.
Picking the Right Holster
There are countless ways to carry a gun from places and position on your body to the type of holster that fits your gun. Plenty has been written on this subject and its best to cover ways to carry and types of holsters in depth and in separate posts, but I’ll touch the surface of it here.
Holsters are designed to safely and securely hold your firearm. The best holsters cover your gun’s trigger, keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, help prevent a negligent discharge, and make the gun easily accessible, yet secure, as well as protect it.
The right holster needs to do all the above, as well as be comfortable for your activities and lifestyle. Many concealed carriers have multiple holsters for multiple situations—women may choose a thigh holster for when they wear a dress and men may prefer a shoulder rig when wearing a suit. There are many different scenarios to consider when shopping for a holster and generally, not one will fit every single situation or every type of clothing you wear. Having a few choices is a good idea.
Concealed Carry Techniques and Secrets
The first time you make your debut, so to speak, don’t do it anywhere you can’t easily leave when you want like work or other commitment. You’ll most likely be distracted and focused on your firearm rather than the game, kid’s activity or your work. Plus, if things go sour, you won’t need to come up with an excuse, you can just get out of there. That being said, a leisurely outing to the local big box store during your day off is the best plan. If you are feeling a little unsure of yourself or nervous, ask your experienced concealed carrier shooting buddy, family member or friend to go with you. They’ll show you how natural carrying will become. Make sure the place you pick to cruise around allows concealed carry.
You’ll Grow Hair on Your Palms
Stop touching it! This is something all newbies experience—the overwhelming sensation to keep checking if your gun is still there. Doing this—touching it—or constantly readjusting, will draw attention, quite possibly opening yourself up to a sticky situation with security. Looking shifty is just asking for trouble. If you need to make sure its still there (it is!) or re-adjust, go to the bathroom.
Watch Your Six
One huge aspect of becoming a concealed handgun carrier is your responsibility to attempt to stay out of trouble as much as possible. This means having a heightened sense of situational awareness. I’m a firm believer that situational awareness is step one in securing your safety. Part of the mindset of carrying a firearm is protecting the innocent. However, you are not legally responsible to intervene during a situation in which using your firearm is necessary. In fact, in some states, you have a legal duty to retreat! We’re taught to avoid situations where using deadly force would be needed. Good situational awareness allows us the opportunity to leave anywhere we intuitively feel unsafe.
Don’t Leave Home Without It
The day you decide it’s too burdensome to carry a gun is the day you’ll need it. Don’t let your level of commitment to your safety…to your life…wain. If you must, go lighter and smaller—any gun is better than no gun. This also means always carrying your concealed carry permit or license if your state requires one. I keep mine with my driver’s license—which is always with me no matter what. The only time you should break this concealed carry rule is when going to a place where it is illegal to carry.
Self-defense is a right that cannot be taken away. Choosing to exercise that right outside your home is a noble and empowering, if not a little scary, decision. It’s okay and even normal, to feel nervous the first time you leave the house carrying a firearm. There are 16.5 million concealed carry permit holders in the United States—so you are not alone. Take these tips to heart and you will do just fine the first time you conceal carry.