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Concealed Carry & Home Defense Training Review

Ever since I started shooting, and especially since I started carrying a handgun, I’ve been like a sponge absorbing information from wherever and whatever sources I could find.

I’ve found that much of the information out there is either highly tactical, or really specific to things like competitive shooting, or overly simplistic and repetitive. Which is why I am so glad I found the USCCA’s Concealed Carry & Home Defense Training.

USCCA to the rescue

USCCA  pulled together a set of videos and PDF downloads and printables specifically for the average person who is concerned about personal and home defense. The package includes videos on Situational Awareness and Home Defense, Concealed Carry Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, and a number of printables, including a state-by-state concealed carry law summary. The entire package is discounted now for only $27 (regularly $74) – the price of a box of good quality ammo.

USCCA Home Security Video
From the USCCA Home Security & Home Defense Video

The set includes the following videos and downloads:

  • Video – Top Ten Concealed Carry Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
  • Video – Home Security & Home Defense
  • Video – Situational Awareness
  • PDF Download – Best of Concealed Carry Magazine
  • PDF Download – Inside School Shootings- What We’ve Learned
  • PDF Download – Concealed Carry Map (carry laws of each state)
  • eBook  – 107+ Handgun Accuracy Secrets
In particular, since I’ve been really focused on improving my situational awareness, the Situational Awareness video was great, as it showed some real-life examples of how you can be prepared to protect yourself and your family if the need ever arises. Again what I like about it is they didn’t take a hard-core tactical approach, but instead took a practical, everyday life kind of approach to situational awareness.
I also really liked the Home Security and Defense video because it gave me some new  information  and easily actionable tips on how to create a home security checklist, some simple steps on how to improve home security, and a good detailed discussion of home defense firearms such as rifles, shotguns and even handguns, including an interesting discussion about some myths around using a shotgun for home defense.

Downloads and printables added bonus
A number of the downloads are great to have, including the Best of Concealed Carry Magazine that has several articles on what happens the aftermath of a self-defense incident (let’s just say my next post is going to be about insurance options, as this article really got me thinking about this issue), and various ammo, handgun and holster deep dives,

The ebook on Handgun Accuracy Secrets was authored by Massad Ayoob, Larry Correia, Kathy Jackson and a number of other leading instructors in the industry and is really focused on the fundamentals of marksmanship – grip, stance, sight picture, etc. It’s good foundational information to have, especially if you’ve not had a lot of handgun training.

While you can certainly find a lot of this kind of information if you spend a lot of time searching Google and YouTube, having this all pulled together in one package for $27 is worth it in my opinion. USCCA always produces quality content – they provide good, targeted information for everyday people concerned about self-protection.

Click here for the USCCA Concealed Carry and Home Defense Training package, now discounted to $27.

*The USCCA Concealed Carry and Home Defense Training Course is a product I purchased and used. Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission (at no additional cost to you) that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

Woman Shooting Gun

How to shoot with both eyes open

One of the more challenging things about learning to shoot for me was learning to shoot with both eyes open. This is a skill that you can learn, and one that is important if you carry a firearm for self-protection. Just like training to shoot one handed, learning to shoot with both eyes open will serve you well in the event you ever need to use your firearm while under duress.

Learning to shoot with both eyes open takes some time, patience and practice. Here is the approach I used:

  1. Bring your attention to an object 15-20 feet away from you – your “target” or sight picture.
  2. Hold a pen or pencil out at arms length, then focus on the tip. This is the “stand in” for your front sight.
  3. Start first by focusing on the pen tip with one eye, then the other – notice how your sight picture changes based on your dominant or non-dominant eye.
  4. Now open both eyes, still focusing on that pen tip. Note your sight picture.
  5. Rinse and repeat.

You’ll find that after some time, you’re able to quickly acquire the sight picture. Every time you go to the range, take your time and practice shooting with both eyes open. You may need to first focus with one eye, then open both eyes, focus and take the shot. In my experience, my accuracy improved greatly with my “both eyes open” shots than my one-eye open shots, and I found that the more I shot with both eyes open the easier it became.

More from the experts

One of the best people in this field is former Navy Seal Chris Sajnog. He has lots of great videos and books to help you improve your shooting skills. His video below, Eye Dominance and How to Shoot with Both Eyes Open, shows exactly what you should expect to see as you learn to shoot this way:

If you are training primarily for self-defense, learning to shoot with both eyes open is just one more skill you should learn. Do you shoot with both eyes open? Why or why not? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

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3 tips to improve your situational awareness

As I noted in my earlier post Do you have the mindset for concealed carry?, I’m really focusing on improving my situational awareness – or in laymen’s terms, simply paying attention to what’s going on around you.

This is a constant challenge for me as I’m not hardwired to think this way but I’ve realized, especially as I’ve been carrying a handgun, t
hat I need to improve my situational awareness.

Woman Walking Dog

Here are  3 tips to improve situational awareness that I’m starting to incorporate in my daily life.

  1. Head Up. This is probably the most important tool in the situational awareness arsenal. Keep your head up. That means not walking and texting or looking at my phone, or fiddling in my purse. It means head up and looking at what’s around me. Not only is this key in improving situational awareness, but it also makes me look like a less tempting target, because my shoulders are back and I exude more confidence.
  2. Note people and exits. When you enter a building or a room, such as a shop or a restaurant, note immediately the location of key people (cashier, manager, patrons, etc) and exits. If there were an emergency you’d want to know how to get out quickly.
  3. Use all your senses. This isn’t just about visual awareness, your hearing is just as important. I’m always surprised when I see women jogging alone with their earbuds in. You will never hear someone approaching you from behind, or a car approaching the intersection. My family and I were in a shopping mall recently when an angry protest broke out on the second floor. We only realized it because we heard the chants and shouting. Rather than walk toward the sound as many others did we promptly headed toward the closest exit and to our car.

Perhaps the most important tip is to practice. Every day. I have to remind myself when in “transition” times such as walking from my office to the car, or leaving the house, to keep my head up and observe my environment. I would love to know your tips for improving situational awareness too – please comment below.

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Do you have the mindset for concealed carry?

I had a situation happen to me recently that led me to question whether or not I had the proper mindset for concealed carry.

I was driving down a busy city street and as I approached an intersection, I accidentally cut too close in front of a white panel van.  I waved “sorry” to the guy behind me, who was clearly upset and yelling at me through his windshield.

Then, sitting there at the stoplight, I hear a loud pounding on my drivers-side window, and it’s the guy from the van who is standing next to my window screaming at me. And as I’m sitting there, with my concealed carry handgun right next to me tucked between the seat and the console, I just keep telling the guy “I’m sorry,” in the hopes he’ll just get over it.

Well unfortunately, he didn’t. He ended up following me, and all the while I’m thinking, “Is this really happening? Is this guy really following me?” When it became clear to me he was, I decided that rather than head home (which is where I was originally heading), I headed back to my office building, which has a security guard stationed at the entrance [in hindsight, I should have headed straight to the nearest police department while dialing 9-1-1, but hindsight’s great that way].

Once I got to the office, jumped out of my car and headed inside to the security desk, the guy finally sped out of there – all the while cursing me, and finally screaming out his window, “I’ll find you.”

The second guessing

Almost as soon as the incident was over, I began to second-guess my actions. First was my initial and continuing disbelief that this was really happening. That some nutjob was first getting out of his van at an intersection to scream at me through the drivers side window, and then that the nutjob actually continued to follow me.

Second was my panicked choice to drive to my place of work once I realized that he was, in fact, following me, where he could certainly find my car and possibly wait for me at some later date with who knows what intentions.

Third was my decision to not be more aggressive with him when he first approached my window, letting him “see” my handgun and forcefully telling him to “back off.”

Situational awareness is the key

The first issue, that disbelief that this was actually happening, is actually very common.

In the aftermath of public shooting incidents, survivors will often say they thought the noise they heard was fireworks or backfiring, rather than recognizing immediately that the noise was gunfire. There’s an initial disbelief that their worst nightmare could actually be happening. This to me is key to the mindset question – it’s being in the “yellow” state of situational awareness and moving rapidly to red as required.

As for my choice of driving to where I work, I think it’s related to the state of disbelief and panic I was feeling because of my lack of proper situational awareness.

I admit I was only thinking partially clearly in that moment. At least I didn’t drive to my home, I drove to somewhere where I knew there would be people, but I could have picked a less identifiable option than the place I work if I had been more calm and had been able to focus and reason.

As for the third, I still believe I did the right thing by trying to de-escalate the situation rather than escalate it by exposing my handgun. The guy was clearly enraged, and who knows if he, too was carrying and if that would have just set him off? Also, I did not at that moment fear for my life, even though I was scared.

One of the 4 Rules of Gun Safety is never let your muzzle cross anything you do not want to destroy. I felt I was in the “safety” of my locked car at a very public (and crowded) intersection. Right or wrong, it was what I believed in the moment.

In the end, I was able to learn a lesson about myself and my need to focus on improving my situational awareness and mindset. It’s one thing to talk about it, it’s another to practice and live it. I’m working on the latter.

Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.

Some additional reading:

Grip Tip to Improve Shooting Accuracy

Grip tip to improve shooting accuracy

Just a quick tip today on your grip to improve your shooting accuracy. I learned this trick from one of the amazing instructors at The Site Firearms Training Center in Mount Carroll, IL and even though it seems small, it’s really improved my accuracy.

Would love to hear your tips on how to improve accuracy in the comments below!

Dot Torture Target

Practice or plinking – shooting with a purpose

Marksmanship target
Not bad for my first stage!

I love range time as much as the next shooter, but I’m also somewhat competitive, especially with myself.  I found that over time, I would get a bit bored just shooting without a purpose, so I went in search of ways to challenge myself and improve my skills in the process.

Marksmanship Program to the rescue!

One of the first things I did was download the guidelines for the NRA Marksmanship Program. Other than going for the highest level of the program (Distinguished Expert), this program is self-managed, so you basically follow the instructions for the type of firearm you wish to qualify in (and there are many) and work through the program step-by-step.

One of the challenges with this program was finding the right targets. In the Pistol Qualification program that I’m working through there are a few different kinds of targets specified – the AP-1 or AP-2 targets.

These are the AP-2 targets that I was able to locate at a pretty reasonable price from a supplier on Amazon. Good news is these are used throughout the Pistol program.

What I enjoy about the Marksmanship Program is that it gives you an objective measure by which to challenge your shooting skills – improving both your accuracy and speed to target. It’s not just putting some head shots into the latest zombie target, although that can be fun too.

Dot Torture Target
Dot Torture

Dot Torture really IS torture!

If you’re not interested in going through an entire marksmanship program and are just looking for more challenging targets to shoot, I highly recommend Dot Torture.

This target was recommended to me by one of the amazing trainers at The Site Firearms Training Center, and while this is deceptively simple looking, it really IS torture!

You start with the target at 3 yards and with 50 rounds. You need at least 2 magazines as you have to speed reload on 9 and 10. Only when you get a perfect 50 score on the target (all hits within those frustratingly small 2-inch circles) can you move the target back another yard and start again.

At the indoor range we frequent we’re not allowed to draw from a holster, so I “simulate” the draw by going to a high ready stance. I simulate the speed reload by having the extra magazine on the shooting stand in front of me, and just drop my mag onto the table.

The idea is you’re really working a lot of skills here – strong hand and weak hand shooting, quick acquisition of the front sight, and speed reloading. In fact I credit my work on this target to me winning the speed reloading “contest” at one of the pistol training courses I took at The Site because I use this target EVERY TIME I go to the range.

Let me know what some of your favorite ways are to “practice with a purpose” in the comment below – I’d love to hear about it and I’m always looking for a new challenge.

*Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

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5 tips for shooting range etiquette

Deb and Eve at the range
Deb and Eve at the Range

Recently we took my mother-in-law to our favorite indoor range for her first time shooting. She had recently completed the classroom requirement her concealed carry permit but hadn’t yet shot a gun.

Helping introduce someone to shooting is something we take very seriously, and really enjoy. At our home before we left we made sure to first discuss the 4 rules of Firearm Safety and gave her the opportunity to conduct some dry fire with the Ruger .22 pistol we were going to have her shoot first.

Once at the range we introduced her to Rick, one of the Range Safety Officers (RSOs) and he reviewed the firearm safety rules with her again and also the specific rules of the range.

It got me thinking about range etiquette, which isn’t something I had thought about much since we’re weekly visitors and take for granted what’s expected. But range etiquette is about more than just niceties, it’s about safety too, for you and for everyone else at the range.

While every range may have their own set of specific guidelines and rules, you’ll always be welcomed back if you follow these 5 basic range rules:

  1. Strictly follow the 4 Rules of Firearm Safety. You know them, repeat after me:
    1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded
    2. Never point your muzzle at anything you do not want to destroy.
    3. Know your target and what’s behind it
    4. Finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot
  2. Obey all commands of the RSO. The RSO is the ultimate authority at the range. If you hear a “Ceasefire” command then IMMEDIATELY stop shooting, place your gun down with muzzle pointed down range and step away from the firing line awaiting further instructions from the RSO. Hands off the gun! Do not touch or handle your gun during a Ceasefire, not until the RSO calls “Commence Firing” or “Range is Hot.”
    • One interesting note about the Ceasefire command is that the RSO is not the only person who can call it. Anyone on the range who notices something wrong or a safety issue can call Ceasefire, which then usually gets repeated by the RSO. Here’s a good article on range commands and how to behave when they’re called.
  3. Gun always pointed down range. If you’re following the 4 Rules of Firearm Safety your gun’s muzzle
    The Side Slide Swipe
    Courtesy Ammoland.com

    should ALWAYS be pointed down range, but it’s such an important point it bears repeating. It can be easy to get distracted, turn to look at what’s going on in the lane next to you or to talk to a friend, with your gun in your hand. Suddenly you’re muzzle is pointing where it shouldn’t be. Another common example of this is when you’re racking your slide – the guys at Ammoland call it the “Side Slide Swipe.” The natural tendency when holding the grip in your dominant hand is to turn the gun sideways in front of you to rack the slide with your non-dominant hand (see the photo, right). When you do that, however, your gun is now pointed directly at the shooters next to you. It takes a lot of practice, but remember to always turn your BODY not your GUN.

  4. Keep your gun in a case to and from the firing line. Bring the case with the unloaded gun to the line and place it on the shooting table, don’t uncase it somewhere else and then walk it to the line. Same is true when you’re done shooting. Bring the case to the table and unload and case the gun before leaving the line, always remembering Rule 3 – Gun always pointed down range. I love these small range bag inserts that unzip all the way to also serve as a gun rug on the table.
  5. Clean up after yourself. Police your brass in the way the range wants it taken care of, dispose of all used targets in the appropriate receptacles, put away any range property you used (stools/seats, rifle stands, etc), pick up and dispose of any garbage and make sure you’ve left your area as clean (or cleaner!) as it was when you arrived.

If you follow these 5 tips for shooting range etiquette you’ll have fun and stay safe.

*Note that some of the links in this post may generate a commission that will help support this site, although that in no way influences my opinion or review. Please see my full Disclosure Statement here.

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The family that trains together – mother daughter pistol training

My husband, daughter and I learned how to shoot together as a family.  When we made the decision to purchase our first gun (a beautiful vintage M1 carbine) we discussed how we wanted our then 12-year-old daughter to at a minimum understand firearm safety. What ended up happening, however, is she fell in love with shooting – both rifles and pistols – and in fact has become quite good at it.

In the first six months after hubs and I both got our concealed carry permits and purchased our first handguns, we realized we had outgrown the basic pistol training offered at the local range and went in search of something more. What we found was an amazing facility, the Site, run by an amazing guy, former Navy Seal Jim Kauber.

The Site was just starting to offer “civilian” training that season, rather than being exclusively focused on military or law enforcement. Jim was not only tolerant of us bringing our daughter, but was downright supportive of it.

We attended a 2-day basic pistol course that spring, with some of the best instructors I’ve ever met, learned a ton, and gained tremendous confidence in our skills. We went from being very new with handguns to SAFELY moving and turning to the target in just 2 days. At the end of the last day, there was a friendly “shoot off” competition. I ended up paired in the first round against my daughter, who despite shooting a .22 pistol that jammed twice, nearly bested me to the second round. Our bookish, studious, slightly geeky girl was a kick-butt shooter. She was so proud of herself, and we were too.

How about you? Any fun, interesting or memorable training experiences to share? I’d love to hear more.