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.
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.
*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.
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:
Bring your attention to an object 15-20 feet away from you – your “target” or sight picture.
Hold a pen or pencil out at arms length, then focus on the tip. This is the “stand in” for your front sight.
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.
Now open both eyes, still focusing on that pen tip. Note your sight picture.
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.
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.
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!
We go to the range to shoot as a family, and to keep things neat and organized we went in search of the BEST range bag for the needs of either a single shooter or a small family. It took awhile, but we found the most versatile solution in the Vertx A-Range bag.
While big enough to hold everything the 3 of us need at the range (it’s 10″x12″x19″), it’s not so huge that it’s messy and overwhelming. By way of comparison we also have the 5.11 Tactical Range Bag which is much bigger (10″x21″x14″) but is not as well organized as the Vertx. We take the Vertx to the range every time and relegate the 5.11 bag as a supplemental bag for when we go on weekend-long training classes and are hauling tons of ammo.
“Garage Deck” Feature
One of the ingenious features of the Vertx A-Range bag is the ammo “garage deck.” When you open up one of the sides, you have two pull-out “drawers” with mesh inserts that can be used to hold ammo and accessories.
In addition, the lining on the flap is all Velcro. I ended up buying a small pack of Velcro and adding it to the back of the included magazine pouch so it could be easily attached to the inside flap of the bag. This keeps both the magazines and ammo secure and easy to access. The mesh pockets on top are great for holding our autoloaders.
When we get to the range, we set the bag on the rear table, unzip the flap (which lays flat and can also do double duty as a gun rug), and then we can each reach the ammo we need right from one of the convenient drawers.
Great interior o
The inside of the Vertx A-Range bag is also well organized, with a rigid bottom and several side pockets to store small items. In the top compartment we’re able to fit 3-4 handguns (we like to use these small zip-up range bag inserts that fully open up to serve as individual gun rugs), and 3 sets of ear protection.
There’s another side zipper on the opposite side of the “garage” that doesn’t open up all the way but is wide and deep enough to accommodate all our eye protection, our compact Real Avid gun tool and a small bag with emergency cleaning gear.
What I love about this bag is it’s not so huge that it would seem too big if you’re just going to the range by yourself (especially if you like to bring several handguns with you), but it is big enough to accommodate the needs of several people all at once.
Security on the go
Finally, one of the nicest additional features of the bag is an integrated lock-down system – a looped coated metal rod through the bottom and halfway up the side where the zipper locks through – that allows you to attach a cable to secure the bag (and the zippered main compartment) to a locking point inside your car.
For us, that’s been great since our favorite indoor range is about 30 miles away and we frequently plan stops for dinner or errands on our way there. Knowing we can discretely leave the range bag secure in the back of the SUV is comforting.
We’ve been using this bag continuously (at least weekly range dates) for the last several years. It’s held up amazingly well and shows very little signs of wear. The zippers, handles and stress points are all high quality and show no sign of giving up any time soon. For us, it’s been well worth the investment.
*The Vertx A-Range bag is a product I purchased and use. 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.
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 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.
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.