Concealed Carry Training: What To Expect From A Course

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The surge in crime in the US has prompted many to look at a handgun for self-defense, and in doing so, many people want to know what to expect when they do a concealed carry course.

In the concealed carry training course, you will learn how to load, unload, safely handle and transport your firearm, how to strip and clean it, store it safely and learn the law regarding the use of deadly force, states that have reciprocity, and basic marksmanship.

You would also expect to learn about other laws that apply to concealed carry, as well as where you may and may not carry your gun.

Depending on the course and instructor, you could also learn some fundamental self-defense techniques, so let’s arm up and find out more!

Concealed Carry Training

The Choice To Carry Concealed Should Be Carefully Considered

Before we get into the course content, you need to consider the responsibility you are taking on here carefully. If you are opting to get a handgun for self-defense and then to carry, remember that the act of shooting, wounding, or killing another human being is traumatic and not what you see in movies.

One of the most important questions when choosing to carry a concealed weapon is whether you are mentally prepared to shoot another person and deal with the consequences of that action.

Your course instructor should take you through the legal ramifications of this action, but you need to decide whether you can do so. If you decide you are not, then a non-lethal method of defense is better.

Once you pull the trigger, your life and the life of the person you shoot will never be the same again, so please ponder this carefully and, if necessary, consult or talk to the course instructors if you have any doubts.

Do You Need Your Handgun To Do A Concealed Carry Course

No, in most cases, you don’t need to own your gun to do a CCW (Carry Concealed Weapon) course. However, not having your own handgun may put you at a disadvantage, as the gun you use in your training may not be the one you eventually buy.

However, gaining a CCW Certificate before buying is not bad. This will also expose you to different types of guns and get some advice and experience on which gun would be a better option for you in terms of caliber, capacity, and carry weight.

In most cases, people attending the concealed carry training course have bought a gun and now want to learn how to use it. It would be better if you have your gun so that you become familiar with the controls as well as the weight, recoil and draw, and fire options

Depending on your state, you may (or may not) be required to do a live-fire exercise as part of the CCW training; if required, you will need your handgun to do the course. If this is not a requirement, you could do an online course over an in-person option.

Do You Need Your Handgun To Do A Concealed Carry Course

Online Concealed Carry Course Vs. In-Person Training

Since you will learn how to handle a lethal weapon, an in-person course would be a better option as the practical and personal elements would benefit more than a virtual course.

In the past and at the peak of COVID, the in-person option was not always available, but as COVID restrictions relax, one-on-one or group courses are back on the table, and the experience of the practical course elements rather than virtual would be more beneficial.

There are also tactical handling and coaching elements that you may not get from an online course. Of course, the interaction with other attendees adds value and a sense of camaraderie – and you may even make some new shooting buddies!

Some states may require shooting proficiency as part of the course and educational competency. This element requires that you shoot and place five shots on a designated target from distances of 7 yards or more.

ON average, armed self-defense encounters happen at that range, so choosing a CCW course that includes this as part of the curriculum makes sense. It’s all very well doing the course online, but you won’t get pressured to shoot from different positions you could encounter in a deadly defense scenario.

CCW instructors will often make trainees shoot from odd positions like sitting down as if you have fallen or been pushed over, shooting from behind doors or around corners as you may have to do in real life- you can’t get that from an online course.

State -To-State Reciprocity

Aside from the legal aspects of carrying concealed and when you could and could not use your gun in self-defense, you will also cover which states have reciprocity regarding concealed carry.

In essence, this means that you will learn which other states would recognize the legitimacy of your concealed carry permit and allow you to carry your gun in that state legally.

Is Online Training Accepted As Competency

You would need to check with your state authority whether your online training course competency would be accepted in terms of educational standards in your state. There are three standard components when doing a concealed carry training course.

Classroom training where the instructor would cover all the necessary information and materials related to concealed carry. This would include the laws governing the use of lethal force and practical elements of handling, transport, cleaning, and storage.

There may be a live-fire requirement, and the third element is the written exam.

In some states like Delaware, Illinois, and Kansas, online training for concealed carry is not permitted at all, while other states such as Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Rhode Island, North Dakota, and Ohio, to name a few, also do not consider online training as acceptable for competency.

These states require both live-fire and personal training as a requisite for competency. Considering the number of shootings and accidental deaths and injuries, a more practical approach to your CCW training would be preferable.

How Long Is A Concealed Carry Training Course

How Long Is A Concealed Carry Training Course

You could expect between one and four hours of actual training if you do an online course, while a live course usually runs about 8-10 hours. This can be spread over a weekend or a week, depending on how the course is structured.

While most of the time is usually allocated to theory and classroom instruction, the second third or so is allocated for range and practical elements of shooting and handling.

How Much Does A Concealed Carry Training Course Cost

An online course could be as little as $40, while one-on-one training courses can run from around that price to as much as $175, but for the most part, concealed carry classes would be between the $70 and $100 mark, which is not bad considering the amount of info you’ll be getting.

If live-fire exercises are needed, check whether the ammo cost is included and whether any additional fees may apply, so you don’t have any unexpected bills at the end.

Live Fire Vs. Dry Fire

In most cases, the range element of your course will deal with both live-fire and dry fire exercises. Live-fire involves discharging live rounds at targets, while dry firing means firing the unloaded gun with an empty chamber.

Dry Firing Is A Great Way To Train At Home

Once you have done some practical work at the range in your class, it’s always good to keep up your training, and one way to do this is the dry-fire exercise.-

The dry fire exercise is one of the exercises you will get to do at home to become more familiar with your gun. You do this mainly to get a feel of the trigger, so you know how much trigger-pull force you need before the gun fires.

It is a good way to become more in-tune with your gun of choice and see whether any modifications to the trigger pull would be needed to make it smoother and permit better accuracy and consistency.

It is also a good method to train in the safe loading and unloading of the gun and clearing the chamber, using the safety and if the gun has an external hammer, practicing cocking, uncocking, and using the half-cock position if available.

It is also a good way to prepare for the live-fire exercise during the practical aspect of your concealed carry training course and while you don’t have the recoil, muzzle flash, and noise of a live round. It does give you a good sense of how it feels to aim and shoot the weapon.

To do the dry fire safely, remove the magazine and rack the slide to ensure the chamber is empty; you can then replace the magazine to replicate the weapon’s weight, then you can cock the hammer and pull the trigger on an empty chamber.

Also, practice engaging and disengaging the safety, which is a critical part of handling your gun and ensuring safe concealed carry practices and overall firearm handling.

The Four Basic Firearm Safety Rules

Another part of the concealed carry course training should be the basic firearm safety rules, and these apply when you handle ANY gun, from an air-rifle to your carry gun.

  • Rule 1 – Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. If you are handed any gun where the slide is not locked back, never assume the gun is not loaded. It is very poor practice to hand any person a loaded gun. If you aren’t sure how to check that the weapon is safe, ask the owner to show you or know how to check it yourself.
  • Rule 2 –  ALWAYS point the muzzle in a safe direction with no people or animals downrange. Also, NEVER look down the barrel and if you are on the range, keep the muzzle pointed downrange whether the gun is loaded or not.
  • Rule 3 – ONLY put your finger on the trigger when ready to shoot. This will prevent accidental discharge. As part of the course, you will learn to draw and point the weapon but have your finger on the frame and only move to the trigger when ready to fire.
  • Rule 4 – Always keep your firearm unloaded. This means that you don’t have a round in the chamber when storing your gun, so you need to rack the slide to load it. Unloaded can also mean having your magazine removed and stored separately, as is often required when transporting guns. However, when you are carrying your gun, it would be loaded with the magazine inserted and a round in the chamber.

Firearm Maintenance

As with any tool with moving parts, firearms must be properly maintained. That means being able to strip the weapon down and clean out the barrel, clean the springs and associated parts, apply lubrication and then reassemble the weapon.

A dirty, grimy gun is at risk of poor performance, and knowing how to clean your gun safely is an integral part of concealed carry training so that you can expect both practical training and homework on this aspect.

Another part of the maintenance aspect is that you will be able to see the working parts of the gun and gain a better understanding of its inner functions. Plus, being able to correctly disassemble and reassemble the gun will ensure you clean all the parts, not just the major components.

Choosing The Right Holster

Another element of a concealed carry training course would be discussions of and explanations around holsters. Using the right holster is imperative to ensure the gun is safely secured on your person when you carry it.

With such a variety of holsters available, it can become a minefield to try and pick the right one for your gun and one that will be comfortable and practical. There is no point in having a cumbersome holster that doesn’t allow quick access when needed.

The clothing you wear will also have some bearing on the type of holster you choose; for example, having a solid belt with looped pants will assist with stability of both internal (inside pants) and external holsters – each of those options would be available.

When you attend the concealed carry training course, wear the clothes you normally wear so the instructor can advise you on the best holster option for your body type and clothing type.

This is important as you don’t want to advertise the fact that you are carrying concealed by having your gun protrude or have a visible bulge ( and not that kind of bulge) that could indicate to criminal elements that you are armed as that would make you a target for firearm theft.

Choosing The Right Ammo For Concealed Carry

An interesting part of your concealed carry course would often include discussions and information pertaining to carry ammo and why it’s important to use the right ammo. One of the critical points with ammo is that you don’t want bullets that will penetrate right through your attacker and possibly strike another innocent person.

A bullet-like, typically a Full Metal Jacket round or FMJ, would possibly not incapacitate an attacker adequately and leave you criminally liable for injury caused.

Hollowpoint rounds made for self-defense specifically and designed to create maximum damage without over-penetration are usually recommended for concealed carry. A good instructor will advise you on carry ammo options for your caliber and weapon type.

The Written Test

This is one of the three elements of completing the concealed carry training course and receiving your certification. While taking exams may not be everyone’s favorite activity, a good quality training institution or instructor will have sample tests available that you can practice on.

Since training classes seek success for their students, they will have measures to increase the percentage that their attendees will pass, and practice tests are one of those, so if the thought of an exam worries you, you will be well prepared before you take it.

What To Take To Your Concealed Carry Training Class

First and foremost, your gun and always take it UNLOADED! Your instructor should check each weapon brought in to make sure they are safe, and as mentioned before, in most states in the US, you may not transport loaded guns.

You don’t want to be arrested for transporting your gun illegally on your way to your class, so make sure you know the firearm transport laws in your state before heading out.

As discussed above, wear the same clothing as you would when carrying your gun and take a notepad and pen with you. While some classes may provide workbooks, it’s always better to be prepared.

If you have questions around any aspect, write them down to address them with the instructor should they not do it, and don’t ever be afraid to ask questions because while you may think it silly, rest assured there are others in your class that want that answer too.

The only dumb questions are the unasked ones! Remember, you are there to learn and take everything you can out of that class for your money, so use your instructors’ time and expertise as best you can!


If you’re planning on getting a gun for self-defense and you can legally carry concealed in your state, investing in a concealed carry training course will give you confidence in both the practical and legal application of your firearm.

Knowing what you could expect from your concealed carry training, you can now go ahead and get your CCW certificate and defend yourself should the need ever arise.

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