Some people think the practice of carrying a concealed firearm in public begins and ends with taking a course and becoming certified. Whether you are preparing to get your license or you already have it, the following 6 tips will help you remain concealed.
There are many choices in concealed-carry gear. Just stop into your local firearms store and ask anyone there to walk you through your options. Regardless of which belt or holster you choose, make sure it is high-quality. A gun belt is thicker and sturdier to keep your holster and gun in place.
Holsters are personal: Different styles work with different lifestyles. Before you buy, try on a bunch of different brands and styles. Make sure the one you choose is comfortable and functional.
As for spare magazines, some people carry them in pockets; others may not carry any at all. I’ve personally found the NeoMag pocket clip works really well for pocket carry. It keeps the magazine in the right place and right position for easy access if needed.
Finally, your clothing: Carrying concealed may require a slight change to your wardrobe. Darker shirts, and patterns especially, help to hide printing the outline of the gun. If you carry in the waistband (IWB), it may mean buying pants a size larger. (IWB is not for me.)
The Internet is a great place to shop for options. Unfortunately, with online shopping you can’t try items before you own them. It’s the nature of the beast, and also why most of us have a box full of holsters in various stages of use.
Now that you have all your gear, practice, practice and more practice is in order. Work on your movements: standing, sitting, reaching. Can you sit comfortably? What happens when you stand up? Does the gun move? Practice getting into and out of your car. Did your holster shift? How can you correct it? Have someone observe as you reach for a high shelf. Can they see your holster? If so, how will you prevent that?
Practice drawing from concealment. Check to make sure your gun is clear of obstructions and follow the 4 firearms safety rules. With your unloaded gun, using all your gear, practice drawing from various positions, wearing different clothing. You can find out what works well and what really slows you down. Deep concealment will almost always slow you down, so you have to change strategies and tactics. No big deal.
3- Keep the Secret
As a child, it’s was always fun to say, “I know something you don’t know.” (Traditional sing-song voice is implied.) As an adult, you should keep that in mind when you conceal carry. By keeping your secret, you will maintain your element of surprise. Don’t let others know when or how you carry. What if someone asks if you are carrying? Katie Pavlich wrote about that in her recent column, “When Strangers Ask If You Carry a Concealed Firearm.” You need to be prepared to answer that question.
4- Hands Off
Be wary of telltale movements. These are movements that would cause a trained observer to know you are carrying a gun. Avoid bad habits, such as constantly pulling your shirt down. Trust that your cover garment will keep your firearm concealed. (Remember, you’ve tested it!)
If you are in public and feel something has moved or shifted with your gear, go to a private area and make your adjustments there. Whatever you do, keep your hands off in public. Some people are so obvious that almost anyone could tell they are carrying a firearm. Be more circumspect, and keep everything under wraps.
There is no reason to feel nervous when you are in public. You’ve already trained with your firearm, practiced with your gear and hopefully had someone observe your movements. Before you walk out of your house, ask yourself, “Do I look or act like I’m carrying a gun?” Remember how important it is to keep the secret!
Changing the way you move may help you feel more confident when you carry concealed. If you carrying on your strong side, start training yourself to reach with your weak-side hand. I carry on my right side at 4 o’clock, so I generally reach for everything with my left hand. When you’re at the grocery store, think before you reach…especially if what you’re reaching for is on the top or bottom shelf. For the bottom shelf, don’t bend over; bend at the knees in front of your shopping cart. For the top shelf, I’ll straighten my right arm against my gun and reach with my left.
If I have a cover garment that requires my support hand to clear it before drawing, I carry my bag in my strong hand. I drop what’s in my strong hand while I clear my shirt or coat with my support hand. I tailor my movements to my concealed-carry needs.
Don’t be overwhelmed by all that goes into carrying concealed. Take time to learn the ins and outs, then practice and train. Soon you will be comfortable and confident.
Looking for more WON articles on concealed carry? You can find many of them here.
Do you have any concealed carry tips to add?
This article was first published in Women’s Outdoor News.