Gun Digest

Why You Need a Concealed Carry Class

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Attending a concealed carry class can dramatically change your outlook on armed defense — not to mention give you vital insights into criminal behavior.
Attending a concealed carry class can dramatically change your outlook on armed defense — not to mention give you vital insights into criminal behavior.

The headline read, “Unnecessary Tragedy: Gun Collector Murdered.”

I have uploaded a lot of reasons for law-abiding citizens to be armed at all times to But this article was different.

The story spelled out how an 82-year-old gun collector was led at gunpoint into his upstairs bedroom and smothered to death by two thugs. After snuffing out his life, the murderers went about stealing their victim’s lifetime gun collection.

The tragedy taught a grim lesson: Being a gun owner isn’t enough. You need the gun on you, and you need to be prepared to use it.

Do You Really Need a CCW Class?

Personal Protection Academy students qualify on the indoor range and get expert “hands on” instruction to improve stance, grip and trigger control.

Attending a concealed carry class can dramatically change your outlook on armed defense — not to mention give you vital insights into criminal behavior. You’ll learn how to shoot and train to thwart an attack directed at you or your family. But the shooting is only part of the training. In my case, I was amazed at how much I didn’t know.

The staff of Gun Digest and a few select guests recently attended a one-day self-defense handgun class taught by Michael and Jennifer Bender of the Wisconsin-based Personal Protection Academy. I was left with a renewed appreciation for just how serious this arm-bearing responsibility truly is.

Bender — a Certified Permit to Carry Pistol Instructor with the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification and an NRA Distinguished Expert Marksman (Handgun) — is one intense dude. Some people you never want to mess with. Bender is one of those people.

I’ve been shooting handguns for many years. And while I thought I knew everything there was to know about firearm safety, I was wrong. The basic rules of firearm safety from the hunter education safety courses of my youth —which served me well in the hunting field — were fine starting points, but things get serious in the world of tactical handgun.

Differences in safe revolver handling, for instance, vary dramatically from those of semi-automatics. The details seem at first minute; but the results could be life-changing if you fail to learn them.

Do you know why you should always clear your auto-loader three times? Or how long you should wait if you experience a hang-fire? A good instructor can teach you handling techniques to deal with these contingencies — tips that could prevent a future negligent discharge.

A Sobering Reality Check

Bender outlined the speed armed attackers can unleash their violence upon their intended victims (hint: it’s a matter of seconds, on average), driving home the need to have a gun within easy reach, on your person.

But simply carrying the gun isn’t enough: You learn about the human reaction — that is, stress — one experiences when facing a lethal force situation. Stance, grip, target acquisition, holster and firearm/ammunition choices are all made ahead of time — cemented into place with serious training — such that the adrenaline rush you will experience in the moment of truth doesn’t render you incapable of functioning when you lose basic fine motor skills.

Perhaps most striking are the raw statistics Bender pointed out. For example, you learn where an attack is most likely to occur, what the average distance is between attacker and “victim” and how many shots are typically fired in defensive gun uses (DGUs). All of these facts help when adopting a training regimen, gun and gear, and when preparing mentally.

Dual Threat from Perpetrators and Prosecutors

Too many gun owners think self-defensive uses of firearms are a straightforward affair: Kill the attacker. Become a hero. Go home.

Such a notion is pure fantasy. As a long-time reader of Gun Digest author Massad Ayoob, I was well aware that the legal maneuvers of criminal prosecutors and the anti-gun media might be just as dangerous to your freedom as a perp with intent.

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There really are two battles one must prepare for (arguably three if you consider the personal emotional toll shootings have on survivors): the battles on the street and in court.

Experienced tacticians understand they must know what conditions a prosecutor will later exploit. The events leading up to a shooting are just as important as those that occur during and after. Can you articulate to a jury that you spent every possible effort to meet these conditions?

A good instructor will make these considerations a central part of the curriculum and drive them home with strong words.

Consider a post-shooting scenario: Your attempts to avoid a confrontation with evil have failed, and your gun training has paid off — your shots found their mark. The bad guy is on the ground. A crowd is gathering. Now what?

Despite the shock that is beginning to set in, you now need to keep your wits about you and consider some questions. How much should you tell the police when they arrive on the scene? If you’re still holding your gun, will the police mistake you for the shooter? Will you be arrested and what rights should you assert? Should you call the police first? Should you call your attorney?

Michael Bender demonstrates proper stance and operation of a semi-automatic handgun.

Bender answered all of these questions and more. He gave practical advice that was easy to remember — and even this was by design. In fact, it has to be easy to remember. That’s because in the excitement involved in a shooting, your ability to handle the aftermath of a violent encounter has to be as second nature as your ability to draw and fire your handgun accurately.

Under stress, you will do what you trained to do.  If you don’t train, you’ll likely freeze; if you train wrong, you’ll act wrong. If you act wrong, by-standers are wounded, crippled or killed and you will likely be killed. And even if you do survive, not knowing any different you could make one well-meaning yet utterly fatal statement to the police that an anti-gun prosecutor could use to put you away for the rest of your days.


Whether you carry a self-defense handgun openly or concealed, you owe it to yourself and those around you to take the time to get properly trained. A concealed carry handgun class represents the best opportunity to tap into the expert tactical knowledge historically taught only to peace officers. If you do, be prepared to be shocked at what you don’t know. If you don’t take this advice, don’t be surprised if you under-perform when faced with a violent criminal—or a savvy prosecutor.

To learn more about the Personal Protection Academy, Click here.

Defend Yourself

Defend Yourself by Rob Pincus is the most complete and practical guide to home defense available today. Drawing from experience helping law enforcement, military, private security and people just like you understand how to protect themselves or others, Rob Pincus presents detailed information about planning for, training for and, ultimately, defending yourself and your family from a violent predator inside your home

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