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Concealed carry and clothing selection

One of the issues we discuss in our Concealed Carry Fundamentals course is clothing. After all, your personal defense weapon will have to cooperate with whatever clothing you choose to wear on a given day. So it pays to think through how that is going to work in the heat of summer as well as the cool of winter.

Winter is by far the simpler season for concealed carry, as you are more likely to wear a jacket, vest  or other outer garment that will provide adequate cover for your personal weapon. Summer gets trickier as you strip off layers and make your torso more visible. I tend to vary how I carry my weapon by season; in winter, I’m much more likely to carry outside the waistband, with my weapon hanging on my belt and covered by a sweatshirt or jacket. But what if I take off my jacket at a restaurant or in a store? Here in Texas, open carry is allowed by law, so generally speaking you’re OK if your weapon shows. But people around you might feel uncomfortable at the sight of your sidearm, and in reality many businesses prohibit open carry in their premises.

Carrying inside the waistband provides additional concealment, and that’s mostly how I choose to carry. But, wouldn’t you know it, my normal pants weren’t built with extra space to accommodate a 9 mm handgun in addition to my growing girth. So I’ve had to buy up a size or two to make room for a comfortable carry experience. Women generally have the option to carry in a purse, and being as this is America and, all we have many creative products available from sharp entrepreneurs to make that a simple – and elegant – process. And yes, there are some nice man-bags out there too, all specifically designed to make drawing your weapon a simple process should the need arise.

You have many clothing options as you consider carrying a concealed weapon. Come join one of our classes and we’ll discuss these issues further.

– Tom

 

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Shooting sports – it’s like golf, but with hearing protection

I didn’t really know, until I started shooting regularly and in competitive formats, that competition shooting is a lot like golf. Meaning, of course, that it can be highly frustrating as well as highly satisfying on any given day.

The motivational theory of periodic reinforcement comes in to play in both sports, drawing people back time and again hoping for a reward on every swing or course of fire. That one tee shot that you send straight down the fairway 170 yards, or that shooting match where you crush a challenging target arrangement – these positive reinforcements keep you coming back for more. Like a rat in a Skinner box pounding a lever and hoping for a food payout, we step up and take our best shots over and over again.

A Skinner box and rat. The rat learned a variety of behaviors through positive and negative reinforcement in the box.

I’ve played golf in the past – I have a very dusty golf bag in the back of the garage and some grass-stained golf shoes under a bed somewhere to prove it – but lately I’m engaged in the shooting sports. More specifically, pistol shooting. The parallels with golf are kind of funny to think about, and the investment you can put forward in either sport is equally astonishing.

You can start with equipment purchases. How many different brands/types/quality of golf clubs are on the market today – drivers, woods, putters, chippers? Are they building computer chips into golf clubs now? Cause it kind of feels like you’re investing in a new iPhone with some of these clubs. Then you need golf shoes, golf balls (I need a lot of these), a golf bag (must be stylish), a golf shirt, a fashionable hat or visor, a glove, and maybe even a golf cart.

Some of the basic accessories one can purchase to enhance stature on the golf course.

Likewise in the shooting sports, you can invest tidy sums in equipment and accessories, starting with your pistol ($300-$4,000), a few holsters ($20-60 each), some spare magazines so you don’t have to reload as often ($25 each), safety glasses ($15-150), hearing protection ($40), a quality belt to support the gun and holster ($80), maybe some upgraded sights or a smoother-pulling trigger to aid your performance ($150 each), a year’s supply of ammunition (don’t ask), then a range bag to carry it all out to the shooting range ($50).  Oh, and a cleaning kit to clean the gun after a match ($20) and a shooting shirt ($60) because, hey, you need to be stylish even on the range. Then it’s time to buy more ammunition.

Some of the shooting accessories one might need or find useful.

In one of my first outings the shooting range some years ago, just learning how my new revolver worked, I came across an older gentleman shooting a $3,000 1911 pistol. I didn’t even know what a 1911 pistol was at that point, but he let me shoot it and I instantly fell in love.  Still am in love with that one, a Wilson Combat.

A Wilson Combat 1911…so awesome to shoot.

I eventually invested in a compact version of that style pistol that is easier to carry. Now I just need to get started upgrading the sights, scoping out a new trigger, adding a rail so I can attach a flashlight, maybe even a grip-mounted laser or a red dot sight to improve my accuracy.

With all of this investment, it’s like I’ve taken up golf all over again – but with loud bangs and hearing protection added. (Although some golfers I know generate loud bangs when their tee shots veer into the parking lot and start bouncing off parked cars.)

Some of the hearing protection and eye protection options available for the shooting sports.

I worked in retail marketing some years ago and golfed fairly often – a few times with the senior vice president running that business. I recall him giving me a hard time about the “piece of –it clubs” I played with. The image just didn’t fit golfing at that level. I eventually caved and bought some newer clubs.

Whichever sport you choose, have fun, do it safely and know that you don’t have to invest heavily to be in the game.

 

 

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I hated guns. Guns kill people. But then…

Tania Weber recounted those words to me recently at an IDPA shooting competition when I asked what got her into competitive shooting. A petite and intense 36-year-old mother of two, she had joined the competition to help hone her gun-handling skills and to get in some practice with one of her handguns.

Tania wasn’t always interested in guns, and told me her early view was that “guns kill people,” and she wanted nothing to do with them. Her view eventually changed, and my heart just ached as she told me the story of how she came to be standing on that gun range that afternoon.

Tania was sexually assaulted at age 18, a horrifying experience for her that is never far from her thoughts, even 18 years later. She told me of being held at gunpoint, pinned down, a sock stuffed into her mouth, and of the terror she felt before the assault was broken up and the attacker fled.

She said that wasn’t the turning point for her, that she didn’t consider getting a gun at that point.

She skips ahead in her story to another incident that was a wake-up call for her, a scary Halloween night when she was home alone handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. She opened the door to one group – three young men, masked, but not carrying any bags for candy – and she knew trouble was on her doorstep. Thinking quickly, she called out, “Honey come look at these masks” as though someone else was home. That gave the young men just enough pause that she was able to muscle the door shut and lock it.

We pause the conversation for a few minutes to rejoin the shooting squad to tape up targets, then resume amid the sound of gunshots as the next shooter moves through the course of fire.

Tania Weber shooting a stage at a recent IDPA pistol match.

Married a few years later to an ex-Army man who kept all kinds of guns, she still had no interest. But when they decided to open a property management business that would have her showing properties to strangers at all times of the day and night, her attitude changed. The risks were just too great to not have some type of protection with her.

She approached her husband and told him, “Show me how these stupid guns work.” He gave her a brief overview, then sent her to a local shooting range for some private instruction. It proved more difficult than she expected, and she had to really push herself. In her first lesson, she felt intimidated by the instructor, a burly man with a hardened demeanor that just put her off.

After her first shots, she put down the pistol and had to stop. I asked what made her stop at that moment? One issue was the instructor, who made her nervous. Another issue, she said, was “The power – knowing I could kill someone.” The gravity and responsibility of owning a gun was suddenly very real for her, and it took a few minutes for her to overcome the emotion and get back on the firing line. “I’m not a quitter,” she said, and she carried on. Soon she had her concealed carry license.

After she had children, she suffered several additional personal safety incidents; one when two men followed her home from Hobby Lobby and blocked her in the driveway at her mother’s home (she had a gun in her purse and pointed it in their direction, and they moved on), and a second when she came home and realized a burglar was in the house. She was 8 months pregnant with a toddler in tow, but had a gun on her hip. She told me she wanted to take action, but she just froze – she couldn’t draw her gun. Fortunately, the burglar fled, but the incident made her realize she needed to learn how to use the gun – that just carrying it wasn’t enough.

In 2012, she joined an all-women shooting group, A Girl and a Gun, (http://www.agirlandagun.org/), where she learned about maintaining situational awareness, about gun handling basics, and then competitive shooting. Her experience there was a far cry from that first shooting instructor who had so intimated her. “This is all women, and I just love that,” she said. That day I shot with her at the range, she had come with four other women from A Girl and a Gun to put in some practice time. She shot her first IDPA state competition in June, and is participating in her first nationals match this month.

Tania still wrestles with the demons of that sexual assault. She told me she recently met with a therapist who is helping her understand and address the deeper emotional trauma that still lingers. And she apologized for getting in to so much detail about these incidents, even though I had asked. Telling her story helps her to let go of the trauma and takes the power away from her attackers, she said.

Today, Tania owns a variety of handguns, and like all who carry concealed, she wrestles with how best to carry a gun in her day to day life. She wears dresses most days, and that presents a challenge for carrying a gun. But she manages it. And with young children in the house – ages 2 and 4 – she is vigilant about handling and storing a gun. “It’s either on my hip or in the safe,” she says.

And she moves on with life – raising a family, spending time with friends – and maintaining situational awareness and the skills she will need should those with ill intent darken her doorstep again. It’s a day we none want to face, but Tania, better than most, understands the threat and the need to prepare.