If you're relatively new to the gun world and want to begin carrying concealed, where do you begin? At first, the idea can seem overwhelming, from choosing the right holster to getting your concealed carry license. This may sound like a confusing and complicated process, but it is relatively smooth and simple. The sequence is very much a "hurry up and wait" process, so approach it with patience.
Each state varies in requirements for the approval process. As an Indiana native with a permit, there are 31 other states that will honor my license to carry (to research your state, visit legallyarmed.com). Because requirements vary, it's always good to visit your state's website for application information. There, the steps are laid out in an easy-to-understand manner. The state police issue the handgun licenses in Indiana, and the initial application process is done online (including the background check). The only actions that are required in-person are fingerprinting and paying the fees to your local police agency or city county building, both of which took about five minutes to accomplish. It is important to schedule the fingerprinting (there should be a link through your state government website), along with paying your local fees right away. Until those steps get done, your online application won't even get looked at for processing. Again, hurry up and wait.
In Indiana, there are two types of handgun licenses to choose from: the four-year license or the lifetime license. Processing takes an average of 60 days. The agency will mail your license within seven to 10 days of authorization.
Choosing Your Pistol
Consider your capabilities when choosing the type of carry gun you want. Sure, asking others what they think of a particular gun is helpful — it's always valuable to hear different opinions — but the bottom line is that everyone has different experiences and different preferences. If you are a beginner, start with a more manageable caliber with less recoil, such as .380, .38 Special or 9mm. If you aren't sure, go to a local shooting range and ask to test out the firearms that you're interested in. Pay attention to how the pistol feels in your hand, its size for concealment on your body, and features such as the safety, grips, sights and ease of operation. Experiment with a few before making a purchase.
The next question you need to ask is, "What is the best way for me to conceal my firearm that allows the quickest and safest draw, while still being comfortable?" Again, your best bet for finding the best holster (and finding the best place on your body to conceal) is to try it out, and most importantly practice, practice, practice carrying and drawing! The benefits of a quality, safe and comfortable holster that fits your needs should rule out choosing a holster solely based on price. There are a number of different holsters that offer various ways to carry your firearm: appendix, inside the waistband (IWB), pocket, ankle, thigh, flashbang (in the bra) and purse carry, to name a few.
Experiment with holsters to find the one that best fits your body and lifestyle, and be sure you choose an appropriately sized gun for your physique. It is sometimes tough to determine how you'll be able to conceal a certain firearm until you actually do it. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of practicing drawing your concealed firearm from the holster. It took me several weeks of intentional range time practicing my draws and practicing around my home before I felt confident conceal carrying.
Safety And Defense
When carrying concealed, it is imperative to have more than the "minimum required training" to carry your firearm safely and responsibly. Solely because you meet the requirements for a concealed carry license does NOT mean that you are ready to overcome every situation you may find yourself in. Even some classes that are intended specifically to qualify us for concealing a firearm do not adequately prepare us.
Beforehand, research to find a reputable class before signing up rather than finding a class that gets you in and out as quickly as they can. You should feel 100 percent comfortable, confident and prepared when you walk out of class. Don't hesitate to ask your instructor questions about topics that are still unclear. If you feel uncomfortable with a subject after your course, most places offer one-on-one training with an instructor.
Home Safe Home
The ammunition you choose for home defense and personal protection while carrying should be different than what you normally practice with at the range. A hollowpoint round definitely has its advantages over a full metal jacket round. A hollowpoint round is designed to expand like an umbrella upon impact, creating a larger hole in the target and enhancing our firearm's stopping power. Stopping power is important when an attacker is in your home.
This brings me to my next point: When storing a firearm in your home, consider that you will need to hide it in a spot where it's easy to reach in an emergency situation. In the event that you need to use your gun, you'll want it somewhere convenient and easily accessible. There are a number of companies that manufacture home concealment products like shelves, mirrors and furniture. These products will disguise your firearm in an obvious and easy-to-reach place in your home. Look into several of the companies to find a suitable product that fits your firearm and ammo needs.
As you can see, carrying concealed is more than just a decision. Carrying is a lifestyle, one that must be approached with caution and care. A bullet can't be recalled, so train diligently and learn from professionals whenever possible. Carrying concealed in a safe and effective manner will leave you feeling better prepared to navigate the potential hazards of life.