There is no substitute for hands-on training when preparing oneself for armed conflict. For those who carry a weapon concealed on a daily basis, the ability to see a threat in time to deploy the hidden handgun and get it on target both quickly and accurately is a skill so challenging that one wonders how it can be accomplished at all. Take a moment to think about all of the things that can go wrong during a draw from concealment and the deeper the gun is concealed (pockets, ankles, under a tucked shirt, etc.) the more potential pitfalls reveal themselves.
Most of the big name shooting schools offer courses of instruction just for concealed carry, which should give you an idea as to the level of importance that defensive instructors apply to the subject. But what if you can’t afford the cost of such a course. In-service training, individual range practice and dry fire will go a long way towards bridging the gap, but how does one keep abreast of new information?
One of the best ways that I have found is to use video training. Many of the schools or instructors offer DVDs of their training courses and while this is not the optimum way to learn a new skill, it certainly is better than nothing. And if a particular school or instructor, via DVD, happens to pique your interest, you can start to tuck back a few of those hard-earned bucks every pay period and treat yourself to a “gun vacation” that will not only stimulate your morale, but will also keep you ready and aware for what might come. I recently came across two new DVDs that address concealed carry applications, with both coming from well-known training institutions; they are the SIG SAUER Academy and Rangemaster.
Sig Sauer Academy
Under the leadership of George Harris, the SIG SAUER Academy has grown into one of the world’s foremost firearms and tactics institutions for higher learning. Their facility in New Hampshire is well thought-out and equipped to maximize learning and if you ever get the opportunity to go there, you should. The Academy offers a wide range of training courses, but their concealed carry program is one of their most popular and this program is highlighted on their new Professional Training Series DVD – Volume 1 Concealed Carry.
This DVD begins with a short safety briefing and then moves into selecting the concealed carry handgun, various modes of concealment and then the best methods to deploy a weapon. While SIG SAUER certainly showcases their own line of autopistols, these are not the only guns they showcase, as there are a number of Smith & Wesson revolvers in the video. It should also be noted that the SIG SAUER Academy offers a snub revolver training course, as they recognize the advantages of the snub revolver in some circumstances, which I find quite refreshing. However, what I liked best about the DVD is that they cover a wide range of concealment locations and holsters. For example, when talking about strong side belt carry, they discuss outside- and inside-the-waistband carry as well as a number of holster styles for each.
The DVD then moves on to other carry locations including shoulder holsters, ankle holsters, pocket carry, bellybands and ankle rigs. I can’t think of a single reasonable subject they didn’t touch on. Senior Sig Sauer Instructor Adam Painchaud also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each carry location and demonstrates the draw from each.
Throughout the DVD, the viewer gets a nice view of the Sig Sauer Academy’s indoor and outdoor ranges. This high quality video is well produced and gives the viewer an excellent look into methods of concealed carry and which holsters work best. It is my understanding that Sig Sauer will soon be releasing a more advanced video discussing tactical applications of concealed carry, which will certainly be a welcome addition to the series.
Tom Givens, the owner, operator and lead instructor at Rangemaster, has been around for a long time. A former law enforcement officer, Givens has been a student of the gun for 40 years and he uses a sizeable portion of this knowledge in his two-hour training video, Concealed Carry for Self Defense. Where this video differs from the Sig Sauer Academy DVD is that Givens goes more in-depth into the combative aspects of handgun deployment.
In reality, this video is more about how to fight with the handgun than how to draw a gun from concealment. Givens certainly covers this subject, but it is not the main focus of the DVD. Like the Sig Sauer video, Givens starts out discussing weapon safety and then moves right into weapon and holster selection for concealment as well as concealment locations. Givens is pretty blunt in regards to non-traditional locations such as the ankle carry, stating that they should be reserved for back-up purposes.
Givens makes it pretty clear that the best location for a concealed handgun is on the strong side at belt level. There is sound logic for this and it has to do with economy of motion. The less the hand has to do, the faster the draw will be. In the case of strong side carry, the shooting hand is only 12 to 18 inches from the gun at any given time. Why reach to some distant location to draw the gun when it can be comfortably carried close by?
Givens also talks briefly about cartridge effectiveness and asks the logical question, “Why carry a small .25ACP or .32ACP when technology now gives us 9mm and .40 caliber guns in the same size package?” Fair question, in this day and age, why would you? Givens has done an excellent job of debriefing his former students who have prevailed in shootouts and has incorporated this information into his training course(s).
Part of what he has discovered was presented at the National Tactical Invitational as part of a training lecture. What follows are ten selected cases from 46 individuals he has debriefed: Five of the ten were an armed robbery by one or two suspects; three occurred in mall parking lots, one in a student’s home; in all but one incident, all occurred within the length of a common automobile; four out of the 10 incidents involved more than one suspect; average number of rounds fired was 3.8 with the high being 11 and the low being one shot.
While this study is far from definitive, it is certainly telling in just how close and fast interpersonal conflict with the handgun really is. In reality, Givens’s small study jives nicely with the much more extensive study that the New York Police Department has undertaken over the last few decades via their SOP 9 Survey.
In the end, NYPD’s adage of “Three yards, three seconds, three shots” remains valid to this day as an indicator of what to expect if you must draw your sidearm to defend yourself. Concealed Carry for Self Defense gives me a clear explanation as to why Rangemaster is fast becoming one of the most popular shooting schools in the US.