How to Prepare for Your Concealed Carry Class

by Braxton Taylor

Some of us are fortunate enough to live in a state that doesn’t require a concealed carry permit to protect ourselves outside our homes. The official term for this, at least here in Missouri, is “permitless carry,” the ability to carry a concealed weapon in certain places within the state’s borders without a permit. However, whether you live in a state that does require a concealed carry permit or just want to get your CCW in a permitless carry state so you can travel and have other protections, you’ll likely be required to attend a class.

Concealed-carry classes often consist of two parts: classroom instruction and range qualification. For example, in Missouri, the class is 8 classroom hours with a 40-round shooting test. Some states, like Illinois, require 16 hours of classroom work and a shooting test.

Whatever your state requires, here are the recommendations I give my students about how to prepare for a concealed-carry class, including the essential gear, mental preparation and other items you need to bring with you.

Gear Essentials

Having the right gear is critical to a good class experience. The instructor will often send a pre-class email or post the required gear on the range’s website. Check the list long before you show up to the class to be sure you have everything you need and to give yourself plenty of time to get it if you don’t.

First, you’ll need a reliable and appropriate firearm. It doesn’t have to be the gun you’ll eventually carry, but it’s good if it is. Use a pistol you’re confident you’ll shoot well enough to pass the qualification. You can always train with your carry gun later. For now, pass the test. If your state allows you to use a .22LR semi-auto to qualify, do it. Take advantage of the lower recoil.

Sometimes, instructors will have rental guns available, but be sure to ask before you go so you won’t be left empty-handed if they don’t.

Know how much ammunition you need to bring. In Missouri, for example, you’re required to shoot 40 rounds, so a box of 50 is probably enough. However, it’s always good to bring more, just in case.

Eye and ear protection are non-negotiable. A reliable set of shooting glasses protects your eyes from debris, while quality earmuffs or earplugs safeguard your hearing from the loud noises associated with firearms (you may want both ear plugs and ear muffs if you’re shooting on an indoor range). You only have one set of eardrums and one set of eyeballs. Protect them accordingly.

Mental Preparation

Understand you are about to enter a whole new world of self-protection. Your class will likely cover federal, state and local gun laws, including when you can carry and when you can’t, appropriate and legal use of physical and deadly force, and a host of other topics. Are you ready to take it all in? Bring a positive attitude and an open mind. Be receptive to feedback and guidance from instructors, as they bring valuable experience to the table.

The bigger question: Are you ready to carry a gun all the time? Not some of the time. ALL of the time. Your instructor will likely emphasize that carrying a gun needs to be an everyday thing, like carrying your wallet, keys, and cell phone. It’s called your EDC or everyday carry because you do it every day. Not some days. Every day. Your gun goes with you everywhere it’s legal. Not just in “bad neighborhoods.” Remember, police officers carry guns all the time, even in the low-crime areas of town, because they know crime can happen anywhere. Are you mentally prepared for this level of commitment?

What Else to Bring

Besides the shooting gear and great attitude, you’ll also need to bring a few other helpful items. Let’s start with the obvious: pen and paper. The instructor might hand out a syllabus and a pen but don’t count on it. Bring your own writing tools. Taking notes helps reinforce your learning and provides a handy reference for later.

Comfortable clothing and closed-toe shoes are a must, especially for the range. Dress appropriately for the weather, and consider bringing layers to accommodate varying conditions. Comfortable attire allows you to focus on learning without unnecessary distractions. Even if the class and shooting are both indoors, the room may be too cold or warm for your liking. Also, ladies, this is for you: cover your cleavage. It’s not a modesty thing. It’s practical. V-necks are hot-brass magnets, meaning a freshly fired spent casing will likely find its way down your front. Save yourself this painful experience and cover up.

Bring a water bottle to stay adequately hydrated, especially if the class is conducted outdoors or in a high-activity setting.

Is the class serving lunch? Probably not, so you’ll need to either pack a lunch or know whether you can run out to grab food during a break.

Parting Shots

Preparing for a concealed-carry class is a multifaceted process that includes gear selection, mental readiness and a mindful approach to learning. Investing time and effort maximizes the class’s benefits and lays a solid foundation for responsible firearm ownership. Remember, becoming a responsible concealed carry permit holder involves continuous learning, practice and a rock-solid commitment to safety. Get off to a good start with a great concealed-carry class.

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