Most of us consider ourselves competent and skillful process servers and private investigators. We’ve had years of on-the-job training and have even furthered our skills through professional organizations like ILAPPS. Many of us are also concealed carry license holders or FCC holders. However, I wonder how many of us would consider ourselves professional concealed carry license holders or FCC holders. Are we still learning and practicing the skills to be competent in the firearms field, or did our training stop the day we received our licenses in the mail?
The decision to carry and possibly use a firearm is a weighty one, and we ought to train for that possibility. Should the day come when we use a weapon, our actions before, during, and after the incident will be examined in excruciating detail. Everyone from law enforcement officers to lawyers to friends and family will dissect everything we did or didn’t do and pronounce judgment on it. The consequences of a split-second decision will last a lifetime, and I, for one, would hate to wonder why I wasn’t better prepared when the time came.
So how do we become professional concealed carry license or FCC holders? Below is a list of things we can do, both to improve our skills and professional mindset and to morally and ethically prepare for the possibility of using a weapon in a dangerous situation.
Get rid of the swag. You are a professional, not a cowboy. It’s time to ditch the “Insured by Smith & Wesson” and “I don’t call 911, I call .45” stickers and t-shirts. Should you ever have to use your firearm in self-defense, the swag will become a liability, and any prosecuting attorney worth his or her salt will point to such things as displaying signs of a predisposition to shot first and ask questions later.
Choose your ammunition carefully. Remember that you’re using firearms for self-defense, and your ammunition had better reflect that choice. Avoid “exotic” types of ammunition that brag about lethality (such as R.I.P. ammunition). My pick is Hornady Critical Defense. If someone asked why you chose that ammunition, you can point to the name as indicating that it’s meant to be used in defense.
Third, start reading. You’ve heard the adage that ignorance is no defense, so subscribe to a gun magazine that focuses on concealed carry, and read it regularly. You’ll find articles about improving your weapon skills plus relevant legal developments and even accounts of self-defense incidents that went right or wrong. Remember that a prosecuting attorney will have a more difficult time maligning your preparedness if you can show that you’ve been keeping up on self-defense law and defensive techniques and skills.
Get insurance. We insure our cars, our homes, and our businesses. So why would we not want to insure ourselves against incidents using a deadly weapon? Not to do so would be foolhardy. If you’re new to the self-defense insurance marketplace, the best place to start is at the USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association) and NRA websites. There are plenty of insurance plans out there. Study them carefully, do your homework, and choose the one that’s right for you.
Get training. When was the last time you were at the range? Shooting skills are perishable, so keep them fresh by visiting the range once a month or at least every other month. Remember, though, that standing exactly seven yards from your stationary target in perfect lighting using your best Weaver stance isn’t training, it’s target practice. Training involves challenging yourself. In addition to regular target practice, start taking advanced concealed carry classes or classes that explore shoot–don’t shoot scenarios. Find a range or a property where you can do low-light shooting, shooting from cover, or shoot-and-scoot exercises.
Get first-aid training. You may have already spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on weapons and training, and you may be mentally prepared for the possibility of having to use your weapon someday. But have you spent time thinking about what happens after you’ve used your weapon? If the state gives permission under a narrow set of circumstances to take a life, don’t you have a moral and ethical imperative to try to save that life once the threat has been neutralized? Take a critical-first-aid class specializing in firearm trauma so that you know what to do if the situation arises. Once you’ve taken the class, buy a critical-first-aid trauma kit and take it wherever you go. You’ll never know when you might need to use it. It might save someone else’s life, or your own.
I hope that these suggestions get you thinking and provide some inspiration. I also hope that they provide a starting point for your continuing education and help you strive to become a firearms professional. The general public is watching us as process servers, private detectives, and armed professionals. Let’s try to make sure that our interactions with the public impress upon them that we are skilled, that we are serious, that we are professionals, and that we are worthy of their respect.
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