So you spent two days in a classroom, took a written test, shot a 25 round qualification, and got your Concealed Carry Permit.  Now what?  If you’re a responsible (and reasonable) person, you’ve probably realized that this is no where near enough training or practice to strap your smoke-wagon to your leg and be ready for whatever the gods have in store for you.  But like most, you probably don’t really know the next step. Here’s a quick guide:

1: Sign up for a class with a real instructor!  This is a fast track to shooting success.  Depending on your fundamental skills, you may want to start with your local NRA instructor. AND THAT’S OK!  You will go much farther, much faster, if you get some solid shooting fundamentals under your belt before going to someone to learn how to draw quickly and reload on the move. Learn to shoot tight groups on demand.  Try shooting “The Test”: From a ready position, fire 10 rounds into a NRA B-8 bullseye target at 10 yards, in 10 seconds.  Score the target.  When you can put 7 out of 10 rounds in the black, on demand, you’re ready for some skills training.  There are a lot of great instructors out there, both on the local and national levels. Just because a teacher/instructor is local, doesn’t mean they’re not good at what they do. Likewise, just because an instructor is on the “National” level, doesn’t mean they are that good.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the worst classes I’ve ever been in were with “National” level, former “cool guy” instructors.  Get with someone you have seen shoot if you can.  You’ll be able to see their techniques and skill level right away, and if they can’t shoot, they probably don’t need to teach.  If the class is good, you’ll be able to walk away with a list of skills and drills to practice.  Don’t expect to leave a two day course and be Wild Bill Hickock. Take notes, video, pictures, etc. of things you need to take back home with you to practice.  You’ll probably never learn as much in another class as you will in your first. Shooting skills take time.

2: Buy 1000 rounds of ammo: You need to practice! If you’ve taken a course with a good instructor you will have a blueprint of things to focus on.  This is where the real work is done.  Take the things you have learned and refine them.  Practice is an art, and there really are better ways than others to do it. Maybe you took a class but were overwhelmed and didn’t take notes…Not to worry, there are some really great resources out there to help you practice.  Obviously you’ve got us at http://Practicalperformance.org to help you along the way. If you haven’t been to http://Pistol-training.com then you’re missing out.  The late, great, Todd Green assembled tons of great content about practicing as well as drills and free printable targets to go with them!  Save it to your favorites because I have no doubt you’ll be back there again.  Around 2010 I was really in a shooting plateau. Pistol-Training.com, and Todd specifically, really pushed me out of my comfort zone and over my plateau.  Mike Seeklander at http://Shooting-performance.com is also a great resource for drills and information.  Mike’s books are also great plug-n-play programs to jumpstarting your own practice and training programs.  I have used Mike’s books and videos as well as attended his classes and there is a wealth of information for your use. I’m pretty sure he’s even allowing folks to download some of his e-book versions for free right now.

3: Get medical training: Not only to help others, but to help yourself as well.  CPR and AED classes are great and easy, but look to some classes that are more trauma oriented.  TCCC may be more than you really want to get into, but there are some great First Responder and Individual Trauma Care courses out there.  Here’s a secret: You have a higher likelihood of using these skills than any of your fighting skills.  Keep up with them.

4: Get some hand to hand skills: It’s no secret that I despise H2H.  That being said, I still practice and get training in it.  Seek out training and trainers that are willing to train multi-disciplinary skillsets.  Thus far, the best person I’ve found for this is Craig Douglas at http://Shivworks.com.  Craig’s classes incorporate hands, knives, guns, and the often overlooked verbal and recognition skills.  Be prepared, you’re gonna work in these classes, but you’re going to learn a lot.  If you have the means, get into a jiu-jitsu gym.  I don’t think disciplined jiu-jitsu is the answer, but I can say without a doubt that those with rolling experience tend to fair far better than those with little to no experience in wrestling or fighting.  And if you’ve already got some jits skills, learn to throw blows. Standup boxing I think is a very overlooked fighting style that truly sets fighters apart. A wrestler who can box is far more dangerous than one who can’t. 

These are just the tip of the iceberg. Some of you may find that not all of this is within your ability, either physically or, more often than not, financially. That’s ok. Do what you can with what you have. Remember, dry fire costs little to nothing. 

Now, grab your gear and get out there and practice!