#nraam Methods of Concealed Carry


Tom Marx

Discussing range of motion. Demonstrating issues with small of the back carry.

How TV influences perception. 1950’s, Dirty Harry, Miami Vice, and more modern shows like NYPD and Law & Order, NCIS.

Issues of realism and reality. Characters placing holsters too far forward with forward cants. Paddle holsters through belts.

Other outside influences. Friends and co-workers, what works for them does not necessarily work for you. Opinionated sales people. Web & blogs.

List of names of good sources of information.

Sight lines. Avoid breaking them and printing (outline of gun).

If you change your gun, your holster, clothes, or even your vehicle – than you need to re-evaluate your equipment and training.

Activity – what are you going to be doing often defines your clothes and your carry. So does the climate.

Often the more deeply and harder concealed the harder it is to draw and engage the weapon.

Other issues: gender, range of motion, injuries, weight, age, fitness. Cannot “train away”, must work around.

Most of the time you will be the “responder” and not the initiator. Always behind the curve as a responder.

Must have a mindset. Practice. Practice. Practice.

Time is NOT on your side.

Critically evaluate yourself.

Develop the skills ahead of time.

You have to WANT to survive.

Published in: on April 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#nraam VersaCarry

Came across a boot with a new holster design. It’s actually a clip holster that has a short rod that inserts into the barrel. It felt sturdy. Was reversible for right or left carry.

My only concern is protection of the trigger. The trigger is protected on the clip side. It probably unlikely rolls of belly fat are going to manipulate the trigger, so my concerns are probably overblown.

I give it credit for Wong innovative and adaptable.


Published in: on April 14, 2012 at 8:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Blue Sheep Dog expounds on “Dangerous Carry”

I once purchased a holster for my GP100. It has the full barrel shroud and a thicker barrel than the average 6″ revolver.  As such, I had difficulty finding suitable holsters that did not bust the piggy bank.

One day I purchased a used leather holster out of a “bargain box”.  I was told it was a good fit, but voiced my concern regarding the trigger not being fully covered. My concerns were dismissed.  I’ve never used the holster, while a double-action trigger pull may in fact be sufficient a defense in many situations. I am personally uncomfortable with an exposed trigger. Why?

Because on occasions I’ve found a thread of my shirt, a lanyard, a fence catch on a part of me or my garments with enough force to imbalance me or trip me up. Therefore, how am I to expect a mere 12lb trigger to be sufficient in such a scenario? It just can’t. And that’s why I am of the opinion that every holster should ensure that the trigger is inaccessible.  This is done via a combination of two methods that I am aware of:

  1. coverage –  the trigger must be covered and not exposed to external sources.
  2. guard strength – the coverage provided by the holster must be sufficiently hard to prevent an object from manipulating through the covering (eg: hard pointy object can easily manipulate a trigger through soft thin supple leather)

Apparently, I am not alone in my opinion that a holster that does not protect the trigger is inadequate for carry purposes.  While I am sure some would disagree with me. Heck, there are people out there who’ve been Mexican carrying firearms for longer than I’ve owned a gun; I am still of the opinion that it is a needless risk to safety. The less we chance to Uncle Murphy the better.

Check out Richard’s post over on Blue Sheep Dog regarding some examples he views as being “Dangerous Carry”

Published in: on January 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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REVIEW: NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home

This was a 2 day course building upon the prior NRA Pistol courses I have taken. (NRA FIRST Steps Pistol, NRA Basic Pistol, NRA Personal Protection in the Home).

The first day was largely lecture. We re-reviewed the basics. For example the NRA’s three rules of safety. (Even though most shooters tend to be more fond of the four rules. Namely the Golden Rule of “Treat every gun as if it were loaded.”

We went over the states of awareness.

  1. Unaware
  2. Aware
  3. Alert
  4. Alarm

Though many are probably more familiar with the four colored system of “White, Yellow, Orange & Red”.

The course addressed the legal aspects of carrying concealed. And the aspects of mental fortitude needed for such responsibility. We also discussed the equipment that helps facilitate carrying. What options are available (external holsters, In the Waistband Holsters (IWB), shoulder holsters, purses/fanny packs, etc. First time I have ever drawn a pistol from a purse. 😉

We then went through the procedures of drawing a firearm from a holster with and without cover.  We practiced this technique as a “dry-fire” technique.  For those unfamiliar with the term, this is where you utilize your firearm in it’s unloaded state. (Often without a magazine but my sidearm is one of the newer California rated pistols and has a magazine disconnect. Which disables the trigger mechanism when there is no magazine in the gun.)

While it can be broken down further the basics of the draw entail 4 steps (5 is you’re wearing covering).  First was gripping the pistol with our strong hand while ensuring our weak hand was to our chest safely out of harm’s way (or at least any harm of our own doing). Second was the process of drawing the firearm from the holster and rotating the muzzle out and forward. [This position that a sidearm can be fired from.]  Next we bring the pistol to a ready position in front of ourself; it is at this time our weak hand joins our grip on the pistol. The fourth stage being to extend the pistol forward while keeping it level so that you can sight in accurately. We would repeat this same process in reverse in order to re-holster. Helping to reinforce the patterns of movement.

Of course, as many states require conceal carry. We also addressed how to handle your external garmet; allowing you to access your firearm.  This is really a pre-step, maybe even a side step. Because while it is the first step in drawing, it may not be the last step in re-holstering. As you likely have to move the garment before returning the sidearm to your holster.

A couple of advantages to this method is that step 3, the ready-position, can be advantageous to training. Many ranges prohibit or look down upon drawing from a holster and firing. However, by picking up the firearm from the table or bench and bring it to ready position (3) and then extending. You essentially are practicing half your draw and shooting.  This combined with dry-fire practice can help reinforce your skills.

We were also shown proper techniques for picking a sidearm from the table. The advantage of setting it down so that your strong hand can easily pick it up and bring it to ready-stance. (In my case, being right-handed, this entails setting the sidearm down on it’s left side. So my right hand can grip the right side of the pistol.)  We also went over recovery drills. The standard Tap, Rack, Shoot (or Access as the NRA terms it).  As well as what to do when that does not work. Such as when a round is jammed next behind another and the magazine does not fall out. In this situation we locked the slide, then released the magazine. Which was followed by rapidly cycling the slide a few times and inserting a new magazine.  The funny thing here is that we were using snap caps. And my sidearm stripped the edge of the snap cap. So it required a bit of additional action to be taken in order to dislode the snap cap. [FYI, a snap-cap is a non-firing replica of a given cartridge caliber. It is design facilitate gun’s function and behavior as if it were using a bullet(except for cycling as there is no discharge of force). It is also recommended by many when doing a large amount of dry firing to reduce the wear and stress on the firing pin.]

After all of this (and quite a bit more) we went out on the range for the last hour or two of day one. However, most of the second day was spent on the firing range.

The first thing that caught me off guard is that we did not shoot from the partitions. Rather our instructor had us all stand in front of the normal firing line, using an line on the ground as a demarker.  This was one of those very odd feelings as even as a fairly new shooter, I have it ingrained in my mind that one does NOT shoot when downrange.  But the value in doing so was quite clear. On the street there is no range, and there sure as heck ain’t no partitions to give you a comfort zone to either side.  I just had to make the internals of my mind realize that I was not standing in front of the firing line. But rather we had denoted a new firing line.

During the two day course we practiced drawing from a holster and firing and returning to a holster.  There were three stages in drawing that we were able to present the gun on target.  These were the extended position of course. The ready position and the second stage upon drawing and rotating the pistol so the muzzle faced the target.  Of course, accuracy was best when we had fully completed our draw. However as a great majority of engagements on the street occur at close range. We were shown how a standard human sized target could still be hit at close ranges from the other potential firing stages. We even did an exercise entailing drawing the pistol and begining to fire at after we’d pulled and pointed the gun. And continuing to fire as we moved to stage 3 “ready stage” and as we extended the firearm until we were in our standard shooting position.

Other drills included handling for failures. We interspersed snap caps in our magazines. So that we had random failures which would require that we ran through the tap, rack, assess/shoot drills.  We also engaged in practice exercises addressing drawing when we are not directly facing the opponent.  When the opponent is standing to your left, your right, or even behind you. We explored the options available and the advantages and disadvantages. From drawing and rotating, to drawing and passing the sidearm to the weak hand which may have easier access to the target.  We had practiced how to properly pass a sidearm from one hand to the other and discussed the merits of weak hand shooting. Seeing that use of your weak hand is not limited only to situations in which your strong hand has been injured or immobilized.

As we went along, the exercises began to incorporate more and more of what we were learning. Including moving while drawing and firing. And eventually shooting from cover.  There were four of us in the class and all found it beneficial. I know a couple of us were really enjoying ourselves by the end of it all.

I personally came away with a lot of new found skills. A lot of new knowledge and a boat load of things to practice and drill.  Our instructor included a supplemental handout of dry-fire skill building drills which I am very appreciative for. If you carry, or are considering carrying, I strongly advise taking this course. I will throw out the caveat that your mileage may very depending on your instructor. I believe our course while covering the NRA material expanded the scope and depth of material a bit.  And I am very glad for this.  Just like when I took driver’s ed many years ago. My instructor made the following statement… “I am going to teach what you need to know to pass the test. I am also going to teach you what you need to know to drive and not get yourself killed.” And I’ve always preferred that approach.  Why else am I paying for instruction? I can read a book and learn quite well. But I am one who likes to ask questions, interject thoughts, and really understand “Why” I am doing something.  Courses that I have taken where the instructor was by the book, often left me with numerous questions. Such instructors are often merely parroting the book. They don’t have enough of an understanding to explain the mechanics or address the unsaid subtleties.  An instructor who is at a level where they can expand upon a book, and say “Hey, when is this a good strategy. Is it still a good strategy in situation B?  Maybe not, huh?” is always more beneficial to me. Firstly it satisfies my curiousity. Second, it facilitates my delving and self-learning. Lastly, it just gets you thinking and internalizing your understanding of the material.

So I am thankful that I have been blessed to have such an instructor for this course.  It’s always a joy to learn and have fun. However, I have felt that taking such a course is part of my duty and responsibility as one who carries a firearm. I’ve endeavored to absorb much book knowledge over the past year. I’ve read a number of books by the likes of Massad Ayoob, Jeff Cooper and more. But the advantage of a course like this is put such knowledge in action and turn it from book knowledge into action knowledge. Taking a course such as this helps me to be more confident. By that, I do not mean more confident in my ability in a gunfight.  (Albeit that does come into play a bit.)  More so, I mean that it makes me more confident in my ability to learn, train, and hone the skills that will enable me to increase the odds that I come out on top were I ever to find myself in such a situation.

– N.U.G.U.N.

Competitive Shooting: Day 1

Today was to be the monumental day of my very first competitive shooting experience.

On Thursday night I left work early. Drove from Lancaster, PA down to Glen Rock, PA. I arrived at Freedom Armory at 6:30pm. I decided to pay the league fee as well as the entry fee for the given competition. So the total cost was $45 ($25 league/$20 event). The way the league works is thus; there will be six shoots. And your four highest scores will count as your league rank.

After paying it was off to the waiting area. I got a bit of an idea what to expect from chatting with the other participants and those running the event.

First off, the question must be asked… “Why compete?”

Competition is a good way to simulate a higher stress environment for testing and training one’s accuracy, action patterns, and safe handling. As well as evaluating one’s equipment and the arrangement of that equipment.

Going into this, my main purpose has been to learn. In particular, learn those areas which I need to study and train. I have never done anything like this in my life; it is a completely new experience for me. I have a decent firearm and four magazines but I am woefully lacking when it comes to additional equipment. I have a holster, but it’s a cheap $20 “Uncle Mike” clone with a slot for one extra mag.

So it was off to the competition. And truth be told, I had a pretty rocky start. My initial difficulty was in the basic concepts of readiness. I assumed “standby” meant wait at ready. I then found myself having not loaded up. The second mistake I made in the first course was I drew when the target started to move downrange instead of waiting for it to turn. Ooopss!!!!

The first course of fire required 12 rounds. I was shooting a Ruger P-345 which is a single stack .45 ACP (8+1). I was also informed that we would be shooting what people were referring to as “Virginia Rules”. You would be penalized points for any extra shots fired. I had four magazines but I only brought two onto the range with me having decided to load my first magazine to full capacity and my second magazine to 1/2 capacity (4 rounds) for a total of 12 rounds. My thought being that such would prevent me from shooting too many rounds.

I had decided to claim a DQ on myself due to this first course of fire. I figured I had 5 more shoots and only needed my best four to count. Alas, such would not be the case. The machinery on my firing lane went on the fritz on the next couple courses. The result, I was going to have to reshoot in the next group. Truthfully, this worked out very well for me. When I went in the second time, I now had a much better understanding of how the competitive system worked. Commands. What actions I was supposed to do when. Now, as soon as a course of fire was over, I was reloading and placing my firearm in the holster ready for the next course of action.

Approximately 1/2 hour later, it was all over. And I was getting my target scored. I shot a lot better than I actually expected. Scored a 196 out of 240. I had 41 out of 48 possible shots on target. If I recall correctly, I had 9X’s (or center/bullseye hits). While not likely to be competitive for the top positions, which was not my goal, it does provide me with a decent standard upon which to compete against myself . What was important is what I have learned from the experience:

  • First, I gained some knowledge of the competitive sport of shooting. While not directly related to my self-defense. The knowledge of such actions will facilitate my continued participation in competition.
  • My holster is exactly what it is, a $20 holster. It has a few quirks that are less than optimum for competition. Namely, there is a slight lip in the front that prevents pulling the sidearm straight out. Instead I need to pull it backwards ever so slightly before raising the sidearm free. Normally when I carry, I use the holster as a cross-carry in which this issue does not present itself as a problem. But I understand that cross draw is not popular at ranges due to the fact that a cross draw can easily sweep other people – turning them into targets. Not so good…
  • The holster I was using features a slot for an extra magazine. A small flap latches shut via velcro. Using this holster in competition showed the advantage of having a stand-a-lone mag pouch on the opposite hip. Reloading my pistol requires me to reach across my waiste, unhitch the flap and remove the fresh magazine. I am pretty sure it’d be easier to just have one on the left side, grab it and pop it in.
  • A third issue with my holster is the it features a thumb-break strap. The strap cross over the back of the gun securing it to the holster. It has a button snap which must be released before one can draw the sidearm. This is not insurmountable, but…it does require particular attention to training and familiarity. One of my missed shots was due to this strap. I had failed to run my finger across it in a way to release. When I went to pull my sidearm out…it was trapped. Now I consider this very much a training issue. I had far less problems with this once I made a mental note that I had to run my thumb along the strap in a low sweeping motion – freeing the sidearm. But this just shows my point, competition is a superb real-life trainer.
  • .45 ACP, this is a big round. My Ruger P-345 seems to handle it very nicely. The single stack grip makes the sidearm comfortable in my hands (unlike the double-stack Glocks in .45). That said, while I do have better capacity than most revolvers, I have significantly less “firepower” (ammo capacity) than those shooting .40S&W and 9mm. This is NOT so much a bad thing, as simply something to be aware of. If I am going to carry a single stack in .45. Then I need to put extra training in reloading and be sure to keep an extra magazine handy.
  • Ready Status: What ready-status should my firearm be? Magazine loaded? Round chambered or not? Safety on or not? These are questions that were clearly posed to me by the competition. Truthfully, I am not sure of “my” answers yet.I made a fair number of mistakes such as failing to chamber a round before pulling the trigger. I do believe that it is acceptable for some to choose NOT to leave one in the chamber. But doing so with a pistol means that your training must focus on immediately racking as you draw. It must also bring with it the knowledge that you have just given your opponent x.xxx seconds of extra time to put one into you before you put one into him.
  • Safety versus De-cocker: My particular sidearm has a safety/decocker. For those new to guns. A decocker releases, or decocks, the hammer of the gun. Either returning the firearm a to double-action state OR to a non-fire state, and in the case of my pistol which features a safety/decocker. It returns it to a non-fire state with safety on safe.FYI, I really like the de-cocker feature.  I am also comforted by the knowledge of the safety. It’s potentially an extra layer between an accident IMHO. That said, drawing your sidearm, pulling the trigger and “nada” because the safety’s on; can be a matter of life or death. I am of the opinion that this is both a training issue and an equipment issue. Training will reveal to you whether your chosen method is satisfactory with a given piece of equipment or whether the equipment requires modification, or even whether new equipment is necessary. In fact, after the first course of fire I decided to try using the safety as a de-cocker for the remaining courses.
  • The mind: this is where much of the battle is fought. The blood coursing, the heart pounding, the nerves on edge. The brain doing it’s best to evaluate everything and take it all in, and in the end make the right decision that could decide life or death, or even more importantly – whose death. This it the muscle that requires training, so that the singles to all your other muscles become inherently natural. It’s also the tool that must evaluate how you are training to ensure whether you are meeting your goals. And the equally important aspect of knowing one’s capabilities. For all those 30 yrs olds like me who grew up watching G.I. Joe and remember the slogan “Knowing is half the battle!” – this is it!


After the competition, and the scoring of my target I chatted with to Chuck, who was running the event. Chuck also happens to be the instructor that I took the NRA courses with. He commented on a number of areas of struggle he saw. No condemnation, just encouragement, guidance and sharing of his wisdom. In particular the aspect of the safety/decocker. But he also made a comment on comfortability, and recognizing that I’m not fully comfortable with all these aspects as of yet – and that it was okay.

When he said this, I think he truly hit the bullet on the primer. As all of this is VERY new to me. I’ve been a gun owner for about 1 and 1/2 years now. I’ve had a carry permit for 6 months. And there is a certain acceptance that one must make at each level of readiness. Some will say you should this, you should that. I am of the opinion that you SHOULDN’T do anything that you’re not comfortable and prepared to do – that’s how accidents happen.

The first night after I got my carry permit and my carry sidearm. I was not yet comfortable to carry. But I really wanted too ever so much! But I was a lone. I had no formal training, I had no “Gunny” friend to show me the ropes, to ride along with…I had to work out my “defense” with “fear and trembling”. So I rode around all evening with my wife carrying an unloaded pistol. (I did keep loaded magazines in vehicle.) Part of me kept thinking, watch…of all nights you’ll get robbed – it’ll be the one night you’re carrying an empty weapon. Thank the Lord, that was not to be the case. Some would say what I did was stupid. But really, was I in any more jeopardy that I had been the rest of my unarmed life? No… and it wasn’t long until I had a magazine loaded in the grip – the very next day. All that said, I am just coming around to being comfortable with the idea of leaving a round in the chamber. We grow in stages and we grow as our experience grows.

What I am very much aware of, and what this recent competition re-affirmed; is that regardless of what I decide, I must train accordingly. And accept the risks and benefits of any given decision.

– N.U.G.U.N.

PS – I also passed out a number of my new mini-cards for the N.U.G.U.N. blog. If you got one, chime in and let me know you’re reading.

For those interested to know what our course of fire was for the evening. I have gotten permission to re-post it here. So the following is the course of fire we shot last night.




Repeat 6 times for a total of 12 rounds

Repeat 3 times for a total of 6 rounds



Total number of rounds = 48
Maximum points = 240

Start position = League shooters, gun in holster, all safety devices activated, hands naturally at side.

Start signal = Target turns and is visible.

Stop signal = Target turns and is not visible.

Sportsmen division shooters, gun in two handed firing position, some part of gun or hands touching the table.

Penalties = 5 point deduction for each extra hit (48 maximum) on the target.