Archive | May, 2013

What to Pack for Self Defense and Firearms Classes

8 May

Attending your first firearms training class can be a daunting experience when it comes to planning and deciding what to bring along. Thankfully, we can learn from the pros who host these classes and those who have already taken several trainingImage courses.

The very first thing you should do once you’ve signed up for a class is to begin making a list. The class presenters will provide you with a generic list of things you’ll want to bring. Add this to your own list and begin writing down things that apply to you personally.

Items like:

  • Your personal medication
  • A favorite hat to keep the sun off
  • Supportive shoes
  • Water bottle or Camelbak
  • Bandannas

You’ll want your clothing to be functional, comfortable and tough. Cargo pants or army surplus BDU pants work great. They have the freedom of movement you’ll need and the deep, secure pockets that are handy for extra ammo, glasses, and snacks.

Put all your extra gear like raincoats, knee pads, knife, and sunscreen in a duffle bag or backpack. The bag should be something that you can carry around easily and find things inside without too much digging.

Trainer and Author Steve Collins has another piece of advice when it comes to what you should pack in his article, “What Do I Bring to Class? It Can Make or Break Your Training Time,” on

Bring plenty of ammunition! I usually bring one-third more than the course syllabus calls for. It’s easier to allocate funds for ammo at home base than to have to scramble around after the first day of class to find a shop that has some training ammo. Trust me on this, the nearest big box store (which is usually a long ways away) won’t have enough ammo for you, so bring your own. Test fire your ammunition in your gun before you go, and make sure your firearm functions with that particular ammo. (Read Steve’s full article on gun safety and other training here)

If you aren’t sure if you should bring an item, just throw it into another bag, and stow it in your vehicle. If it happens that you DO need something in that bag, it’s much easier to retrieve it from the car than from back at home!


Concealed Carry: How to Safely Negotiate Traffic Stops

2 May

Sooner or later most of us will find ourselves being pulled over for speeding, a tail light out, or something else.  Any traffic stop has the potential to escalate, and CCW permit holders who are in possession of a firearm need to tread even more lightly to avoid a potential dangerous confrontation with police.

Start by pulling over immediately. If an officer “lights you up” on a street, pull to the side as soon as safely possible. DonImage’t try to be helpful by pulling into a parking lot as this can be seen as an attempt to evade. If the officer wants you to pull off the main street they will advise you through the PA system on their patrol car.

An officer approaching your vehicle will be on edge and looking for any indications of trouble. Help them out by turning off your engine, this will help allay any suspicions that you intend to flee.

Know where your firearm(s) are located in the vehicle. Some states require you to inform an officer of the presence of firearms. Other states do not. It’s your choice (and dependent on the situation and law) to tell the officer that you have a firearm. You may opt to keep that information off the table unless the officer asks. Either way, if the presence of a gun does come to light, you’ll want to be able to say where it is quickly and clearly.

NEVER keep your gun inside the glove box. A request for your registration and insurance is almost guaranteed, and if you open the glove box and the officer sees a gun (they will) you’ll almost certainly find yourself staring down the barrel of the officers own weapon while orders are being barked.

During the stop, the officer might make requests of you, such as showing your driver’s license. Keep in mind that while you may know where your license is, the officer does not. Verbalize your intentions. Tell them, “I will get my wallet out of my back pocket. Is that ok?” Get their consent before taking your hands off the steering wheel and reaching into your pocket.

 Former police officer Duncan Mackie describes what he does when he’s been stopped by the police in his article, “Handling Police and Armed Citizen Encounters,” on

“Every situation is different, but here’s what I do: First, I lower my tinted windows, and if it’s a night-time traffic stop, I turn on my interior lights. I tell any passengers to let me do the talking, to keep quiet, and to keep their hands in plain sight. My hands stay in full view on the steering wheel, and I make no sudden moves. I present my driver license and CCW to the officer when he approaches me. With my hands in plain sight, I tell the officer, calmly and politely, that I have a CCW, that I am carrying and where the pistol is, and I ask what they want me to do. (Read more about presenting your CWP in the full article here)

One of the reasons Duncan recommends turning on your interior light and rolling down your windows is it allows the approaching officer to see what is happening inside the vehicle. Any surprises during a traffic stop aren’t welcomed by the officer, and it’s virtually impossible to see inside a vehicle at night that has heavily tinted windows. For all the officer knows, someone inside the car could be pointing a gun at them on the other side of the darkened glass.

 Learn the laws of your state, remain courteous, and follow the officer’s directions explicitly. If you do, you’ll be able to safely navigate just about any police and armed citizen interaction quietly and safely.