Here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the law allows a person who has never fired a gun before to take a class online to satisfy the training requirement to obtain a Concealed Handgun Permit. Some other states also follow this mantra, but, most require some sort of live-fire and/or qualification to demonstrate at least basic proficiency with a handgun prior to obtaining a permit to carry.
Many firearm training schools market a “Concealed Carry” class to beginners, and I think that is a mistake. Before anyone carries a handgun for any reason, they must learn how to safely operate, use, and shoot it *first*. Sure, some of these courses “teach” you how to shoot, but then go on to what would be considered intermediate drills like shooting at multiple targets while drawing from a holster.
There needs to be a simple progression when it comes to firearms training in general. We do not teach infants to run, instead you encourage them to crawl so they can learn to walk. The same concept applies to handgun training. If you have never shot a gun before, you have no business taking an online course only and then carrying a firearm; chances are with limited training, your gun can and will be used against you. Concealed carry training can actually be quite complicated and complex, depending on how far the academy and/or instructor(s) delve into it.
While I cannot “force” students who have not fired a gun before to not just take our Online Concealed Carry class (above), I can strongly recommend they learn to shoot first. That is why we encourage first-time shooters to take our Basic Pistol course to learn how to shoot prior to taking any other pistol course. Of course, in order to take our Defensive Pistol or Advanced Handgun course, Basic Pistol is required and/or a pre-course qualification that involves live-fire. You must be smart about your decision to carry a firearm.
Things to consider prior to carrying a pistol, specifically for self-defense purposes:
- Are you capable of defending yourself empty-handed?
- Are you aware of your surroundings at all times?
- Do you avoid areas/locations known for criminal activity?
- Have you taken at least one live-fire class with a professional/certified instructor?
- Do you consider yourself at least an intermediate pistol shooter?
- Do you have a properly fitted holster for your firearm?
- Have you practiced drawing from that holster with your carry gun?
- Have you shot with your carry gun within the past six months?
- Do you stay up-to-date with the fluidity of self-defense and gun laws?
- Are you committed to responsibly and safely carrying a firearm?
Chances are, if you answered “No” to ANY of those questions, you should not be carrying a firearm for personal protection. I staunchly support our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, but it must be done responsibly, and in my professional opinion, it is irresponsible for a person who has never fired a gun before to carry a gun.
FFM INC is committed to delivering the highest caliber training to civilians, security, law enforcement, and our military. We offer something for everyone, from beginning to advanced. Check out our latest courses @ www.ffmva.com