Do you have the “necessary” skills to effectively carry?

Using the word “necessary” in any conversation can be a bit dangerous.  Necessary can be very subjective and it can be hard to support your claim.  It is even more dangerous when a good portion of people reading your opinion may very well disagree.  However, I believe that each and every one of us that carries a firearm for defense or has one in the home to protect the family at one point or another need to take a long hard look at our skill set and decide if it is truly what is necessary to get the job done.  My initial thoughts on this originated after meeting numerous individuals that already had their CCW permit, yet couldn’t perform what I would call the necessary basic skills with their firearm.  In this article I will be laying out the skills that I believe are the absolute basic necessities for anyone carrying a firearm for defense.  These skills are listed with the assumption that you are already proficient in and diligently execute the 4 rules of firearms safety and administratively loading/unloading the pistol.  I am also focusing purely on the “shooting skills” as any good instructor will tell you that the proper mindset and situational awareness are just as important as your shooting ability.  Avoiding the gunfight is better than winning it.


Let’s start out by getting the gun out of the holster; The Draw.  You can be the greatest shot in the world but if you aren’t proficient with your draw stroke, clearing concealment clothing, and presenting the gun on target quickly very little else will matter.  The draw can be slightly different depending on your carry position, but the fundamentals are all the same.

If you have a good, clean draw stoke that you can repeat every single time you’re ahead of the game. Putting accurate rounds on target is a given.  The necessary skill is the ability to deliver those rounds quickly, accurately, and on multiple targets if necessary.  Think back, did your CCW class cover multi-target engagements with multiple rounds on target?  I would love it if we lived in a world where every criminal operated solo.  Unfortunately, there could just as easily be 2 or 3.  The ability to put accurate rounds on target each and every time take constant training and practice.


Many statistics show that the averaged armed engagement last between 3-5 seconds. Needless to say, time is of the essence when using a firearm to defend yourself.  One of the skills that takes the longest to perform is clearing a malfunction.  The beauty of modern defensive pistols is that quality ones are very reliable.  That also means if we don’t force ourselves to practice clearing malfunctions our skill at that task will quickly diminish.  Whether applying immediate action or conducting an extended malfunction drill the ability to perform efficiently and correctly may very likely save your life.  Be honest with yourself, could you close your eyes, be handed a firearm with an unknown malfunction, correct the malfunction and get the gun back in the fight?

Reload close up

The majority of armed encounters for civilians only see an exchange of rounds in the single digits.  So admittedly, the need to perform an emergency/slide lock reload as a concealed carrier is pretty slim.  The need for a tactical/retention reload though….pretty high if you’ve fired a few rounds from your pistol.  That malfunction we were just talking about…might require a reload to a fresh magazine.  Or legitimately, what if you do need to reload after shooting those 6 rounds in a G42 or G43?  There are most definitely better ways to reload than others.  Everything from where you carry your extra magazine, how you grip it, and what you’re doing with the pistol in the process comes into play.

It took me some time early on in my shooting career to learn these skills.  The most difficult part is that we don’t know what we don’t know.  I have taken a number of concealed carry and handgun classes over the years.  I can say with firsthand knowledge that some of them were excellent, and others taught the student just enough to be dangerous, as false confidence without the skills to back it up is a very dangerous combination.  If you are serious enough about your safety and protecting your family to take the steps to legally carry, make sure you are serious enough to get well trained.  Evaluate instructors, read bio’s, examine class content, and make a well informed decision.  I say this because it is not out of the realm of possibility that your instructor will be subpoenaed and the content of the class you took scrutinized if you, as their student, are ever involved in a defensive shooting.  If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Tactical Skills Development at or email us at

Have a plan, get trained, and stay safe.


Draw (Concealment focused)

Quick and accurate multiple shots on multiple targets (Fundamentals of executing the shot paramount)

Reloads (Emergency & Tactical)

Clear Malfunctions (Immediate Action & Extended Malfunction Drill)

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