A Texas CHL should be the beginning, not the end of your training

When we consider people who choose to buy a gun for home or personal defense, there is a broad spectrum on the amount of time, effort and ammo expense that individuals are willing to dedicate to become proficient.

At the low end of the spectrum are those who buy a handgun, MAYBE take it to the range once,  load it, stick it in their nightstand, and consider the task complete.  They figure they’ll be able to handle the task if things ever go bump in the night.

Next up are the folks who periodically head to the range.  They practice the fundamentals of safety and keep their skills on how to operate their firearm’s controls.  Good stuff for all of us to practice as often as we can.

The next stop in the spectrum are folks who take some level of classroom training such as an NRA basic pistol course taught be an NRA certified instructor, or often, the Texas CHL class.   The Texas CHL class is a wonderful course.  The topics are exceptional and you will learn a LOT in one day.  But leaving the CHL class thinking that you are a high-speed, low-drag operator is a mistake.   The Texas CHL course includes classroom content on safe handling and storage, and basic marksmanship skills.  However, the primary focus of the CHL class is to teach you Texas laws pertaining to use of force and concealed carry.  It teaches you WHERE you can carry and WHEN you are legally justified in using force including deadly force to defend yourself.  However, the CHL class isn’t long enough to do what it does and also teach you HOW to safely and effectively defend yourself using a firearm.

Shooting is a perishable skill.  It requires regular practice to build and maintain proficiency.   Most trips to a public range involve a stationary target,  a stationary shooter, no holster draw from concealment, no presentation skills, no retention skills, etc.   Most ranges don’t permit these things for obvious safety and liability reasons.   But these things do require practice and repetition to become proficient.   Safe holster draw and presentation, shooting while moving, use of cover and concealment, and reloading skills should be a part of your skill set.

If, like most, you can’t practice these skills at your favorite range, you can practice some of these skills at home with dry fire after you have carefully and repeatedly ensured your gun is unloaded.   You can use dummy rounds to practice loading and magazine swaps.  There are even laser target simulators on the market if you want to shell out some bucks to take your home dry fire practice up a notch.   However, there is really little substitute for taking some training from a qualified instructor that includes live fire training of these skills.

So, I do hope to see all of you in the Texas CHL class.  You will learn a ton of information on Texas laws pertaining to the CHL program and on the laws pertaining to the use of force and deadly force.   But I hope that you consider getting your CHL as the next step rather than the last step in your ongoing training.

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