Just Started Carrying

I just started carrying my pistol this past weekend. It is just a little different from what I had envisioned. I got the Texas CHL card in the mail on Thursday and was packing by Friday morning. Dad and I went down to Venice, La. for our bi-annual fishing trip with several other friends. I was real worried that pops would see the print through my shirt and give me hell. Turns out that he never noticed. I don't even know if he really would have cared.

My first true test came when we rolled into Lafayette for lunch. We found a nice restuarant just off the interstate and waited for the rest of the group to arrive. Not only did the staff not notice, my friends didn't either. Self-conscious or not, I felt like my fly was open the whole time. It took a great deal of self control not to knowingly grab or check the gun. The gun was pretty comfortable in its IWB holster and I rarely felt discomfort during the eight hour road trip.

Of course, stupid is as stupid does. I did make the mistake of not bringing my pistol with me during our dinner outing Saturday night. Each time we have gone to dinner over the years there has always been cause for concern when someone in the group has a gun. Bad things start to happen only when someone forgets to carry. Dad and I pulled into the local eatery and were waiting on the rest of the guys to make it in from the marina when I noticed some thugalicious punk in a wife beater and droopy drawers shouting and throwing pebbles at cars from across the street. What caught my attention was the fact that a small caliber handgun was printing through the beater shirt and the muzzle was pointing at his "family legacy." The first thought out of my mind was, "Oh, shit! I forgot my gun!" I left it locked in the hotel room like a dumbass. Luckily, he was no threat to us and went on his merry way back to the trailer park.

The last time that happened was over four years ago. We were all convoying to this same restuarant and pulled over at a 'stop-n-rob' to ask for directions. There were a bunch of locals loitering and drinking beer in the parking lot. Two of these 'dudes' get into a shouting match and the one dressed in leather vest/no shirt and black denim whips out this humongus Crocodile Dundee Bowie knife and waves it around. Our jaws dropped and one of the guys in our group asked if any of us had protection. We all looked around dumbfounded that no one brought a gun with them. Thankfully, the Cajun Crocodile Dundee was too drunk and stupid to notice ten white guys sans guns in the cars parked in front of him.

Lessons were learned last Saturday that reinforce the need for personal protection. I know I obviously didn't need to carry on the boat in the middle of the Mississippi River, but having it ready in my waistband going to dinner is a definite must. There will be plenty of opportunities for me to carry over the course of my daily life. I just have to remain vigilant about carrying and as Instructor Greg says, "Train as I fight!" so that I may not be caught in this situation again.

Unfortunately, I cannot carry at work. I am barred by company policy from carrying a weapon on company premises. That may cause some problems as I work at different offices around town from time to time. Right now, I just keep the Kimber Pro Carry II in a valaise in my truck. It is locked up tight and in a very secure spot. I don't worry about the truck being broken into, but I hope there is enough junk in there to keep prying hands away from that gun.

As I grow into this new role as a CHL licensee, I am constantly aware and ever vigilant. I DO NOT look forward to the day when I may have to employ deadly force. I do, however, hope to learn and be more comfortable in my new role. I don't know what to expect from those that know me and are close to me. I also pray that they understand my need to carry. Having said that, I am off to the range for another night of Tac Tuesday. That report will be forthcoming.


AlanDP said...

I felt the same way when I first carried. I was sure everyone could see through my shirt. Never happened, though. Eventually I became less paranoid, but I'm still very careful. I usually even look in the mirror once just to check my "print."

Cowboy Blob said...

Welcome to the Club! I guy I used to work with went with some friends and me to his first Arizona gun show. He knew Jon and I carried and wasn't surprised when we had our guns checked at the front door. Then, Jon's wife and her girlfriend pulled out their automatics and he was flabbergasted. He never caught the CCW bug, but we did teach the California boy a few things about firearms.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the ranks of the fierce and unyielding. I can't think of someone I'd rather have at my back if the unthinkable happens.

James R. Rummel

Peter said...

Actually you very well might need that shootin' iron out in the middle of the river. There have been more than a few robberies of prosperous-looking boaters and fishermen lately. Not to mention the odd ill-tempered water mocasin we can encounter in southern lakes and rivers. I don't go on or near the water without a Speer Shotcap load in the first chamber under the hammer. I learned that when a cottonmouth decided he wanted to share the boat and we spent the rest of the day bailing the water out from the bulletholes.
Anyhow, welcome to the ranks.

Anonymous said...

Some pointers:

1) It is very important that your attitude does not change while carrying.

2) Don't fiddle with your shirt. Avoid "checking yourself" while walking. Just act normal and the "wolf" will never be noticed by the "sheep" -- even if you're carrying badly.

3) Build up your back muscles over time. Start with 2 or 3 hour blocks and rest if needed. If your back starts to get sore, change your carry method to off body.

4) Get an excellent belt (actually, several in different colors). Try to acquire one that is made of two pieces whose grain are sewn crosswise. The belt is an excellent defense against a spasming back (see #3).

5) Take a handgun self defense class once every two years. Check out www.f-r-i.com or your local range. Look for a minimum of 600 rounds in a two or three day course.

6) Practice your draw with a blue gun for 15 minutes daily. Warm up with unconcealed draws and spend most of the time drawing from concealment. Include lateral movement to your target.

7) Creaky leather will give you away and it's really annoying.

8) Learn how to sit and get up without printing.

9) Avoid leaning over forward and don't reach up high on your gun side.

10) Forward cant in your holster is your friend.

11) Don't be afraid to spend $300 in carry gear for a new gun. Your back will thank you for it! Items to look at include: IWB holster, paddle holster, single magazine carrier, dual magazine carrier, some off body holster such as a fanny pack, Dillon Carry Tote, or "calendar" holder thingie). This is one reason why Glocks and 1911's are great: gear for larger sized guns works for all the smaller ones!

12) Keep a flashlight on you at all times. You never know if you'll need to ID a target in a dim basement or room.

Anonymous said...

I have one simple rule for carrying: "If it's legal to carry in X location then I have my gun." I avoid places where I can't carry, except for my work location.

Here in Florida the statutes preclude carrying in a bar or portion of a restaurant dedicated to serving alcohol, but not in the restaurant itself. My friends understand why I won't go into a bar with them but will go into a restaurant that serves. They also understand why I'm the one drinking iced tea.

Casual acquaintances don't, however, and I'm not going to tell them that I'm statutorily prohibited from entering a bar. My line is "the chairs in the restaurant are more comfortable, and we might want to order something to eat." Usually works. I avoid the alcohol by claiming I'm on antibiotics (I don't drink while carrying, and have established that behavior over the years (so it can be testified to in court by friends) because of the civil liability it can bring).

My usual rig is an H&K USP in a shoulder rig (Galco SSII) and a PPK in 380 in the small of the back (Bianchi #3 ISW) because I wore a jacket on duty , a banana republic style vest off duty (I'm ex-law enforcement, now just "Joe Citizen with a CWP"). I've carried this combination for so many years it feels strange when I don't. Before the H&K it was a Sig 220.

Super-casual mode is a Bianchi fanny pack with an S&W 340PD (which also fits into a slacks pocket with an Uncle Mike's pocket holster to break up the outline). FYI, avoid black fanny packs, get something in colors. Black says "gun," blue and yellow or red/white, etc., says "tourist." Sports team logos are a plus. Every cop who sees you, though, will think "carrying" no matter what the color. Almost no one else will.

It took me a while to start worrying about print-through, since for years if anyone noticed - which occurred very, very rarely - I just flashed my ID. And, the person who noticed was almost always law enforcement, who look for that (I always do, and I suggest you do, too. It pays to know who you might have to deal with - or, preferably, avoid - if something goes down, and seeing several people who are probably carrying and sloppy about it means you're either in a restaurant where a lot of cops eat or someplace you don't want to be). Non-sworn don't think about it. I recently attended a well-attended public event wearing the vest, and the only questions I got were "going fishing after this?" If I see someone in a vest I assume they're packing, and it's probably serious iron; pocket .32s don't require a vest to cover them.

You'll also learn to not sit with your back to the door; I try for a table near an exit where I can see the entry and as much of the eatery as possible. Plan your positions and your exit strategy.

I'm an NRA-Certified instructor, and I tell my CWP students they're carrying only to have a last resort option if all their trouble-avoidance efforts fail. I've walked out of places I didn't feel comfortable in.

And, Anonymous's tip to carry a tube of dark repellant (flashlight) is a very good one, the brighter the better. Even a AA Maglite is a plus. Also makes a handy less-than-lethal impact weapon.

For someone with a new CWP I'd suggest wearing your rig around the house as much as you can to get used to it before you go in public. Have your spouse or a friend tell you every time they catch a glimpse of the gun, holster or print-through. I don't like hip holsters because: 1) it means a smaller gun, and I like full-sized pieces, and; 2) as Anonymous said, you have to relearn some behaviors so you don't bend over or reach for something and expose the gun or holster, which is harder than you think. You've been reaching for the top shelf right-handed all your life, or bending ove to pick up a child or pet, now you have to learn left-handed reaching and to squat down rather than bend. Your behavior will be unnatural while you're learning.

Anonymous said...

You'll be most comfortable carrying if you do it everywhere you can. If I'm fully clothed, I'm armed. I don't even notice that I'm carrying anymore... but I know it's there if I need it.

As for company policy... if they don't respect your right to life, why should you respect their rules? Which is worse, getting found out and fired, or obeying and not having your gun when you need it?