Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: How Proficient Does A Concealed Carrier Really Have To Be?

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By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

There’s a certain amount of debate over whether training should be required at all for a person to be able to legally carry a concealed pistol. A related topic that some people debate is just how proficient a person has to be.

After all, a person should know how to use the gun in their concealed carry holster. If they have to use it, they should be able to put rounds on target as well. Not only does that stop a bad guy but it also keeps bystanders safe. In fact, some states even require qualification shoots in order to get the license.

Professionals, such as state and local police and federal law enforcement, have to qualify every few months with their weapons in order to do their jobs.

Talk to some CCW instructors, and they’ll tell you a person needs to be at the instructor’s range every weekend, taking classes from them. Every possible hour needs to be devoted to training, and every dollar needs to be committed to the instructor’s pocket. Otherwise, a person is just being irresponsible!

But how proficient does a person really need to be?

You might get the idea from some people that unless a person is basically Annie Oakley, they’re a danger to themselves and others; they have no business even target shooting let alone carrying for self-defense.

Then again, it’s also been said that if a person can screw in a lightbulb, they have the requisite skill to be able to carry. How hard is it to point a gun at someone that’s right in front of you and pull a trigger?

Plenty of people who aren’t shooting instructors, who aren’t off-duty police and who have never served in an infantry unit have successfully defended themselves with a firearm despite minimal training and not having to have gone through a qualification shoot.

What do we know about most defensive shootings?

First we know that most studies into the matter indicate the typical defensive shooting will be at close range. It will be over quickly and will conclude with only a few shots fired, though a long-range shot may be required.

We know that while hitting “center mass” (meaning the chest cavity) doesn’t guarantee a stop and that accuracy under stress declines greatly. Since the chest cavity contains the cardiovascular system and is easier to hit than the brain stem that makes it a “surer” hit than a head shot.

While the heart is about the size of an apple and the lungs are about the size of two butternut squash when fully inflated, the chest cavity where they reside is roughly the size of a watermelon. The brainstem, pretty much the “off switch” of most things that live on this planet, is about the size of an avocado in us humans.

So, you need to be able to hit an area roughly the size of a watermelon at close range. Just how good of a shooter do you have to be to do that?

Not that a person shouldn’t devote time to training; of course they should. A person should definitely be able to put their rounds in target if they have to; of course they should as well. But let’s not pretend that one has to be able to shoot a cloverleaf at 100 yards with a derringer to be able to defend themselves.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit