1. Completing Just the Minimum Training
In many states, a Basic Home Firearm safety course is enough to qualify you for a concealed weapons license. (This includes Massachusetts) However, these courses often focus solely on being safe with a the various types of firearms, but not how to shoot or when to shoot or the responsibilities that go along with carrying.
Even some classes that are specifically designed around qualifying you for a concealed weapons permit don’t do much in the way of preparing you. Do your research before choosing a class and find a reputable one that is more concerned with proper training rather than getting you out of the course as quickly as possible. The course concerned most about money will often go through some of the basics, have you shoot a few rounds, and send you on your way. You want a course that has instructors who are going to help you in every way possible to make sure you leave their class prepared.
Finally, don’t think that just because you met the minimum requirements for a license you’re now ready to handle every situation you might find yourself in. A responsible person who carries concealed is constantly learning, practicing and training.
Printing, where the outline of your gun appears from pushing against your clothing and exposing a part of the gun are mistakes that often arise from complacency. When you first start carrying, often you’re so concerned about your gun showing in public you’ll do anything and everything to make sure it never happens. After carrying every day for years, it’s still a thought but you’re nowhere near as scared of it happening. Just take that extra second to make sure you’re not printing or going to expose your gun at some point.
Honestly, most people are pretty ignorant to their surroundings anyways, but it certainly isn’t worth the trouble of someone freaking out if they do notice because you didn’t want to bother changing your 2 sizes too small shirt. Although some people are extremely concerned about printing, it’s not the end of the world if it happens at some point (although it may be illegal in some localities). It’s certainly not something to get into the habit of doing, but compared to exposing your gun, printing is nowhere near as big a concern. If your gun is exposed, you could find yourself in some serious hot water. The last thing you want to deal with is half the police station closing in on you with guns drawn because you bent over to pick something up and the lady behind you happened to notice your gun.
Trust me, if someone sees your gun and they’re scared, the 911 call won’t be a rational explanation of what happened. Take your time to make sure you’re not printing or in danger of exposing your gun before you leave the house.
3. Using the Wrong Holster for you
This mistake is made not from purchasing an inexpensive holster, but a poorly made one. That nylon holster you got on special for $2.99 probably isn’t going to become your go to holster. There are some great holsters that aren’t overly expensive and some pretty awful holsters that are way too expensive. Whatever material you prefer for your holster, it needs to be able to retain your gun properly and be comfortable enough to wear day in and day out.
There’s a reason those who have been carrying for years have a drawer full of holsters in their house, the holsters didn’t perform the way they needed to. Don’t be afraid to experiment with several different holsters to find the one fits your lifestyle and your body properly. The benefits of a quality holster far outweigh the true cost of buying a holster solely based on price.
I personally find that I like different holster depending on what I am wearing. I will wear one holster with my daily work close and a different holster one the weekends when I am in jeans and a t-shirt. Finding the right holster can take time!
4. Wearing improper clothing
There are two different aspects to this mistake. The first goes back to the mistake of allowing your gun to print or become exposed. Just because you carry a gun doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of Hawaiian shirts and baggy pants. You can still have a sense of personal style while carrying, you just need to be sure that the clothes you’re wearing accommodate the gun you carry. With a little bit of experimentation you should be able to find the best way to do this that fits your own personal style.
The second aspect of this mistake comes with wearing "tacti-cool" clothing. Walking around in head to toe BLACKHAWK and 5.11 Tactical clothing just screams gun. The idea is to conceal the fact you have a gun on you, not announce it to the world.
Fun little fact: dark-colored shirts will conceal your firearm better than light-colored shirts.
5. Fingering/Checking the gun
This is a bad habit often seen by those just starting to carry concealed. As they go about their routine, they’ll casually reach back and touch the gun with their fingers or sometimes blatantly just check to see if it’s still there. Don’t worry, if you’ve gotten a proper holster it’s still there. If you catch yourself doing this when you carry, suppress the urges and leave it alone! All you’re doing is giving people another chance to see that you have a gun on you. With a bit of experience and self control this urge will go away.