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My Carry Class a Women’s Perspective

When my husband (Duncan) first proposed the idea of me taking our states carry class, I was kind of unsure. My husband has a carry permit and has always carried as a law enforcement officer or citizen when we are out, so I felt I had no need for one. I also thought that I did not know enough about guns to pass the class. I did not think I would feel safe without him by my side at the range. But, the truth of the matter is, 95% of the time I’m out with my kids without my husband. I did have every reason to be carrying myself. Who’s going to protect me or my kids? I needed to step up and take on that responsibility.

Glock 19 Gen2
Glock 19 Gen2

Class:

In my state we have a carry permit. The carry permit allows you to either open carry or conceal carry your firearm. Also, by obtaining your carry permit it covers you to transport rifles with ammunition in your vehicle.

I took the class at one of my local gun stores, Blue Line Gun Store. The facility, classroom and range are all very clean and nice. The instructor JJ was a lot of fun. I think he did a great job by making the class material upbeat and making us laugh. I didn’t feel like I was sitting in a class room for hours, even though I was. For me, most of the class information I already knew and a lot of it was just common sense. I have been lucky enough to have a firearms instructor and armorer as a personal trainer for the last 12 years.

We reviewed the parts, features, and actions of different types of handguns as well as how to clean and store firearms. I did tune out a bit during the cleaning portion. I figured, my husband is super anal when it comes to his guns and would be right there the whole time I was cleaning them. Then we went over malfunctions. But, not the specifics of how to clear that malfunction, except keeping the firearm pointed down range, raise your hand and wait for assistance. Next was the proper two handed grip, breathing control, sight alignment, trigger control and follow-through. There was nothing about how to make your firearm ready to shoot. This class is a very basic class that does not teach you how to shoot. You should already know the basics of your firearm’s operation, how to manipulate and shoot your firearm. Finally there was a 20 minute video on the actual laws for carry in my state. At the end of the classroom instruction was the test. 40 questions total, 20 T/F and 20 Multiple choice.

Carry Class
Carry Class

I missed two questions on sight alignment, asked two different ways.

1. When establishing sight alignment, you should focus and concentrate on:
a. the target
b. the rear sight
c. the front sight
d. all of the above

2. When establishing sight alignment, you should focus and concentrate on the front sight.
T or F

I answered D (all of the above) and False. My thinking was yes you look at the front sight but you also need to be looking at your target and the rear sights. Well I missed the focus and concentrate part of the question. The correct answer is that you need to focus and concentrate on the front sight. Well now I know.

For the written test you need 70% to pass. 40 questions at 2.5 points each means you can miss 12 questions out of 40 and still pass. Most of the questions were easy and common sense, (i.e.) should you store your gun in your child’s toy box? Umm NO!

Don’t feel intimidated by the test or material given it was very easy to understand. Again this is a very basic class.

Range Time:

This was the portion I was the most nervous about. I had never been to the range without my husband right next to me, giving me instructions, directions and loading my magazines. He did load 45 rounds in the magazines the night before, so I was feeling a little better about the loading magazine part. Until I got to the range and found out that I would have to down load my magazines to 10 rounds. I had my husband’s Glock 19 (9mm) with four 15 round magazines.

The instructor was very clear with his instructions and what he expected of us on the range. It made things very simple.

A little bit of side information for you. Starting on April 1, 2013 my state changed the shooting requirements to pass the test. The target was changed from a B27 (24″x 45″ 50 yard) to a B29 (11 1/2″x 22″ 50 Feet). The distance was changed from 3, 7, 15 yards to 3, 5, 7 yards and the rounds for qualification were changed from 48 rounds to 50 rounds. For the rounds to count they could not be outside the 7 ring. To pass you need 70%. Each shot is worth 2 points, so you can have 15 rounds outside of the 7 ring.

Glock 19 Carry Class Range
Glock 19 Carry Class Range

All during the classroom portion I was feeling pretty good as I knew all the information. Other students even asked me questions during the breaks. I was thinking, yeah I got this! Now the pressure, if I fail my husband is going to be ticked that I wasted money, time and most importantly, I would not be able to write a successful article about my carry class.

My first 20 rounds were all inside the 8 ring. I was feeling better knowing that I had manipulated, loaded, fired and stayed on target all on my own. I did it with no instructor at my side, no husband telling me what to do, just me using my past training and experience. I passed the shooting portion with only three rounds outside of the 7 ring, a 96% score.

I was disappointed that I didn’t do better. My husband feels that I did outstanding. I would have hit an average sized male with all rounds at all the distances.

Qualification Target
Qualification Target

Surprises:

I was surprised that the class didn’t go over how to properly conceal, carry or store your firearm for easy access and proper use. I was surprised that the actual law portion was only 20 minutes. Four of those minutes they talked about the effects of drugs and alcohol use on your body. The deadly force section left many in the class still needing clarification. If I had had no previous firearms training I would not have been prepared to shoot a 50 round qualification. The first thing the instructor said was “This is a very basic class, it does not teach you how to shoot. You should already know the basics of gun operation and how to shoot.”

Female Presence:

I was happy to see that in my class of 18 there were 8 females taking the class. I asked a couple of them for their reasons for wanting to go through the class. Most wanted it for protection, others had specific reasons for wanting to carry. They lived alone or walked to their car alone at night. One of the older gentlemen in the class said, “I’m surprised there are so many women at this class, I guess it’s the new women’s right stuff”. My favorite response was from a woman who said “because I can!” I loved her answer, shouldn’t all women have that response? It is about our protection or our protecting our children. It’s about our right as a woman to be able to defend ourselves and not rely on a man to be there for us. It’s about confidence and empowerment. It’s about walking to our car alone and not being afraid. It’s about our right as an American to carry a firearm.

If there are any women out there, that are still intimidated by taking the class, please don’t be! I know you can do it and I know that you will feel awesome after it is done. You will have such a sense of accomplishment and feeling of knowing that you can do anything, no matter how intimidating it might be.

Cassie.

Thinking vs. automatic action.

At some point early on in my Marine Corps’ training I was taught to tap the spine of a M16 mag against my helmet to make sure that the rounds were seated towards the back of the mag. So, in my first field op outside of training, I loaded my M16 by taking a magazine out of a mag pouch, hitting it twice against my head, and inserting it into my rifle.

I wasn’t wearing a helmet.

To quote General Mattis, “Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.”

It is clear that many people want to be told a single solution so they can adopt that and not have to think. What gun should I buy? “Glock 19” What do I do in the event of a malfunction? “Tap Rack Bang” etc. Having a pre-prepared response to situation isn’t a bad thing, however fighting and shooting is a thinking exercise. We need to know why we should do something, so that we pick the correct option when situations arise.

The lazy alternative is to rely on one gadget/technique/solution for each issue. Only having a hammer starts to make all problems look like nails.

Another example, often I see people who know the tap-rack-bang way of handling malfunctions. That works great on close action issues in close bolt semi-automatics. Yet I see people try it when they have double feeds (an open action malfunction) and it just ends up creating a triple feed. On the open bolt belt fed M249 and M240 machine guns Marine’s attempting to use tap-rack-bang would end up firing 1 round, before the weapon system jammed again. Instead of identifying and correcting the issue, they fire a single round, have the same malfunction, and repeat tap-rack-bang. This incorrect response turns the that machinegun into a bolt action single shot.

The problem isn’t trained responses it is that we can fall into the bad habit of relying on a trained response instead of using our brain.

A look at the 9mm vs 45 debate. Some common sense

I have been reading a lot online recently with some people arguing over the 9mm vs the 45 ACP.   Now I am not going to say one  is much better then the other but I will point out a few things.  The reason I am talking  about this is not that I want you to buy what I think is the prefect round or to try to change minds, but to show how some of the logic of the arguments do not hold up.   The 9mm is being said  to be the best choice right now by a few for a variety of reasons. None of which I agree with.  I think the 9mm has great value to us.  But it does need to be viewed at with some some sense so we do not lose all perspective.  So, below are  a few things to think about.

One of the things I keep seeing is that the 9mm is better then the 45 ACP now. The proof is that modern tech has been applied to the new line of 9mm bullets. Better design, better metals, better  shape etc. That is a great thing and it does wonders. But, the same improvements have also been applied to the 45 ACP and the 40 S&W.  Companies do not make advancements in bullet technology and not apply it to all calibers, or just do it for the 9mm.

Next is that the 9mm will penetrate deeper and defeat body armor.  Speed is not the main factor in penetration. Bullet shape and the hardness of the bullet matter a lot.  A steel core 40 S&W or 45 AP will defeat armor or penetrate as well as a 9mm. Same with a more pointed bullet shape.  If you run across body armor that will defeat a 45 or 40, round with a steel core, or a pointed design, it is going to stop any other handgun round as well.  If the enemy is hiding behind cover, you are not going to get through it with a handgun no matter what it is.  If they have on effective body armor. You are going to shoot them in the head, crotch, thighs etc.  Its not going to matter what handgun round you use if what you need is a rifle.

The talk of the 45 being to much recoil to shoot well is a training issue. Pure and simple. Taking some one who can not handle the recoil of a 45 after being trained, is not trained well enough to be using a 9mm, or a 380 or a 32 auto or a 22LR.   Women shooters in IPSC shoot major power factors with the 45 ACP.  This is full power ammo. So you are going to tell me, that a 5 foot 3 asian woman can handle the 45 ACP round well enough to win a national championship, but a 6 foot tall Marine can not because its too much recoil? Ok..

Another complaint is weight.  OK, lets take a  look at that. 22 rounds of 45 ACP compared to 22 rounds of 9mm ammo is a difference of 6 ounces.  If you can not handle an extra 6 ounces, then you maybe should rethink carrying a gun.

Some other complaints about the 45 or bigger calibers are really a hidden slight at the 1911 in most cases. Even though the 1911 is said to need more training, the 1911 does not have  a double action trigger that is further away from the grip like most DA guns like the M9 or the P220.  It has less levers. it has no decocker that allows the hammer to fall on a loaded chamber. I always thought this odd that a culture so keen on safety, is fine with  man made mechanical device falling on a live round.

My favorite reason is that 9mm guns are easier to use for smaller hands and much easier to use.  this strikes me odd. Most 9mms are double action, This puts the trigger further forward and harder for small hands to get to.  The capacity of the magazine also makes it much wider..  The larger the magazine and the more it holds, the bigger the grip frame has to be to allow it.  Some  Double action pistols in the common 9mm also have a higher bore. The XD is a good example.  When fired, the recoil of the 9mm works on a longer lever making it snap more and recoil feel snappier.  A lot of people find 9mms in this type of handgun more unpleasant.

The magazine capacity is the shinning example of why the use of the 9mm is not to be contested. Everyone loves more ammo right?  The FN  45  will hold 15 rounds.  That is the most common amount for the 9mm. Once again, this is aimed more at trying to tear down the 1911.  9-10 round mags for the 1911 are common and easy to get. With a wilson combat 10 round mag plus one in the chamber that is 11 rounds. You can add two more spare reloads, which is standard for most, and that is 31 rounds or two 8 round mags instead. That is not counting the fact that frames are made for the 1911 that will hold 15 plus rounds.

If you need more rounds then 9-10 then you need a rifle.  Laying down suppressive fire with a handgun inside the USA as a CCW civilian or LEO  would be so rare, it may not even be worth talking about.  If you need to use your side arm for this work, you are not going to have enough ammo. It is not going to work out.

As  the majority of people seem to need to be told over and over, hits are what counts.  The vast majority of encounters happen so fast and so close that  having to reload or even using up most of the mag, are tiny.  Hits are what matter.   the idea of more ammo puts the idea in a lot of peoples heads that they can slack off on their standard of training.  “I can shoot more if I need it” they say. Often they use this as an excuse to let themselves miss more.  I am not saying you need the accuracy of a bullseye match, but you do have to hit. If you have missed 12 times or made 12 marginal hits, 3 more may not be much good to you. Or you are in serious trouble already. Few people trying to kill you,, will not stand by as you fire 11 or more ineffective rounds at them.  Even in war, if you have gotten to the point its just you and your side arm and needed more then 10 rounds, there may not be much hope for you depending on whats going on.

I agree the idea of “knockdown power” is absurd. Nothing you can hold in your hands , will stop a threat with one shot every time. And even some things crew served will from time to time take more shots to kill some one then seems possible.  No handgun is going to take a man off his feet or blow off arms.  The idea is idiotic.    Neither will a handgun round be small and fast enough to act as a rifle round.  Hollowpoints often fail from handguns for a laundry list of reasons I am not going into right now.  But I would rather have a failed HP round that is 45 and stays 45, then a failed HP round that is 32 or 25 or 9mm that stayed a 9mm, 32, 25 etc and had only its size making a hole to bleed out through, to stop a fight.   If this still has trouble sinking in, let some one throw a wiffle ball at you and hit you in the chest. Let them throw it hard.  Yes it will hurt.   Then let them do the same with a softball.  The Softball is bigger, and heavier.  I do not think it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to understand this unless you are working hard to convince yourself or others that a smaller lighter bullet will work better then a larger heaver one when we are talking about handguns.

This is not even counting how things perform when the projectile works as it is designed to do and everything goes right. Even though, often the bullets do not work as advertised.

As I said, I think the 9mm is just fine and has a much valued place.  I do not want anyone to think i am trying to talk them out of using it. What I am trying to do, is to get people to think about it.  If something out performs something else, that is great. But we need to look at this in a way that is honest. Not just using personal preference as an excuse to declare something so much better that the people who use something else is outdated or dinosaurs or wimps for using something so small.  I picked on the 9mm heavily in this case not because I dislike it, but because some people have went above and beyond logic in some cases, to try to make other agree with them. And sadly, their status has gave weight to their statements when they are not exactly experts on terminal performance. Being a great shot, or a champion, or karate master does not mean their personal views over take facts or common sense.

To me, listen to the guys telling you to train, find a gun that fits your hand and you can shoot well. They know hits are what counts, and your mindset and willingness to fight to live.  Sure they have their own favorite, but you will not see them harp on it over and over.  Training is what counts.  Do not get fixated on equipment or what some one tells you is the best caliber.  Use the most effective caliber you can handle. Do not assume something is hard to use just because some one slightly famous tells you it is.  use some sense, and look at facts. And, if you still want to use what you want, then by all means do so, just train with it to make the hits that count.

My thoughts on it is to use the biggest round you can effectively handle and staying away from double action and DAO autos. I do not mean trying it out to see if you can hit a pop can either. I mean train with it. Practice and learn it. Work with it. If you can not become proficient with it because the recoil is just too much, then by all means, take a step down.  I will say this, there are too many tiny women winning national matches with full power ammo in the 45 to dismiss it as hard to shoot or make follow up shots with.   Thee is a video on youtube of a 6 year old boy shooting a full size 45 ACP in a IPA match.   Training,  that is really all that needs said.