You have made the decision that you want to become a concealed carry license holder in your state. Congratulations! It is a great decision but now you need to do a bit of research and work before you begin. The very first thing that you will need to do is select a concealed carry course where you will do your training. There are many options for concealed carry classes nowadays, so the first thing you’re probably asking is what should you look for in a concealed carry class?
When choosing a concealed carry class, you should ask several questions.
- What certifications and licenses do the instructors hold?
- Is the class in-person, or online and remote friendly?
- What does the price include?
- How large is the class?
- Do you need to qualify? If so, where?
Getting that concealed carry license is a serious step and you want the best instruction and training you can receive to get you started in the right direction. The quality of the course and the ability of the instructors can set the tone for your entire concealed carry experience. So, before you get your concealed carry license education, you need to do a little education for yourself to find the best concealed carry class.
1. Know Your Legal Environment
Before you sign up for a concealed carry class, there are some things you need to know about concealed carry licensing laws and requirements in the state where you live. For detailed, state-by-state rules and regulations, we recommend the USCCA’s state reciprocity map. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the following information:
- The overall requirements for licensing of concealed carry instructors.
- How much training and continued training is necessary for a concealed carry instructor to remain licensed or certified
- Is there a list of licensed concealed carry instructors in your area?
Most of this information is typically easy to find on the website for the agency in your state that is responsible for training and licensing concealed carry instructors. A quick visit to the website may get you all the information you need.
2. Select Your Training
More than likely, after your visit to the state agency website, you have a list of the certified or licensed instructions in your area. You probably also have some suggestions from your friends who are already licensed about good instructors that they used to get their license. Gun ranges and sporting goods stores are places to check for local classes, as well. Just take the time to check them all out carefully to make sure they meet basic safety criteria.
Additionally, more and more online and virtual options are available for citizens to get their handgun certification. You’ll need to be careful when choosing this option, as some websites that offer this training are scams. At Online CHP, we take pride in providing quality education and top-notch customer service.
3. Get to Know the Instructors
The instructor is the key to any class and the quality of the education and training you will receive. You should, of course, check out any references they will provide. Talk to people who have attended the instructor’s class. If you get positive feedback from your early investigation, then check out a few more things about the instructor, such as:
- Certifications and licenses – Make sure that the instructor’s certifications and licenses are current. You can usually find this information on the state agency website where you did your initial investigations. Ask about other certifications that the instructor may hold. This can tell you a lot about how passionate the instructor is about learning and about teaching. At Online CHP, all of our instructors are certified with the National Rifle Association (NRA), and have extensive firearm training.
- How often do the instructors shoot – At a minimum, I would like to know that the person who is training me to get a concealed carry license and how to properly shoot a firearm, practices at least once a month themselves. Shooting is a skill like any other and only solid practice can keep that skill sharp and effective. Our concealed handgun instructors shoot 3-5 times per month and have a variety of firearms they practice with.
- How often do the instructors teach classes – A busy schedule is a good indication that the instructor is popular and attracts plenty of students. Teaching is also a skill and the more the instructor is in front of a class, the better they become as educators.
- What is the instructor’s background – Is the instructor active or retired law enforcement? Do they have military training? These are not necessarily indicators of a good instructor. However, law enforcement or military training is an indication that the instructor has practical training and can bring some skill sets to the classroom that most civilian instructors don’t have.
4. Check Out the Concealed Carry Class
Once you are satisfied with the instructor, it’s time to find out what is included in the price of the class. There is a laundry list of things that any concealed carry class should include in the basic price and quite a few more that may be included or can be had for an additional charge. Before you sign up, make sure you know what the cost will be and what is included.
- Classroom instruction – The classroom portion of the training should be included in the base price. Other questions that you might ask about the classroom instruction include where the class is held, when it is held, and how many people the class usually has.
- Range time – Ask whether range time is included in the class fee or if you must pay for range time separately. This is an optional addition in a lot of states, but well worth your time if you can spare it. Practice makes perfect.
- Gun rental – You may not yet have purchased your concealed carry gun. That is perfectly normal. Many people who get their concealed carry license wait until they have the class experience before deciding on what gun to carry. Ask the instructor if rental or loaner guns are available to do the qualification shooting so that you can get a good feel for the weapon you want to use.
- Ammunition – The same situation holds true for ammunition. Check to see if you can get a package price that includes the rental on the gun and the required amount of ammunition to complete the range qualification.
- Safety Equipment – Any trip to the range requires the appropriate safety equipment. Ear and eye protection is absolutely essential when practicing shooting and are required on any official range. If you are planning on getting a concealed carry license, you should be planning on practicing at a range regularly to stay in tip-top shape. Investing in your eye and ear protection now is a wise move. Some instructors do keep loaner equipment. You can ask about the availability of hearing and eye protection.
- Fingerprinting – Most states require that you submit fingerprints with your concealed carry license application. Fingerprinting for this sort of application is now routinely done electronically. In most instances, this is done at a location certified by the state and requires a separate fee. Some instructors have taken the initiative to acquire the equipment and the certifications to do this themselves. At Online CHP, if you select a mailed application, we’ll throw in fingerprinting cards for you, free of charge.
- Photos – Almost all applications for concealed carry licenses require you to submit photos in a certain format. Often this is the same format used for passport photos. Check with the instructor to see if part of the class fee includes the production of the photos required with the application.
- Application Fees – Application fees vary from state to state. Your instructor will have the most up to date information about the current fees that must accompany your application. Don’t expect the application fee to be included in your course fee. More than likely, you will be required to attach a check or some other form of accepted payment with the application fee when it is submitted. More important than the actual fee is the completion of the application itself. Some states are very particular about the application, and the least error or deviation can cause your application to be rejected. Definitely search for the rules and regulations here to be sure (again, we recommend USCCA’s state reciprocity map to get started).
How large are the Classes?
I mentioned the class size earlier. There is a balancing act that is always a conundrum for instructors and students. Instructors putting on concealed carry classes are faced with several problems.
- Making classes large enough that the instructor can make money
- Keeping class sizes small enough that the instructor can give the best possible attention to each student
The ideal situation in any kind of skills training is a ratio of one instructor to one student. Financial and logistically, this is almost impossible to achieve unless you, as a student, are willing to pay the price for a private one on one concealed carry class.
I would not recommend a course where the ratio of students to instructors is less than three to one. This keeps the span of control reasonable and allows at least a minimum of one to one time for each student. Low student to instructor ratios is also safer on the range.
One benefit to online and remote instruction is that the instructor takes the time to lay out the training video in a logical progression and an easy to understand way. Everyone gets the benefit of being in a quiet environment to really digest the information, and can replay it as much as they would like.
Where is the Qualification Shooting Held?
If you are doing an in-person training that includes qualification shooting, it typically takes place at an established public shooting range. There are several reasons for this:
- Safety – Public ranges are designed for a safe shooting environment. They are typically equipped with baffles, barriers, and backstops that prevent errant ricochets. Public ranges have identified shooting lanes and benches or trays where firearms and ammunition can be safely placed when the range is cold.
- Convenience – It is much more convenient and comfortable to shoot in an environment where all the amenities are at hand. Restrooms and shade can make an afternoon on a hot summer day at the range a lot more enjoyable. Most public ranges also have supplies available and many will rent a firearm at a very reasonable price with which you can complete the qualification.
- The experience – Part of having a concealed carry license is an expectation that you will continue to train and practice to improve your skills. Your visit to the range for your qualification shooting may be your first experience at a public shooting range. Ask questions, introduce yourself. You are making new friends at a place you may be spending time on a regular basis.
I would avoid anyone class where the instructor tells you that he does his qualification shooting at the local quarry or some other place. It has been my experience that this usually involves a plastic folding table, a makeshift target stand, and all sorts of inconveniences.
Online Concealed Carry Classes
In today’s modern age, there are a variety of online certification programs available to you. Online CHP is one of these programs. Before signing up, please understand a few things:
It’s a Certificate, Not a Concealed Carry License
No state in the US allows downloadable concealed carry licenses. What online classes offer is virtual training, a test to see if you retain the information, and a downloadable certification of completion of handgun safety. You then submit that certificate as your training along with your state’s paperwork for a concealed carry license. Doing both steps is the only way to get certified in the United States.
Every state has different rules and regulations for what concealed carry permits are accepted in that state. Be sure to check what the rules are for your state, as well as any states you plan to visit, so that you don’t end up in a situation where you are carrying in a state that does not allow it.
As stated above, check the course provider’s background and reputation. At Online CHP, we take great care to only provide high-quality instruction. All instructors are NRA certified and spent many hours each month at the range.
Starting Your Journey
Once you find the class and the instructor with which you are comfortable, it is time to become the student. It is a great experience and one that will start you on your way to becoming a concealed carry license holder. You may also make new friends with whom you share interests that can carry on for years. Participate, ask questions, learn, and most importantly – have fun!To get your online concealed handgun permit in less than 30 minutes with Online CHP, get started with our digital course and free test.