Saturday, April 11, 2009

Michigan Concealed Pistol License Class: Realistic Expectations

I had recently conducted a Michigan Basic Pistol Safety Training Class and was in the process of debriefing my students to get a feel for what they thought about the experience. Usually, without fail, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive with a few 'nits' about some minor things that I could also do: provide folders for the hand-outs we distribute, offer bottled water as a refreshment option, or take more breaks throughout the day.

On this one particular day of class, a student shared feedback with me that I typically only receive when talking to law enforcement officers. Overall, the student gave me and the other firearms trainers, who were present, high marks for our knowledge and delivery of the constituent material. His disappointment was focused on the body of knowledge, or lack of, of firearms handling and operation possessed by other students in the class. He based his assessment of his classmates by the questions that the other students asked during the training session. In this student's opinion, his fellow classmates were not going to be tactical ninjas when they received their CPLs in the mail.

It would not be fair if I didn't share some info about this student with the apparent ego problem. By his own account, he had spent some time overseas working on a security detail for the Blackwater organization in Iraq. Thus, he has had significant exposure to a variety of firearms and their practical usage under stressful conditions. I can't vouch for his claims but I will attest that he is very accurate with a 9mm Glock handgun.

What You Will Not Learn In A Michigan CCW/CPL Class

There is an apparent misconception about what a person can do after taking a Michigan Basic Pistol Safety Training Class. Let me be crystal clear on this one important point: After taking this class you will not be a tactically trained ninja, you will not be James Bond, and you will most assuredly not be a gunfighter. Instead, you will have merely satisfied the state of Michigan's minimum educational and shooting requirements for a CPL - nothing more.

Taking this class, a basic firearms safety training class, is just the first step in the process of becoming a proficient and safe operator of a defensive firearm. Your continued development will be dependent more on what you do after the class than what you did during it. You will need to become intimate with your handgun of choice, you will need to practice monthly at the range to better hone your shooting ability, you will need to conduct dry-fire drills to perfect your trigger pull, you will need additional training classes, and you will need to learn more about personal protection.

After taking this class, if you had a good trainer, you will now know some of the things that you still need to learn to become more proficient in the use of a defensive firearm. Your favorite firearms instructor may offer additional training offerings and individual coaching or should be able to refer you to other organizations that do.

For example, a newly minted CPL licensee may want to gain training on skills typically not covered in a basic gun safety class: drawing your handgun from concealment, shooting while 'getting off the X,' shooting one-handed, practicing gun clearing drills, practicing holster retention drills, and a myriad of other things you may want to know to enhance your ability to defend yourself against violent predators.

What You Will Gain From Taking A CCW/CPL Class

For many students, the biggest gain they receive as a consequence of taking the CPL Class is not even on the official course agenda. In a word, they are liberated from their irrational fear of firearms and gain confidence as a direct result of the burden that was lifted. For many people, who have been brainwashed by the media, the mere sight of a handgun causes them a great deal of angst and discomfort.

Knowledge of firearms and self-defense law is the most important module in the class. It is this section of the course when a student learns when lethal force is authorized. This comprehensive info will prevent a law-abiding gun carrier from being criminally charged and from being sued in a civil court case. People, who got their training certificates via 'the hookup,' are at a significant disadvantage because they don't know what they can and can't do with a firearm - a bad situation to be in when being faced with the threat of unprovoked violence.

Fireams safety knowledge will also be taught to students in a CCW/CPL Class. For many students, this section of the course is the most informative, as many have never neither seen a handgun up close nor fired one. They will know the NRA Firearms Safety Rules by the number and also learn the Rules For Using And Storing A Gun.

The Bottom Line

Enrolling into and completing a CCW/CPL will not in of itself make a person into an impervious gunfighter. However, it will enable law-abiding citizens to qualify for a CPL, which I know from personal experience and from the experiences of my students, provides another option for self protection during the increasingly troubling times we are now experiencing today.

To get the best benefit, the absolutely worse thing that you can do after taking a CCW/CPL Class is to not further your training. If in the event you ever need to use a handgun to defend yourself and you are not comfortable with its operation, you may be not able to mount an effective defense. You don't want the next time that you use or handle your gun to be the first time you handled it. Your handgun should be a mere extension of your hand.

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