Confessions of a Newbie

We all started out at about the same place when we started to carry. We didn’t know what we didn’t know.

I’ll admit, when I started working at the USCCA I couldn’t believe I carried with such little knowledge - but I didn’t know what I didn’t know. After classes with Massad Ayoob and Andrew Branca, I knew a lot more and was still horrified that I carried with such little knowledge. Now it’s a passion of mine to help educate and train others so they know more and are better able to defend themselves.

Jason’s in the same boat a lot of us were:

What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started carrying?


I wish I would have known about bulk ammo sites! I would have went with a 9mm a lot sooner.

Honestly, when I decide to do something, I research the heck out of it. When I settled on my first handgun, I already had a holster picked out and I ordered it the same day.

In all seriousness, I wish I had gotten involved with local pro-2A groups sooner. I’ve learned a lot about Michigan law in the last 6 months.


A belt. If I would have known how much of a difference that makes i would’ve saved money on holsters. I kept throwing money at the wrong problem.

Gun belts are pricey but once you use one you’ll never look back.


Excellent thread. In USPSA shooting we have a saying, “You’re not as good as you think you are and You don’t know as much as you think you do.” Meaning, anybody can learn and anybody can get better. Seek out qualified, professional trainers. They will take you to the next level.


Here’s one.

You will end up with a bunch of holsters that didn’t work for you. Knowing this you will start cheap. That’s a bad idea. A good balance between cost/comfort/ quality is Alien Gear. Don’t go shapeshift, get a cloak tuck. It’s a start. Gear won’t be cheap, or if it is it probably won’t be quality.
Belt, Holster, Gun. Don’t go cheap on any of these they are your “core” essentials.


I wish I would have understood more about properly using a tuckable holster, and dressing to conceal you gun. Now, I feel like I could walk out carrying a cannon and nobody give me a 2nd look.


Why its better to carry one in the chamber, and how to not just be safe with that, but feel safe with it.


I’ll admit that I tried to carry $500 gun in a $20 holster, you’re right. That’s not how it works. The gun, holster, belt, wardrobe is all a system. And that system falls into a lifestyle. I have been surprised at some of the things that have changed since carrying. Little things like driving habits. I have nothing against law enforcement I just don’t want to interact with them. Avoiding situations that could turn confrontational, maybe it’s age maybe it’s being armed but not every fight is my fight. In fact most aren’t.


Zee, The reason why it is better to carry one in the chamber is because of
is time. When G-d forbid you need to use your firearm in self defense time is what counts. and if your have to chamber a round it would take a few seconds to load a round in the chamber. Where as if you already have a round in the chamber you can deal with the threat faster. Because you won’t have to rack the slide to load a round. And most of the experts feel that having a round in the chamber is better. And when I carry I always do have a round in the chamber. On my 1911 I carry it LOCKED AND LOADED with the manual safety on. When I carry my Rugar LC9S I also carry it with a round in the chamber but the safety isn’t on. And that because of the safeties that the gun has. But it is up to how you feel about it. And what you feel most comfortable with doing.


Yep @Reloader54 that’s exactly why I do. When I was a newbie I didn’t know that… not in the “you could die because you didn’t” way. It was more fear about “you could have an accidental discharge and hurt someone”. I didn’t feel safe, or confident in that safety.
It would have been good to have someone work through my fears on that with me right at the start.


This doesn’t have to do with handguns, but I did learn the hard way about NOT climbing the stock of a scoped rifle. I only had to do that once haha!


That’s a lesson that tends to stick with ya.


Yeeeaah… got a little scar in my right eyebrow.


In an emergency, you won’t have time to rack the slide. Please invest in some good training! It makes a world of difference! Welcome to the club!


Hi @Michael12, let me put that in context… the thread being “confessions of a newbie”, I think folks like @Dawn and myself are illuminating the things that we didn’t know when we were newbies. And that we really wished someone would have taught us. :slightly_smiling_face:
I’m not a newbie any more… got my first shotgun in 1978, my first handgun a bit over 20 years ago, certified to teach rifle, shotgun, pistol, and as an RSO through the NRA in 2006, and as a USCCA instructor this year. I have a regular coach I train with now too as well as hitting the range twice a week :grin:
I am all over that training thing :grin:
It’s what I teach my students too… practice, get training.
Very glad to have you here singing that same very important song.
Sometimes it’s very useful, especially since I teach a lot of new shooters, to think back to when I was a new shooter, and to hear others’ new shooter experience… it makes me more aware of what I need to teach my newbies.


What do I know now that I didn’t know/ or do when I started carrying… self defense not stuff defense, carry a flashlight, live in a self defense mindset not the mindset of a guy that deployed (for example, don’t clear your house, have a cop do it, that kind of thing), stay open minded to new information, I was also taught recently an effortless way to utilize unsighted fire by some awesome instructors with the USCCA. Sorry for the lengthy ramble. I can’t wait to see how much I will know next year!


I’m much more cognizant today of when and where I can legally carry as well as when I’m legally allowed to use deadly force.

Honestly, much of that is due to changes in our laws clarifying both and liberalizing them quite a bit and a lot of it simply comes from all of the questions I’ve had thrown my way over the years by students requiring me to think endless scenarios through and study both the statutes and case law.

People really need to keep in mind that case law is often quite different than the statutes as written so don’t count on a good understanding of the statutes alone being enough to keep you out of trouble.


I’m just beginning to realize this. I would have gotten one long ago, but they’re so expensive! I think I’m going to pull the trigger (pun intended!) and get one soon. I’m looking at the ones with the steel reinforced core, but any suggestions would be appreciated.

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I carry daily everywhere that I can legally do so. I agree with the statement " Better to have it and not need than to need it and not have it. I even carry at work which is at an elementary school. This is legal here in Utah.
I do not agree not to buy cheap. I own 5 hand guns all of which are budget guns that cost less than $400. Only one of the five do I regret. Now I do use Alien gear holsters on most of my guns. I use the shapeshift on the guns that are available. I wear OWB and I conceal very well and comfort is premium. Now my Taurus Spectrum I had to find a different holster because Alien gear did not have one. I ordered a kydex holster on Amazon from H&R Holsters. Very happy with the holster that cost $25. Lower cost is not always cheaply made. You just need to do research. Sorry for the long post.


My reference to cheapness was more or less to get people to research the gear they choose.

All too often I see a $500-$1000 handgun in an ill fitting $8 Uncle Mikes nylon holster that leaves the trigger exposed. Or just as bad, a Blackhawk Serpa from Walmart.

It’s extremely important that your holster be made SPECIFICALLY for your firearm. Alien Gear is amazing for their price. $35 to $100 for a holster made specifically for your sidearm is a great price point.

I only recommend staying away from the Shapeshift system to start with. The Cloak Tuck holsters are extremely comfortable and that is going to help a newbie carry more frequently.

As far as a belt goes, definitely don’t go cheap there. Quality belts also help with comfort and reduce low back pain caused by the weight of carrying a loaded sidearm. I like my Bigfoot Gun Belts (Alien Gear sister company, FYI).

I’m not going to say your holster should cost as much as your firearm, that’s asinine. It should cost a minimum of $50 (this can be after tax/S&H) and not be a generic fits XYZ models type.

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