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Once, a long time ago, I sat in the pilot’s seat on a commercial airliner. Despite the fact that I was in the hot seat and had all the equipment right there at my fingertips, I was far from a pilot. I was missing major pieces to the puzzle for flying a jet. After a brief moment I headed back to coach, the pilot took his seat in the cockpit and we were safely underway.

The realities of concealed carry are not far from my experience on the tarmac. Just because you have a gun and a permit does not mean you are ready for the demands of concealed carry. Whether you are brand new to carrying a defensive handgun for protection or you are an old hand at carrying concealed, up your game and take a few minutes to read these five tips to make sure you are ready for everyday carry.

Handle With Care

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Gun safety rules always need to be a top priority for everyone who carries a gun.

If you carry or plan on carrying concealed, you will be handling your gun a lot. You will need to load and unload your handgun, holster and unholster it, clean and repair it as well as store it appropriately. Everyone that carries concealed needs to perform these essential but rudimentary tasks on a regular basis.

RELATED STORY: 10 Cases Where A Concealed Carry Handgun Saved The Day

In order to keep yourself and those around you safe while you are routinely handling your handgun, you need to make sure you are paying attention to safe gun handling. Safe gun handling requires that you know and follow basic gun safety rules, and it requires that you store your guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized users at any time.

Remember, you made the choice to have defensive firearms as part of your life, to increase your safety and the safety of those that you love. Making gun safety a top priority ensures that your defensive handgun does not become an additional risk to you or your family.

Get Compatible Gear

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All of your hardware must work together when the cards are stacked against you.

Today it’s not terribly difficult to find a reliable defensive handgun for concealed carry. Quality manufacturers and quality information make choices easier and easier. What can be difficult, however, is making sure that all of the pieces of your concealed-carry system work together.

RELATED STORY: 13 Practical Everyday Carry Items

Remember, it isn’t just about the gun. Your defensive handgun needs to function reliably with your ammunition. It also needs to be carried in a holster/belt combination that is comfortable, concealable, safe and secure while allowing quick access for a draw when needed. Finally, it all needs to function with your lifestyle, wardrobe and body type.

These variables make the reliability of your gear as an entire system an unknown that needs to be quantified. The best way to accomplish this is to assemble your gear and enroll in a quality defensive training course and put yourself and your gear through a few days of intensive use on the range.

Learn From The Masters

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Take quality training courses before you need to defend yourself.

Making sure that you have quality defensive handgun training should be a given when it comes to preparing for concealed carry. Many people fail to realize that defensive handgun training is only the beginning of the training you need to truly be prepared.

Imagine you are attacked at contact distance. Do you have the physical skills you need to block the attack, gain control or strike so that drawing your gun doesn’t result in a struggle for your handgun? Having practical unarmed skills might be the difference that allows you to arm yourself when you need to.

RELATED STORY: 3 Range Drills for Developing Accuracy, Speed & the Ability to Shoot Under Pressure

Are you ready to deal with injuries that you or other innocent people could suffer even if you prevail in a defensive encounter? Quality medical training is a necessity for anyone that is really interested in leading a safer life.

Comprehensive training in the legal aspects of self-defense and the use of lethal force is also a solid investment in your safety. Understanding how to avoid legal self-defense pitfalls before you need to use your concealed-carry handgun can help you to make the right choices ahead of time, and to take the proper actions before, during and immediately following a self-defense encounter.

Make A Crisis Plan

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Your cell phone is a quick way to get help from first responders.

Your training will help you to prepare in several ways for the aftermath of a potentially lethal violent encounter. One way is dealing with medical issues that routinely occur during violence, and the second is dealing with law enforcement and the investigation that is likely to occur following defensive gun use.

RELATED STORY: 5 Critical Post-Shot Must-Dos

Those two issues are important but they are simply the tip of the iceberg. There can be many issues that need to be dealt with in a deliberate manner in the wake of a self-defense shooting. You need to have a plan, and it should address these key aspects:

• What’s the best way to contact 911? What needs to be communicated to the dispatchers to get the assistance you need as quickly as possible?
• Where, when and how will you reunite with other people you are with? What should your family do if you are involved in a defensive
shooting situation?
• What are ways that you can avoid being identified as a “bad guy” to other legally armed citizens and responding law enforcement officers?
• How will you make sure that the scene is both safe and secure so that you are not forced to continue using your firearm for personal defense? How will you ensure that key evidence remains available for gathering and investigation once the police arrive?

Minimize Your Risk

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Wise people avoid the people, places and situations where violence is more likely.

During a recent trip, I spent several days in a state that has no provision for concealed-carry reciprocity. Of course, this means I was not carrying a concealed handgun. Would you be surprised to find out that this had no effect on my behavior? It’s true.

I have committed to avoid violence regardless of the skills or the tools that I possess. I refuse to take risks just because I am armed, and you should not either. I have no desire to argue over a parking space, interfere in someone else’s business or head to a “rough part of town” unless I absolutely have to.

RELATED STORY: Everyday Survival – How to Escape Daily Dangers

Why? Violence is unpredictable, and even if you do everything “right” you can still lose. Work to avoid violence and you will be less likely to have to deal with the effects of violence.

Of course, there are times when violence comes looking for you. When that is the case it is time to act. Do so and act decisively. When there is another option, however, take it. Avoidance will minimize your exposure to violence and its nasty consequences. Avoidance needs to be a major component of your preparedness to carry a concealed handgun.

Of course, there is more to concealed carry than just these five tips. Preparing to deal with violence is best attacked through a constant process of refining your mindset, skills and tools. If you tend to these five areas, you will have built a solid foundation for concealed carry and increase your everyday readiness.

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