New Shooter Guide

  • Beau Doboszenski, Owner/Lead Instructor

  • Originally published June 24th, 2017

It's a common scenario: A person decides to go out and buy themselves a defensive firearm.

They might have done a little shooting when they were young, or maybe some hunting or trap shooting, so they're pretty sure that they know exactly what they need for a defensive carry firearm.

The end result is that this new defensive shooter gets some teeny-tiny "Noisy Cricket" a la Men in Black, and when they get to the range, the gun kicks like a mule and sucks to shoot.

I've seen this more times than I can count. So as a Public Service Announcement, here's are some guidelines that you can share with new defensive shooters.

First, get training.

Hunting with a shotgun is NOT the same thing as running a handgun at the defense of your life. Period. Long guns (shotguns and rifles) are simply easier to use than handguns, and easier to shoot with accuracy.

With a handgun in a defensive situation, you will also need to be able to do more than simply shoot. Consider draws, retention, immediate actions, deterrence, low light, and combatives to hold off a close contact threat while you draw the handgun. None of these skills happen by magic. They require detailed lessons and consistent practice.

By getting solid training first, you will learn exactly what type of handgun would be most appropriate for your situation and skill level, and you'll have the comfort level necessary to take that new firearm to the range and practice your skills accordingly.

Decide how you will be carrying your handgun and seek out a carry system that will work for both carrying and training.

Having a good holster can make all the difference in whether you carry your defensive handgun or leave it at home. If you're constantly having to fidget with the holster or the placement of the handgun, you'll be uncomfortable carrying, plus you'll be letting everyone know that you've got a firearm on you. Both are bad.

I generally suggest Inside the Waistband holsters. I have been using a Crossbreed for years. It's solid, comfortable, and stays in place for draws or holstering. One of my students almost always carries in an off-body bag, like a Push-Pack from 5.11. He's a personal trainer and almost always in athletic gear, not really conducive to a belt and holster. He puts a Crossbreed holster into the Push-Pack pouch to secure the handgun in the bag. Another DMT Advanced shooter uses appendix holsters from Tier 1 Concealment, a very solid and reputable system. A less effective set up would be a Gun Sock. These floppy sticky holsters are super cheap, but they have no retention. Once you've drawn the firearm, the whole holster has to come out of your waistband to put the firearm back in, making them a serious pain in the neck if you're trying to train, not to mention that they have little incentive for staying in place if you found yourself in a serious physical fight.

No matter what kind of holster set up you choose, you need to be able to consistently train with it. If your holster doesn't make that convenient, look for another.

Finally, keep practicing.

This, of course, is a no-brainer. Defensive response is all about developing neural pathways in response to stimulus. That way, the pathways you've laid down can and will be kicked off by incoming violent threat stimulus. The structure of the defensive technique, things like draws or immediate actions, will not work in real life unless they've been programmed and stimulated in training and scenarios that are as close to real world conditions as possible.

You might not have Defensive Mindset Training close by, but if you've got a firearm simulator (a SIRT) and some dry fire drills, you at least can develop the reps. Since half of buying a defensive firearm is being well-trained enough to use it, in my opinion you must also own a SIRT.

SIRTs allow you to get in hundreds of reps without having to fire a single round, saving you time (no need to drive to the range everyday) and money (less spent on ammunition).

Get your SIRT at and use the promo code: sealed for a special discount.