Concealed Carry: Why I Stopped & How I Started Again

Protection and safety are paramount to human life, no matter the lifestyle. For many people, achieving safety and protection includes concealed carrying a handgun. By way of concealed carrying a weapon, folks feel safer and better prepared to protect themselves and their loved ones if necessary. I didn’t always concealed carry, and up until a few years ago, I did not carry on a regular basis. Here’s why.

When I entered the firearm industry over 15 years ago, I didn’t carry every day. It wasn’t a high priority for me to have a firearm on me at any given time. I grew up with a police officer (and later police chief) for a father, so he was always carrying. When I met and married my husband, he religiously carried. For me, it wasn’t seen as a “must do” but as a “could do.” It wasn’t until I had kids that I realized how important it was.

Crowd of people
Safety and personal protection aren’t the responsibility of those around you. It’s your responsibility, especially if you have children. It was naive of me to think otherwise.

Skills are Perishable

But here’s the thing about carrying, and shooting in general, if you don’t continue to shoot and train regularly the skill is extremely perishable. Skills perish quite quickly if you are not careful, and I did not continue with my training. Which is sad given the industry and the folks I had access to train with.

In other words, I got complacent and that was not good. Since I was around firearms all day, every day at work, I didn’t really think about the need to continue to train and do drills with my carry weapon. It was just a thing I carried around in my EDC, but that was about it.

Furthermore, I did not want to become a statistic and be fodder for the antis. We all have heard the statistics of handgun usage for self-defense or having weapons in the home in general. While some of those studies have been thoroughly discredited, the thought was there. I did not want my home or myself to be a part of that.

So, I stopped carrying my pistol on a daily basis.

My husband did not like the idea, but he didn’t push it. When we would discuss it, and we discussed it a lot, I usually ended up coming back to the same cop-out that being a female it is hard to carry a pistol concealed given the style of clothing I like to wear. That argument has been shredded by so many women that I admire that it is embarrassing to even bring it up now, but it is a large sticking point for me.

Possible threat
When I stopped carrying, I didn’t think about the possible threats around me. I relied on others to assuage that threat, and in realizing this, I decided to start carrying again.

So, what changed?

Well, life and the world, in general, got a little weird over the past decade and have continued to get worse (the world that is). I realized that I couldn’t, and shouldn’t, rely on others to keep myself and my family safe. It was not a solid plan. After discussions with people I trust, I started carrying again.

Concealed Carry — How?

But that isn’t where I wanted the idea to end.

Holster Options

I started looking at different holster options for my handgun options (Glock 19, S&W Shield, and later a Glock 43). The bag I was carrying at the time had a dedicated pocket for a handgun, so I used that, and it worked ok for a time. Off-body carry isn’t always desirable, but it was a good way to get me back into carrying concealed again.

Dummy rounds to practice for concealed carry
One of the best ways I’ve gotten comfortable concealed carrying again has been doing drills with the dummy rounds and the Tap Rack Dry Fire followers. With these two practice aids I have gotten a good feel for my trigger break and how to handle my firearm in a safe manner if I should get a malfunction. Being comfortable with my gun has led to greater confidence in my carry abilities.


I also purchased some dummy rounds and Tap Rack Dry Fire dummy ammo. I use these to practice holster drawing skills, dry fire drills and trigger pulls. These drills are essential for practice and all the muscle memory that need to be present if you want to responsibly carry. The trigger pull practice is necessary to know and feel the break of your trigger. The holster draw and dry fire practice can make the difference when seconds count.

The next thing I did was actually get out and shoot. I took an Enhanced concealed carry class with range time to help my skills and plus up my knowledge around legal ramifications for carrying concealed or using my gun. Regular trips to the range for practice will be a usual thing going forward. As I’ve said, shooting is a perishable skill, and I don’t want my skills to get rusty.

Shooting at a range, training for concealed carry
One big step for me in carrying concealed was participating in an Enhanced Concealed Carry class here in Idaho. It is an 8-hour course that covers the legal ramifications of carrying and using a gun, along with dedicated range time to help demonstrate where you need more training.

I’m far from done with training but at least I have made a solid start. Regardless of the choice to carry to not, you need to make sure you stay up on your practice and skills. For me, I’ll be taking a Defensive Pistol class soon to continue to work on my own handling skills and accuracy.

I continued to seek out opinions and knowledge about different concealed options or what adjustments I could make to my carry. I have watched many videos on YouTube on carrying techniques and drawing practices. Everyone has their own opinions, and I have tried to seek out the middle ground on the videos to find what works for me while being safe.

Other Concealed Carry Options

Additionally, I looked for different means of carrying concealed. A while back I wrote about how I carry in the backcountry, and it works for me. But when it comes to front country carry, I’m still not settled on my choice.

Osprey Chest Pack
I generally carry off-body, but when I’m in the backcountry, on-body carry is the only way. Having encountered predators far away from help, it is the only means of protection for myself and my family. Both my husband and I use chest packs to keep our carry guns close at hand, quite literally.

I have done on-body and off-body carry and understand that off-body concealed carry has inherent risks. When you carry off-body, as in a purse, the entire bag gets treated as a weapon. If you set the bag down, it is as good as setting a loaded weapon down unguarded.

For on-body carry, I have tried a few different holsters, like options from Tenicore and Raven Concealment, but lately have been eyeing another option from Phlster. There are pluses and minuses for each holster, but I’m not sold on any one holster yet. The main issue I have with any on-body carry is catering my clothing choices to the holster. That is a common issue for women wanting to carry. I’ll get it sorted out soon enough.

Looking Forward

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to carrying a firearm concealed. I know there is still more to learn and work through, but I have a good basis to go from. I’ll continue to test out different holster and carry options until I find the one that is right for me. Because it isn’t about just carrying a gun, it’s about the protection and safety of myself and my family.

Patti Miller is one of the most awesome females in the tactical/firearm (or any) industry. Imagine a tall, hawt, dangerous Laura Ingalls Wilder type with cool hair and a suppressed blaster and you'll be getting the idea. What's interesting is that in addition to being a willing brawler and intrepid adventuress, she's also an Ent/Ogier level gardener and a truly badass baker.

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