South Carolina Concealed Weapons Permit separation

What to bring to a gun class

Have Gun, Will Teach echoes the classic Western hero, Paladin. Handguns
Long Guns
Ear and Eye Protection
Food and Drink
Holster and Belt

We hold South Carolina CWP, Florida CWP, personal protection, and other firearms classes at convenient locations throughout the greater Columbia, SC, area. They're always an easy drive from Columbia, Sumter, and everywhere else in South Carolina's midlands. Because our classes are near major highways and airports we attract residents of states such as New York, Florida, and Georgia as well as people from throughout South Carolina who want a South Carolina or Florida Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP), a Basic Pistol certificate, and world class training in personal protection for civilians. Don't let distance discourage you from taking any of our classes. 

No matter where we hold your class the following is dictated by our dual concern for your success and for your safety—and for our safety and everyone else's too. Firearms safety is our foremost concern and is never negotiable. Our web site is recognized internationally for its major section about gun safety. We hope you'll benefit from it even if you never take one of our classes and even if you're not a gun owner. We're all in this world together.

Although other instructors have their own preferences and we won't speak for anyone else, we wouldn't be surprised if you found that our core recommendations help you in classes held by the best instructors everywhere.

So what follows is intended to ensure your success and your comfort consistent with our own concern for gun safety. We want you to succeed and to enjoy your experiences with us. We know you're likely to practice what you enjoy. Very smart people have been using firearms for purposes including both recreation and self-defense long before there were people who tried to tell others it was wrong to do so. Of course everyone needs to be safe around any potentially-dangerous mechanical device like a firearm, which is why we focus on gun safety throughout our classes and in explaining what to bring to them.

First, you need to know that students may not bring firearms or ammunition into a classroom. Student firearms brought to a shooting bay must be safe, unloaded, and either cased or in a bag or other appropriate container. Bring only safe, unmodified, perfectly functioning guns that you yourself can shoot. If you aren't sure that you can shoot your own gun it would be a good idea to arrange for Personal Training with us before you take a class with other people who need attention too.

Second, you must recognize that we're not gunsmiths and can't check every gun, nor can we repair your gun if it does not function properly, but we will not allow one that seems unsafe to us. It's your responsibility to make sure that a gun you bring to class actually works as it should.

Third, keep in mind that the following covers general matters. When there are specific requirements or suggestions for a particular class we tell you and/or email them to you before the class.

Both pistols and revolvers can be good concealed carry handguns in South Carolina depending on the situation.Handguns. If you already own a handgun you intend to carry concealed we'd like you to use it in class so you get as much as possible from that class. Either a double-action revolver or a semi-automatic pistol in a self-defense caliber is good.

No single action revolvers, derringers, target, plinking, or novelty guns, and no .25 or .50 caliber guns.

No .22 caliber semi-automatic pistols: they tend to be fussy about ammunition, jam during shooting qualification tests, and require everyone else to wait while their shooters constantly fiddle with them or require assistance to get the gun running. A .22 caliber double-action revolver is a useful practice tool but it's not ideal for self-defense and rarely makes sense in this kind of class except, possibly, for some people with handicaps that prevent their use of other handguns.

No Hi-Point, no Lorcin, no Standard Arms, no Jennings, no Bryco, no Jimenez Arms, no Charter Arms, no Rohm, no AMT .380 Backup.  No junk. No exceptions.

If ever you are tempted to buy cheap because you don't yet know enough to assess real value for yourself, keep in mind the following known as the Common Law of Business Balance.  It is especially appropriate to firearms and to firearms training too:

“There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey. It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

A Glock 26 or Glock 27 can be a highly effective carry gun for many people.If you don't already own a suitable handgun we can lend you one of ours if you arrange the loan with us in advance and pay us for the ammunition in class before you use it. If you use our gun you must use ammunition we provide for it. (Of course you pay us for the ammunitiion.) It's a safety issue. We want our guns used with ammunition we ourselves would use. If we lend you a handgun we'll lend you a belt holster for it too but you must wear your own 1-1/2" wide sturdy belt to use with it. (1-1/2" is not 1" or 1-3/4".)

We don't have belts or other clothing to lend. When you bring your own gun you need to bring your own holster for it too. The unavailability of a suitable holster for a gun is a clue that it would be wise to get a different gun. Be sure to read our comments on Holster and Belt below.

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Long Guns. Not every class involves the use of a "long gun" (a shotgun or rifle). If you're taking a class that requires a long gun bring the kind of shotgun or rifle that is appropriate for the class as we describe it. We're highly flexible in such matters. We're not gun snobs. We want to train you with the gun you'll actually use.

We offer personal protection shotgun and rifle classes and we also provide personal training in the defensive uses of shotguns and rifles. That's what interests us: self-defense and personal protection by ordinary people who recognize the responsibility to care for themselves and their families. 

You won't need a long gun in CWP, Basic Pistol, Home Defense, Defensive Handgun, or Personal Protection classes. Those are handgun classes.

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Always use factory fresh ammunition in a CWP and personal protection class.Ammunition. Bring only fresh factory ammunition for the gun you use. Read the gun, read the manual, read the box, and read the cartridge case: they all should specifiy the same ammunition. No reloads or handloads or "remanufactured" ammunition: only factory new ammunition from a major manufacturer such as Winchester, Remington, or Federal. We're not fussy about the brand: those are just examples. (Tip: When there's a choice between ammunition labeled something like "Target" or "Personal Protection," choose "target" for use in class unless we say otherwise. It's less expensive and works just as well on paper targets as more powerful and more costly ammunition.)

All ammunition must be in factory fresh boxes as purchased from the store. Don't bring old, corroded ammunition and don't mix or repack what you bring. These are safety concerns. Nobody does you a favor by telling you it's okay to overlook potential problems with ammunition that could hurt you or someone else.

Bring more ammunition than is required for any class: that way you won't run short, can take advantage of opportunities to practice, and return home with the excess. Extra ammunition won't spoil and we want you to have a great experience in class. We don't think anyone does you a favor by advising you to bring only the amount of ammunition you're required to shoot for qualification. For example, we think it's unwise to bring only 50 rounds of ammunition to meet SLED's requirement that you must shoot 50 rounds to qualify for the CWP: if even one of those rounds fails to work you are in trouble. Bring 100 rounds to class and take your unused ammunition home with you. 

It's just like real life: you can't win if you're unprepared. So right from the start we teach you to be prepared and avoid unnecessary risks. We go far beyond telling you the usual "be prepared." We help you learn how to be prepared. Don't try to game this system. Your life is at stake.

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The right holster, belt, eye protection, and hearing protection helps you succeed in a firearms training class.Ear and Eye Protection. Bring good hearing protection and good vision protection, and always wear them when anyone is shooting on the range.

Anyone shooting a firearm must have and must employ good eye and ear protection. Use them or suffer permanent physical damage. Consult your own health care professionals for what you need to protect your health. We're not vision or hearing specialists. 

  • We know from experience that ear plugs (hearing protectors you push into your ears) block useful sounds and prevent you from hearing instructors and commands. That's not good on a shooting range or in a class. If you can't hear us you can't know what we're saying.

  • Earmuffs—even inexpensive industrial earmuffs you can buy at stores such as Wal-Mart, Lowe's, or Home Depot—are better and more useful than ear plugs because you can lift them briefly when you know the instructors are giving commands. Like ear plugs that kind of earmuff tends to prevent you from hearing unexpected instructions and other sudden information too.

  • Neither form of "passive hearing protection" is as useful as "active hearing protection" such as electronic earmuffs.  Electronic earmuffs are most useful because they reduce the intensity of gunshots while allowing nearby voices.

The relative costs are about $1 for ear plugs, about $9 for non-electronic earmuffs, and about $60-$70 for basic electronic earmuffs. When we talk about "earmuffs" in the context of shooting we're talking about hearing protection, not earwarmers.

We show you useful directions but it's up to you to take responsibility for your own protection. The student in the accompanying illustration is holding a basic pair of protective earmuffs and eye protection (as well as a useful combination of belt and belt holster).

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Food and Drink. Proper hydration is essential in our Southern climate, even during fall and winter. You should bring water to our classes and drink frequently, but of course we can't parent you and must rely on your own good sense. Bring lunch to CWP classes and other classes that span lunchtime: there's no nearby place to purchase lunch and no time to do it. (Tip: Feel free to bring other snacks, especially health bars, but not chocolates or other sweets. You don't want a sugar rush.)

Of course we do not allow beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages or intoxicants in our classes, or on the shooting range, or in any connection that might possibly affect a participant's behavior. You won't find us inviting you to "bring your own bottle."

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Wear a baseball cap when shooting handguns. The NRA hat is additional protection on the shooting range.Clothing. Dress appropriately for the weather and for a sandy environment in the Columbia, SC area. Men and women both should wear long pants with pockets for spare ammunition, a shirt with sleeves that can roll up, socks and sneakers or boots or rough shoes, and a baseball type cap as additional protection. (Tip: When you join or renew NRA membership through us in our class we give you an NRA baseball cap that is perfect when shooting.) The cap protects against trapping hot cartridges behind your eye protection and shields your eyes from glaring sun.

In this climate we suggest that you dress in layers including a T-shirt so you can adjust according to temperature and humidity. Our shooting bays are outdoors. An outdoor shooting environment is superb when you know how to adjust for conditions—better than an indoor shooting range for serious defensive training and much better ventilated too. That's important when lead particles are in the air. We shoot in all but the most extreme weather conditions. Check your email the morning of a class: if you don't get an email from us that morning calling a class off, assume that the class is on.

Sweatshirts, pullovers, jackets, or anything else that can catch a gun, dangle inside its trigger guard, or get in your way are unsafe for classes. If a cover garment can't tuck into your pants it must unzip, unbutton, or unfasten so it is completely open while you're wearing a gun and never conceals or hides or obscures or covers your gun. We must be able to see your gun when it's on your person or in your hands.

No threatening or offensive slogans on anything please. Do wear socks and don't wear sandals: your feet must be protected from hot shells. There are good reasons why experienced people who shoot dress as they do. Personal safety is foremost among those reasons.

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Good training and the right holster and belt make it easy to draw and reholster a handgun.Holster and Belt. These are safety issues, not fashion preferences. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You don't want to walk around dangling an unholstered and potentially loaded handgun. You most certainly don't want to be around other people who behave that way.

It's not cool for anyone to mishandle a gun and we're not meanies for insisting on proper gun handling in our classes. We're alive and uninjured and we have plans to continue that way for many years to come. We practice personal protection and we teach you to do the same—starting right now. Don't hurt yourself.

You do want to learn and develop skill in how to draw from a holster and shoot in the event that it's necessary for you to stop a deadly force attacker. In our CWP and Basic Pistol classes we require a belt holster (also known as an "outside the waistband holster") because those holsters tend to be safest for people in basic classes. We teach that your equipment should work for you. It must not endanger you, other students, or us.

You also want a belt holster so that later you can practice marksmanship and other basic skills without getting tangled in more complex holsters used for concealment. You absolutely need a belt holster if you're taking the required training class for a South Carolina CWP because SLED's shooting qualification test for certification requires you to shoot a substantial number of rounds after drawing from a holster. You can't draw from a holster unless you're wearing the holster from which you will draw.

Good holsters are made for specific handguns. Bring a good quality belt holster suitable for your handgun and make sure it fits both your belt and your gun perfectly before you come to class. Don't bring a holster with a retention strap. No retention holsters, inside-the-waistband, cross-draw, shoulder, small-of-back, bellybands, Thunderware, ankle holsters, pocket holsters, loops of string, clipdraws, wallet holsters, or other novelty holsters. We'd like you to practice what you've learned in class after it's over and we know you'll enjoy shooting more with a good quality belt holster and belt than with something makeshift or some overly complex device that is an accident waiting to happen.

The five-stitch Original Wilderness Instructor Belt works well with many belt holsters.Your belt must fit you, your holster, and the belt loops on your pants. They form a system. The goal is for the belt to support your gun in your holster without flopping or sagging. We ourselves usually wear Original Wilderness Instructor Belts of the 5-stitch kind. We like that belt 1-1/2" wide, which is the width required by holsters we use. We get ours from Lightning Arms Sports (if you phone them ask for Craig or Audrey and tell them you were recommended by Paladin Services LLC in Columbia, SC).  We've found the 1-1/2" wide Original Wilderness Instructor Belt (5-stitch) so comfortable that we often wear it with sportswear. 

If you're wheelchair bound or have some other relevant medical disability we'll work out an appropriate holster situation with you in class. We want you safe, capable, competent, and successful. We enjoy helping.

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Email us for more information and an application to attend any of our classes. Please include your local phone number so we can call you to answer your questions and get information about what you need. We'll be happy to hear from you.

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