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BLOG: Things to Know Before Considering a CCW Class

Things to Know Before Considering a CCW Class; An Interview with Carl Shaw – Retired Lakewood Police Officer, Current CCW Course Instructor

Carl began his firearms training with 4 years in the Marine Corp. He was with the Arvada police for a short time and then with the Lakewood Police for 38 years. He was a firearms instructor for 30 of those years, teaching recruits and veterans the necessary skills to be effective and safe on the job. He was also on the SWAT team for 16 years. Carl became an NRA Pistol Instructor after retiring, and has been teaching CCW classes for the last 3 years.

What types of things should students be prepared with before taking a CCW class?
When a student decides they want to take a CCW course, they should review the criteria necessary to obtain the certificate before committing to the class. It’s easy to go online and review all the details with each specific county in advance. For example, folks need to know that you have to be at least 21 years of age. You cannot be a user of drugs or a hold a medical marijuana license, even though the State has legalized the use of marijuana (Federal law governs over State laws, and a background check will be performed before the certificate is issued). Also, they should be aware there is a cost associated with taking the class and then obtaining the certificate. Finally, once someone has decided to take the class and understands the cost and requirements, they should come prepared to listen.

What is your opinion on when someone should shop for a concealed carry gun – before or after taking a CCW course?
It depends on the student’s experience level. Someone taking the class who is an avid shooter and is familiar with different types of firearms has probably already made up their mind. But a novice definitely should not buy the gun before taking the class. After taking the class, they should go out and shoot a variety of guns at an appropriate venue to see what fits and what they are most comfortable with.

What type of follow up training and/or homework do you recommend after someone completes a CCW course?
If someone has not had much training prior to the CCW course, a Basic Pistol class would be a good follow up. There they will learn more specifically how a handgun functions and be schooled in the different safety features. CCW classes do not cover those things in detail. A good thing for everyone (regardless of experience level) to do after completing their CCW requirement, is to continually refresh their memory on the laws associated with concealed carry, laws across different counties, etc. What laws apply when you travel? What if you move? There are sharp penalties for not understanding the laws in detail. For example if your permit expires and you happen to be carrying, it’s a misdemeanor charge.

Are you in favor of Colorado’s requirement of this coursework prior to issuing a permit?
I think it’s a good idea. I’m not in favor of a lot of government intervention, but I like this requirement because of the background check that it includes. I think if you have a firearm on you regularly, you should be subjected to a background check for a myriad of reasons. The background check is also good because of the new marijuana situation in Colorado. If you smoke marijuana (either recreationally or if you have a medical license for it) you will not pass the background check and be issued a permit. Even though marijuana use is now legal in Colorado, Federal law supersedes.

Final thoughts?
Yes. I’ve had inexperienced folks come up to me before a class begins and say that they feel out of place. I always try to make them feel at ease. The CCW class is designed for people that don’t have much experience with the law or with firearms. Good instructors will be prepared to cater their delivery and discussion to a wide variety of experience levels within each class. People with experience as well as those without should get a lot out of a well taught CCW class, and can then decide if they want go further with their formalized firearms training (outside of regular practice).