conceal carry weapon training at a shooting range
You’ll know the basics when you leave your CCW course, but if you’re serious about personal protection investing in continuing firearms education makes sense. Brad Fitzpatrick

As of 2018 more than 17 million CCW permits had been issued in the United States. It’s encouraging that so many Americans are taking advantage of their Second Amendment rights to defend themselves and their families, but concealed carry classes were designed to be an introduction to handgun defense. Classes cover basic firearms handling and shooting alongside a range of other topics like carry laws, gun maintenance, and caliber selection.

There are many excellent CCW instructors but it’s simply impossible to delve into the technical aspects of handgun defense in a single class session—especially for new shooters. You’ll know the basics when you leave your CCW course, but if you’re serious about personal protection investing in continuing firearms education makes sense.

A qualified instructor can improve your skill with a handgun and help you develop the mindset needed to survive a violent encounter. Regardless of your level of experience with a firearm investing in continuing firearms training is a worthwhile investment that may save your life.

Taking Your Skills to the Next Level

Il Ling New holding a rifle
Il Ling New is a long time hunting guide, trap and skeet shooter, and today is one of the top instructors at Gunsite Academy. Brad Fitzpatrick

Il Ling New has been guiding hunters since the age of 17 and in college she served as the captain of Yale University’s trap and skeet team. Several years ago, New took a handgun defense course at Arizona’s Gunsite Academy, which was founded by the legendary firearms instructor Colonel Jeff Cooper.

New continued her firearms education, and today she is one of Gunsite’s top instructors and one of the country’s most sought-after trainers. She is a firm believer in the notion that obtaining a concealed carry license is just the first step in armed personal protection.

“I’m adamant about people understanding that CCW classes actually are not meant to teach you how to shoot,” New says. “As valuable as they are, the courses required for licensing focus on other aspects of concealed firearm carry.  Actually using a firearm for self-defense is a physical and mental skill set that requires and deserves specific training.”

real life training course
There is no substitute for real life training scenarios. Brad Fitzpatrick

Gunsite Academy, where New spends part of her time instructing, offers one of the widest ranges of firearms courses available today. Founded in 1976 by Col. Cooper, Gunsite was originally known as the American Pistol Institute, a place where civilians and military and law enforcement personnel learned Cooper’s “Modern Technique” of shooting.

Today, Gunsite covers 4.5 square miles of Arizona desert and offers dozens of ranges where shooters learn to shoot pistols, shotguns, and rifles and its roster of instructors includes some of the premier firearms trainers in the nation.

Shooters who have obtained a CCW course can attend the five-day Pistol 250 course, known as the “Gunsite Experience” since it was introduced by Colonel Cooper in 1976. It’s a far deeper dive into personal handgun defense than the standard concealed carry class, an in-depth training that begins with safety training and instruction on drawing and firing the weapon to more technical training such as night/low light shooting.


I’ve been fortunate enough to take several courses at Gunsite (two with Il Ling New) and I quickly realized after spending time training with their instructors that CCW classes simply aren’t enough if you’re serious about winning a gunfight. And, in the end, that’s what it’s about.

It’s not a pleasant thought, and no rational person ever wants to be caught in the midst of a gunfight, but it can and does happen. If it does you owe it to yourself and your family to be as well-prepared to stop the threat as possible.

The Benefits of Next-Level Training

Defensive shooting is about more than simply learning the mechanics of a firearm. And while gun handling is crucial, it’s just one aspect of personal defense.

three men in a shooting range
Shooters on the line at Gunsite. Brad Fitzpatrick

“It’s not just about drawing from your IWB holster or purse, and it’s not just about improving your ability to hit where you need to,” New says. “As fundamental as those skills are, serious CCW holders should want more, and focused, professional training can take you beyond those basics.”

In addition to more trigger time, next-level classes offer training on a variety of topics that relate to personal defense. According to New, these include learning to quickly assess problems (since you’re on the instructor’s clock), training to respond to situations on demand, and learning to manage your own stress—all while handling a gun safely and shooting accurately.

man aiming handgun through a car window
It’s important to practice shooting from unconventional positions and from cover or concealment. Brad Fitzpatrick

Two additional aspects of next-level training are crucial to increasing your odds of success in a deadly encounter, says New. She says that professional training help shooters develop a “subconscious database” of experience and increase confidence.

“Those two elements — what problems you’ve faced (experience), and what you’ve done to solve them (confidence) — will do more for your defensive capability than you can imagine,” says New. “No matter what your shooting background, you’ll benefit.  I try to get as much training as I can.  I also look at training as the foundation for my practice — in training, I learn what to do. In practice, I hone my ability to execute what I’ve trained to do.”

man aiming handgun in front of a white truck
Shooting on the move is a crucial skill that carries over from competition shooting. Brad Fitzpatrick

Next-level training isn’t cheap, but I think it’s a fantastic investment for anyone who’s serious about personal defense.

For more information on Gunsite Academy’s training courses visit