Nova Firearms VA/Utah Concealed Carry: Knowledge is Power
VOSB Series: Nova Firearms Continued
Concealed Carry is typically a hot debate topic when firearms and firearm ownership are discussed. Virginia is a “shall-issue” state for residents and non-residents alike. Open Carry is perfectly legal in most cases, and concealed carry licenses (CCW licenses) are fairly simple to come by. Since carry laws are left up to individual states, some have chosen to adopt reciprocity laws. For example: my VA CCW is recognized in West VA, and a number of other states. Utah is a shall-issue state for nonresidents, and has reciprocity with some states with which Virginia does not, hence the two-state course. Whether you’re a die hard gun person from birth, or a brand new initiate who’s interesting in carrying for personal protection, you’re going to need to provide proof of competence with your firearm. There are plenty of acceptable forms of proof, from NRA safety courses to hunter education classes. However, the most popular kind of CCW training happens at gun shops like Nova Firearms and on the internet.
My opinion is that if you’re going to carry, there’s a lot you should know. Armed citizens have the responsibility of setting their own standards of training and knowledge, and many are woefully inept in both categories. Continuous and vigorous training are absolute musts if you’re planning on carrying responsibly. In any situation during which you may have to deploy your firearm, you’ll need to know the law and you’ll need muscle memory. It all starts with some basic education, which is where Nova Firearms’ first CCW course comes in.
Who Teaches at Nova?
There are plenty of qualified instructors in the world, and at Nova Firearms. You don’t have to be a barrel chested operator with a beard and fifteen deployments under your belt to know Virginia law and be an expert with a handgun. On the day that I took the Virginia and Utah Concealed Carry Course, our instructor actually did happen to be a Special Forces Veteran. He’s a kind and soft spoken guy that clearly had plenty of experience, and knows Virginia well. I think it’s safe to say from my experiences with this particular fellow that his young son could probably outshoot me in just about any scenario.
He was patient and understanding, not assuming that we knew too much. We all appreciated his humor and candid approach to the material, and the course was peppered with anecdotes that were fascinating and sometimes hilarious. At one point he described a firefight during which he was hit by a round of 7.62×39- how many CCW instructors can actually tell you what it’s like to get shot? With most classes for which the material is boring, the instructor really makes or breaks it. At Nova Firearms, you won’t be falling asleep.
What Gets Taught?
When it comes to firearms and how to use them, the course is very basic. Keep in mind that this is more about understanding the legal framework within which armed citizens must function than what to do if you get mugged. According to our instructor, “Today will be boring- it’s basically a long, boring, law class.” He sold himself short; I had a blast. The four hour course took us from end to end of the law, different types of firearms, shooting stances, holsters, self defense scenarios, and common errors / misconceptions. The course included plenty of information about Utah as well, and I left feeling well informed regarding the regulations of both states. Apart from who can carry, what you need to do to apply, where you can and can’t carry, when you may be legally allowed to use your firearm, and myriad other elements of CCW, I noted a few interesting takeaways.
Here are some of the aforementioned notes that I jotted down:
There are a lot of gray areas. There was a serious “I am Not a Lawyer” undertone to the course because of this fact. Real life is a lot weirder than law books, and there are countless scenarios that are open to legal discourse and post-hoc review. Our task was to establish an understanding of the rules as best we could. Just like anything, studying will make all of us more proficient.
You can get in a lot of trouble. Our instructor regaled us with stories of people getting into terrifying amounts of trouble for stupid things, like throwing a bottle of Sunny D out of a moving vehicle. The individual who tossed the container hit an off-duty cop, and is in Leavenworth to this day. As it turns out, a “missile” doesn’t have to be a bullet- it can be an orange-drink container. Stories like this served to scare the living shit out of us and underscore the importance and severity of carrying a concealed weapon- but with refreshing levity. There’s a lot to consider: did you know that there’s a 50 foot extension to the ban of carrying in Federal buildings and schools? If you’re picking your child up from a public school in the carpool lane, it’s best you leave your firearm behind.
Watch out for brandishing. Something as simple as inadvertently resting your hand on your holstered and concealed pistol could be considered brandishing in the eyes of that police officer you didn’t notice behind you. The instructor was very thorough in explaining this (and other) nuances and scenarios.
Be aware of your surroundings while training. Our instructor recounted a story of a new CCW holder practicing holstering and unholstering her firearm. In front of a bay window. In the daytime. With the curtains open. Pointing a firearm at her neighbors. By accident.
The second half of the course contained a lot of useful information about shooting stances, muscle memory, and further training. When we came back from our lunch break, our instructor was playing a series of videos containing unsafe handling of firearms. Although hilarious, it was an instructive look into common errors and how life changing something like a negligent discharge could be. From there, we learned about basic ballistics, ricochets, isosceles vs. weaver, holsters, and finished up with our paperwork. Just a month and a half later, I’m a permit holding Virginian.
What’s the Atmosphere Like?
It’s relaxed. There’s a PowerPoint visual aid, and students read off the slides as the instructor punctuates the lesson with bits of knowledge and conversation points. My group was fairly talkative, so it was a somewhat social experience as well. There’s some hands-on activity with firearms, bullets, and various other objects discussed and passed around. Again, this will vary by instructor. At the conclusion of the course, we all filled out our paperwork and had it reviewed by Nova staff. I would recommend this experience to just about anyone who’s planning on carrying a firearm or just wants to obtain a license for legal protection as they transport their firearms around the state or country.
Why Train at Nova?
You are absolutely not ready to carry a handgun everyday, much less to actually use it if the Virginia and Utah CCW course was your primary introduction to firearms. Even experienced target shooters or hunters likely wouldn’t be ready to carry effectively. There’s a lot more training to do. Nova Firearms has a circumspect approach to training- the CCW course is the introduction. Their Falls Church location will be the center of their developing training program, which includes blue gun combatives, digital simulation training, and will eventually include live fire exercises as well once they work out a relationship with a local range. Carrying a concealed weapon is not a matter to be taken lightly, and training is the most important element of this tremendous responsibility. Nova Firearms takes training seriously, and is a reputable, local, veteran owned small business: who better to support?