Where Should You Wear Your Gun?

By Kellene Bishop

The other day I was on my way up to Salt Lake City to work a “self-reliance conference.”  My car has the entire back window taken up by a vinyl sign for Women of Caliber, mentioning the firearm and physical self-defense classes I offer. Being in a bit of a hurry, I zipped through a school zone without paying attention to my speedometer. After getting midway through the school zone, I slowed down, but if there was a police car watching for me or other speeders I most likely would have been pulled over for speeding.

Instinctively when I recognize that I’m going faster than necessary I look in my rearview mirror to see if I got snagged.  This time was no different. And sure enough, I see a police car pulling out from a side street and come up on me.  I pulled over to the far left lane as I was going to make a left turn at the light, and sure enough, the police car does the same. “Busted” I said to myself, and just waited for him to finish running my plates and turn on his lights.  Suddenly he pulls out from behind me and instead pulls up closely on my right hand side.  He motions for me to roll down my window. “Great!”, I thought, expecting him to tell me to pull over as soon as I finished my left hand turn.  The office begins to speak. “Do you (pause)…” As he pauses I know what he’s going to say—something like “do you have any idea what the speed limit is back there?”  So imagine my surprise when instead he says “Do you…have any cards? Cause I’ve got a lot of women who’d love to talk to you.” Unfortunately, I didn’t have any cards on me as I was to be working outside of my Women of Caliber scope for the conference. Instead I directed him to my website.  I also made perfectly clear that I only teach private to semi-private firearm classes for women and that I focus primarily on a quick-draw self-defense firearm discipline.  He encouraged me to provide him more information (while waiting for the light to change) and I wrapped it all up by telling him the shot was from the hip.  Why the hip?  I’ll tell you.

I’m sure you’ve seen the sexy pictures or movie scenes of the hot, skinny woman carrying a firearm on her thigh, in her bra, in her purse, or even at the small of her back.  There’s also the other carrying areas depicted just under the armpits, in an ankle holster, or stuffed between the belt and the back of some tight jeans.  But the truth is, if it’s self-defense that’s motivating you to own a firearm, then your self-defense mentality doesn’t stop with the purchase of a firearm or getting a “permit” for it.  Carrying it on your person is the best way to make sure you have it when you need it, and it’s actually the safest place to have it when around little ones AND it’s also the most strategic self-defense spot to have it, especially if you get quality training to draw and shoot your firearm in a self-defense scenario.

In the event of an assault, the two most common close encounter attacks come from the back or the front. If he throws you on your back, you have compromised your defense by having the firearm at the small of your back.  If he throws you to the ground, it’s less likely that you’ll be in a good position to grab your weapon from your thigh, bra, or ankle.  Having the firearm on your hip puts it in the closest and most natural vicinity of your hand. (Obviously, placing it on the same side as your dominant hand is important too.) But the number one reason why I believe in carrying it on the hip is because you reduce precious response time, it’s in a natural grab position, AND if you have to, you can actually take the shot from your hip, without having to fully extend your arms out in front of you. Even more important to note, is if you’re trained properly, that hip shot can be just as accurate as the one in which you’re able to fully extend your arms.

With the gun on my hip, I wear a heavy duty Wilderness belt and my Serpa holster. The belt is nice and snug through the belt loops of my pants so that when I have to use the ladies room, there’s no chance of my firearm flip-flopping away from my pants and scaring the bejeebies out of the woman in the stall next to me. The Serpa holster allows me to naturally press the release when I pull the firearm out in a quick-draw self-defense scenario.  It’s designed specifically to make it difficult for someone to come up on me and remove my gun from my possession. It’s a firm holster that will also make sure that I don’t wreak havoc by shooting my firearm in a bathroom stall. (Mind you, every man in the world would come out of the woodwork once this article posts and give their two cents about the Serpa holster and the belt, but that’s to be expected. I am only willing to speak on matters of which I have experience and over a decade of tried and true use.)

Now, having stated that the hip is the best place, strategically speaking, to wear the firearm understand that it carries with it some important skills that need to be practiced.

First of all is practicing removing any clothing out of the way of the draw.  Wearing a firearm on your hip usually necessitates wearing a full shirt or jacket.  This means that as you go for your firearm you’ll need to use your thumb to first clear away the clothing. Every time I put on an outfit with which I’m wearing my firearm I always do a couple of practices clearing my clothing from my firearm draw pattern. If the clothing I’m wearing compromises my ability to do that, then it’s different clothing for me. It’s kind of funny shopping for clothes with my mom or sister. They are looking at how nice something looks on me while I’m making sure my thumb can clear them out of the way of my firearm. *grin*

Next, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re so familiar with the grip on the firearm and the release on your holster that you can easily remove it from your holster.  Again, this requires practice and it’s JUST as critical as target practice—if not, more so. As you remove the firearm from your holster, you want to instinctively keep it close to your side and rotate the end of the barrel forward as it’s coming out of the holster. Practicing this seamless draw is what gives you the advantage in a self-defense scenario. So long as your knuckles, feet, eyes and the front of your body are all pointed towards your target, you can actually hit your target from the hip quite well if necessary.

As most of you know, I specifically teach women in a private and semi-private setting how to master a quick-draw self-defense shot. The beginning of such a shot actually begins with the fundamentals at the hip. You’d be surprised how well a woman can learn to accurately shoot from her hip once she learns these fundamentals and practices this important aspect of self-defense. So perhaps you can practice with a solid practice gun or an airsoft pistol—putting it in your holster and taking it out properly and then squeezing the trigger from the hip.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, my hips are plenty big and I don’t always find it feasible to carry the firearm on me.  In such scenarios, however else you intend to carry it—whether that is in your purse, or under the steering wheel column in your car, it’s critical that you practice repeatedly how you’re going to draw your firearm, aim, and shoot it when necessary.  Of course this is common sense to me, but in the event that someone doesn’t think of this, might I suggest that you NEVER practice this discipline with a loaded firearm.  In fact, I won’t even do the practicing outside of a shooting range with a magazine in the gun—ever.  And even without the magazine I check and triple check my firearm with my husband to be sure that it’s not loaded. Even then I still comply with all of the other safety measures—“the gun is always loaded”, never point it at something you don’t intend to shoot or kill, and keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.

I hope this helps you become more confident and competent in your self-defense measures.

Women of Caliber takes copyright infringement very seriously. Please note that ALL of the content on this page is original and the intellectual property of the author.  Copyright Protected 2011, Women of Caliber and Kellene Bishop. All Rights Reserved. NO portion of ANY content on this site may be duplicated, transferred, copied, or published without written permission from the author. However, you are welcome to provide a link to the content on your own site or in your written works.

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15 Responses

  1. Thanks Kellene! If you didn’t write this just for me, you might as well have!

  2. Glad that you weren’t ticketed. Great insight and article.

  3. Great info. Just went to a gun show yesterday and bought a concealed carry purse (I have a concealed carry licence). I didn’t know about shooting from the hip. Something to look into!

  4. I am passing your article along to my NRA instructor. He only teaches women and is good at what he does. This would make up a good class! Thanks, Kellene!!

  5. Signed up for concealed carry today – class is in a couple of weeks – I’ll be practicing this stuff every night until then, for sure, and will be out on the range a few times – sure hope I can pull the spring visit to you off! I feel like a kid who can see the treasures on the other side of the glass, but can’t quite get to them! We’re just going to keep planning and working toward it!

  6. So, I actually shot a handgun for the first time ever yesterday, after months of talking about it with my husband. A lot of lessons were learned, but the one thing I was left really trying to grasp was where to carry my gun once I get my concealed carry permit. My husband and I have argued for the longest time about where I should carry it. You completely confirmed all of his arguments for why I should not carry it EVERYWHERE I had talked about! LOL But what you also did, that he hasn’t done, was explain precisely why it is a good idea to carry it on my hip…and HOW to make that work. I, too, am blessed with some “nice” hips…so says my hubby…and I was wondering how I would make this work. Your article explains that it is simply getting the right equipment and then training myself to do what I need to do. I really appreciate this article more than you know…and I wish that I could find an instructor with your knowledge to teach me here in the Lone Star state! 🙂

  7. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Thank you, I am already more confident and I don’t own a gun, as of yet. I want to learn everything first and THEN own!

    I feel owning a firearm is becoming a part of life. I thank God you are hear to teach us to use one properly. Thank you for your services, on and offline; You are a Blessing.

  8. Weren’t you on Doomsday Preppers? I thought you were amazing! It’s great to be so prepared. Thank you for all of this useful knowledge. It’s really great that you and your husband are helping people learn and understand this stuff.

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