You bought a handgun and have taken a step toward being a more prepared and capable person—just another tool in the toolbox. You now have the option of carrying under Texas Constitutional Carry or by going further and getting your License to Carry (LTC). Getting your LTC requires that you pass a basic shooting test which we'll talk about further.
The Texas LTC Standard
Passing the Texas LTC shooting test is easy. Most people pass without any problems, even new shooters, as the standards are simple. All strings start from the 'low ready' position and can be fired one or two-handed. Low ready means you have your grip set, and the gun is about chest level. The strings of fire are:
3 Yards - 20 Rounds total
- 1 shot in 2 seconds - 5 times
- 2 shots in 3 seconds - 5 times
- 5 shots in 10 seconds -1 time
7 Yards - 20 Rounds total
- 5 shots in 10 seconds - 1 time
- 2 shots in 4 seconds - 1 time
- 3 shots in 6 seconds - 1 time
- 1 shot in 3 seconds - 5 times
- 5 shots in 15 second - 1 time
15 Yards - 10 Rounds total
- 5 shots in 10 seconds - 1 time
- 2 shots in 4 seconds - 1 time
- 3 shots in 6 seconds - 1 time
- 1 shot in 3 seconds - 5 times
- 5 shots in 15 second - 1 time
In most cases, if all the shots are on paper at the three and seven-yard lines, you could miss all ten rounds at 15 yards and still pass. As a shooting standard, this is not acceptable. It does not do a sufficient job of testing the skills that will likely be required of you in a force-on-force event. Given permitless carry is now law in Texas, I make the argument that the LTC shooting test creates a false sense of preparedness for those that take and pass it. Instead, it should serve as merely a datapoint that describes your ability to shoot two-handed. This is one of several skills that should be considered as part of the minimum viable skills needed for a responsible person that carries a firearm.
A Higher Standard
The LTC can be passed blindly by a shooter with sound fundamentals. While writing this, I shot the LTC blindfolded and passed without issue - all rounds were on paper. Ultimately, if you are carrying and genuinely intend to protect yourself or the lives of those you care about, we MUST hold ourselves to a higher standard. Under psychological or physical duress, we can't think about how to grip the gun, drive the gun efficiently to the target, or consciously do any fundamental task of marksmanship. Instead, we need to be focused on how to solve the problem at hand or avoid the escalation to deadly force if a scenario still allows for that.
I am reminded of Haley Strategic's creed, ''Thinkers before shooters.'' The fundamentals need to be baked into your mind to be called upon subconsciously. The only active process should be, am I looking at the right thing, and is my gun oriented effectively over it. The rest of your mental power must be focused on solving the problem before you.
Some examples of standards that are easy to self-administer and effective measures of your skill are linked below.
- Ken Hackathorn's Wizard Drill
- Todd Green's FAST Drill demonstrated by Ernest Langdon
- Ernest Langdon's Super Test
In the book, Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training, authors Karl Rehn & John Daub discuss in detail the context surrounding a minimum practical standard for defensive handgun skills. Minimum in this case to mean, a realistic interpretation of where your skills lie in relation to the skills necessary as a person that carries daily. It is neither the end target nor a definition that you are low-skilled. Rather, we should ask ourselves, on our worst day, poorest effort, to produce a result that would achieve a minimum metric. If not, that should inform your training path and skill development. Realize also that these are perishable skills - one and done is not sufficient when the stakes are so high.
The idea is you should hold yourself to a higher standard. Firearms are not a magical talisman capable of solving problems for us - they are tools that can only perform up to a percentage level of our training. Skills in combination will degrade yet you are always responsible and accountable for every round that leaves your barrel. So if you truly care about preserving the lives of those you care about, let alone yourself, train to a level that supports that way of thinking. Pressure test yourself against standards, the clock, or others in competition. Raise your level of training and bring those around you up.
If you're in the Austin area, we recommend our partners at Central Texas Gun Works for your LTC. After that, seek out further training to develop your skillset and then dedicate 15 minutes a week to dry fire to sustain those skills. You'll notice our instructors are constantly learning, training, and becoming more capable too. It's a journey that doesn't end.
This is our Gear Guide, the pistol edition. It is for new shooters and is designed to answer common questions we often get. We'll cover the following topics:
- Handgun Selection
- Eye Protection
- Hearing Protection
- Range Belts
- Magazine Pouches
- First Aid Kit
- Lady's Clothing
Handgun selection is very individualized. Some guns will fit your hands better than others, affecting your ability to create optimal performance reliably. Further, how you intend to use the pistol will also influence which tool is best for you. For example, if you want to carry, where you will do so, and how you'll carry will influence pistol and holster selection.
On the other hand, if you are just a hobbyist, handgun size doesn't matter as much as how we will use the tool now carries fewer constraints. If you have questions about matching your goals to a pistol, get in touch, and we can set up a range session with multiple example pistols. Some options we generally suggest are listed here:
STRIKER FIRED PISTOLS
- Beretta 92G Elite LTT
- Beretta PX4 Compact Carry
- CZ P-07
Ballistic eye protection is suggested as it provides impact resistance that safeguards your eyes from any debris on the range. Your sunglasses are okay for shooting paper, but we recommend rated eye protection as soon as steel is in the mix.
- Walkers Shooting Glasses
Essential protection at minimal cost
- Oakley SI Tombstone Array
Excellent edge to edge protection and interchangeable lenses for varying light
- Hunters HD Gold
Lenses adapt to changes in light conditions
Gunshots produce loud bursts of sound that can damage the middle ear's bones leading to hearing loss or tinnitus. We want to protect from these loud sounds while still retaining the ability to listen to voices and other soft sounds. Our recommendations are electronic hearing protection as they satisfy both of these goals.
- SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders - In-Ear
Excellent passive protection at an affordable price
- Howard Leight Impact Sport - Over-Ear
Excellent protection at a great price
- Sordin Supreme PRO X - Over-Ear
Excellent protection and comfortable ear cups
- OTTO Engineering NoizeBarrier Micro - In-Ear
In-ear plugs that feature rechargeable batteries and a convenient case
Choose in-ear if you primarily shoot outdoors and don't shoot a lot of unsuppressed rifle. If you shoot indoors and/or lots of unsuppressed rifle, go for over-ear options. Over-the-ear options better protect the conductive bones around the ear, while in-ear is mainly blocking energy that's traveling through the ear canal.
An inner/outer belt combination for general range work is suggested and allows you to have a set "rig" for training adjusted to your specific needs. Either of the following options would work great.
The holster's purpose is to retain the pistol until you decide to deploy it. There are two components to a belt-mounted holster—the holster body, specific to a single handgun in most cases, and the belt attachment. We prefer the GCODE RTI system since it allows you to change holster bodies for different pistols rapidly. Even if you only have a single handgun, it offers a secure platform to mount the gun.
- GCode RTI Optimal Drop Platform
Drops the pistol below your waistline, making it easier to draw from
Video – How to order
- GCode RTI Belt Slide
Basic slide that mounts to most belts
- Red Hill Tactical Holsters
Lots of options and configurability
Video - How to order
- GCode OSH Holsters
Having three magazine pouches on you for practice sessions means more time shooting and less time going back and forth to your kit bag. It also means that you can practice discreet skills such as reload mechanics more efficiently.
Loading lots of rounds can be tedious and wear on your thumbs. Conveniently MagLula makes a tool to solve this problem.
First Aid Kit
A trauma kit, or individual first aid kit, is necessary equipment while training with firearms. Our instructors always have these on them or immediately available. It is essential to know how to preserve life when and if the time calls for it. Below are two great options and a list of items that we recommend if you want to put your own kit together.
Lady's Specific Rangewear
One question that has come up multiple times is what leggings have belt loops and are comfortable in Texas. We've had great feedback from the following companies!
On September 1st, 2021, Texas Constitutional Carry goes into effect. Otherwise known as HB1927 the "Firearm Carry Act of 2021 (FCA)," the bill will give law-abiding citizens the freedom to carry a handgun without an LTC. There are still strong reasons to consider getting your license to carry, and at minimum, understand the laws.
Do I Need an LTC to Carry in Texas?
Let's take a look at a summary of the stipulations that allow you to carry under the new act. You must meet all the following criteria:
- Must be 21 years of age or older
- Must not be prohibited from having a firearm in public under Texas law
- No felons
- No people convicted of assault on a family or household member
- No people under some protective orders
- Must not be prohibited from owning a firearm under federal law
- Must not have been convicted of certain offenses within the past five years
- Assault causing bodily injury
- Deadly conduct
- Disorderly conduct involving discharging or displaying a firearm
So assuming you are a responsible person in good standing under the law and 21 years of age or older, then the answer is you do not need an LTC to carry in Texas. There is also no requirement that a person carrying under the act be a Texas resident!
So I Can Carry Everywhere?
Not quite. Broadly the Act allows you to carry in any public location that does not have the appropriate notices in place or otherwise is not a prohibited place, such as a Post Office. It is key to note that there are differences in where a person carrying under the FCA can possess a firearm compared to an LTC holder.
For example, carrying under the FCA allows you to be on a collegiate campus' walkways, streets, sidewalks, garages, and grounds where a school-sponsored activity is NOT taking place. Going inside a building of a college is prohibited though under the Texas Constitutional Carry. On the other hand, LTC holders can do so so long as there is not 30.06 signage.
Finally, there is new signage specific to the FCA that you must be aware of if you choose to carry under the Act. These are the 51% sign and the new 46.03 sign. This leads us to the next topic; should you still get your Texas License to Carry?
To LTC or Not
So the question we are left with is, why would you still get your Texas License to Carry? That answer is pretty straightforward actually. There are multiple upsides to getting your LTC and more allowances to where you are permitted to have a firearm on your person.
Plain and simple, as an LTC holder you have more rights.
- Clarity for Law Enforcement Officers as they adjust to FCA. An LTC makes it clear that you are a responsible person exercising your rights.
- Avoid NICS delays and walk out with your firearm in most cases when purchasing.
- Certain prohibited places must post appropriate 30.06 or 30.07 signage to lawfully prevent LTC holders from carrying on-premises.
- The FCA allows for any verbal, hand-drawn, printed, or 46.03 sign to serve as lawful prevention.
- On-Private Property, if you do not see a posted sign, it is construed as an "oops" type event. Under FCA, you will have broken the law.
- There is a zero-tolerance limit for alcohol while carrying under Texas Constitutional Carry. For LTC holders that will now be .08%.
- Reciprocity with other states. This provides peace of mind while traveling to other states that recognize the Texas LTC.
This is a short list of the differences but the points that will matter most to most individuals. As you can see, there are major benefits to getting your License to Carry.
Get Your LTC
The crew here at Legion is dedicated to helping you develop your skills to the highest degree of mastery. If you are getting started carrying and using a pistol, we recommend either Pistol Skills I or Introduction to Pistol. Both of these classes will get you comfortable, safe, and capable. Further, you will be ready to ace the shooting portion of your LTC.
If you are in the Central Texas area, we HIGHLY recommend our partners at Central Texas Gun Works. The owner, Michael Cargill, is a staunch supporter and advocate of second amendment rights. He's keenly familiar with current law and active legislation related to being a person who carries responsibly.
They offer License to Carry classes weekly so it is easy to find a time that fits your schedule. Give them a call or just sign up using the link above. Tell them Legion sent you!
Learn More about the FCA
To learn more about the Firearm Carry Act of 2021, download this guide from US LawShield.
Ham radio, aka amateur radio, is the swiss army knife of communications tools. Your ability to communicate without fixed infrastructure using Ham radio is only limited by your present working knowledge and your ability to use your environment. We'll discuss what's involved in getting your ham license below.
3 Easy Steps
- Basic Requirements
- Have a valid US mailing address
- Have a valid SSN or FCC Registration Number
- Study for the test
- Take your exam ($12-$20)
- Wait a day to two weeks to be issued your callsign by FCC
Studying for the Test
There are many ways to study for the test, so the key here is to find the method that's most compatible with how you learn best. There are awesome YouTube channels, free E-Books, physical books, and online practice tests. We'll list some of those resources below.
- Ham Radio 2.0's Technician Class YouTube Guide
- KB6NU's No-Nonsense Study Guides
- HamStudy.org's Technician Class Study Guide and Practice Tests
- ARRL's Ham Radio License Manual
Again, the key here is to find the method that works best for you, or maybe it is a combination of all the above. Take the time to understand the material so you can be a more effective radio operator.
Take your Exam
Once you have studied up and are feeling confident about your ability to pass the exam, now it is time to take the exam and get licensed. There are two options here, in-person and online. At the time of this post being written, Covid has altered the availability of in-person exams. Hams banded together in light of this and created a robust online-testing system. So, you can study and get licensed from the comfort of your home now. That's pretty awesome.
- ARRL - Find an in-person exam in your area
- Hamstudy.org - Find an online session
Get your Call Sign
Assuming you took the test and passed, now all that is left to do is wait. It will take 24-72 hours for FCC to process your exam results and issue you a call sign. The process may take a bit longer if you take the exam in-person.
Once you have your call sign assigned to you, if you have an amateur radio, you can now begin broadcasting and communicating with others. You now have a sophisticated tool in your arsenal that can solve a wide range of communications challenges in almost any environment. Like anything, these tools require you to train with them, practice with others, and know what their limitations and strengths are. These are topics we cover in Portable Radios I.
Propagate and Profit
In closing, these are handy tools. Arguably they give you more capability than any other communication tool and in a lot of cases require no other infrastructure other than you and someone else with amateur radio, or just the ability to listen with a receiver. Which, it is important to note, you do not need to be licensed to listen - only to broadcast or communicate. This can be important in your communications planning.
Hope this was informative. We look forward to seeing you out.
So much of our lives revolve around being able to efficiently communicate with one another. Communication is key to the effective execution of plans. Natural disasters, cellular network failures, or just simple loss of internet connectivity can all impair your ability to effectively communicate.
Have a Comms Plan
Having a comms plan means you and those you'll need to communicate with know how to get in touch with each other. You should have your plan written down and readily available; keep one at home, in the car, and at work. The plan should consider the following:
- Who will you need to communicate with?
- What tools and methods will you use to communicate?
- When will you communicate?
- How often will you communicate?
This may seem straightforward, but it does require that you put thought into your planning. You'll need to make the tools in your plan accessible, and they need to also be methods you and your group have access to. For example, you can't be the only one with a handheld radio - that's not much use to anyone unless you rely on others as a part of your plan.
A book we recommend, Prepper's Communication Handbook, describes a simple system to use that helps you define how you will communicate in various situations. It is called the PACE system. Think of it as a simple protocol that will be followed to help you get information to the person you are trying to communicate with.
Let's imagine I am trying to message my girlfriend, and she works 20 minutes from the house. I have to leave the house with the pups because there was a housefire. I want to let her know that we are safe.
- Primary Method (P) - Text message. If she doesn't respond then...
- Alternate Method (A) - Phone call. If she doesn't answer then...
- Contingency Method (C) - Email her work and personal accounts.
- Emergency Method (E) - Call her parents and let them know where we are and what happened.
The PACE system helps you to define your order of operations. It also helps you think through who you want to communicate with and how you will communicate with them. These are the types of things you do not want to have to figure out during an emergency.
As with all plans, you need to practice communicating. You need to know the limitations of your tools. You need to have a backup in place, should your primary tools fail. You must also have shared your plan with those who are on your list of important contacts and practiced your plan with them.
In Portable Radios I, we talk about tools such as amateur radio and discuss in-depth how to craft your communication plan and what considerations you will need to make.
What should you put in your trauma kit? That is a question that we often hear from our students.
Keep your kit to a minimum. You don't want to sort through dozens of items in an emergency. The essential core items for your individual first aid kit (IFAK) should stay the same for mall runs, range work, or hunting expeditions. If you want to keep more than one, that's up to you. Most of us keep one in our everyday carry bag, one on our shooting rigs, and one in our vehicle.
Many online retailers offer an all-in-one kit filled with items ready for your use. That can work, but they can be pricey, and there are often extra items of marginal benefit thrown in there. It's easiest and most cost-effective to buy the items separately and stock the kit yourself. If purchasing components separately, you can also get things you are most comfortable or familiar with. It's helpful when restocking to use the same brands, so your familiarity with them remains the same.
Are you looking for training in how and when to use these items? Using all this gear is covered in our Trauma Management I class. We also offer a short course called Trauma Essentials covering tourniquet application, wound packing, and using a chest seal.
The two IFAK pouches that are our personal preferences right now are:
- 1-2x Tourniquets
- 2x Wound packing gauze or 2x Quikclot hemostatic gauze
- 1-2x Hyfin Chest Seals
- 1-2x ETD Emergency Trauma Dressing (Israeli also works)
- 1x Nitrile gloves
- 1x Trauma shears
- 2x Triangular Bandage
- 1x Sharpie
- Band-aids and antibiotic ointment
- 1x Survival blanket
- 1x Sam Splint
- Standard Sick Call Meds
- Basic Medications pack
- Liquid IV (Electrolyte supplement)
Backcountry navigation is becoming a lost art
The ability to read a map and use a compass to navigate through the wilderness is a skill that very few in modern times possess.
Wilderness areas are seeing more and more use as time goes on, and people's interest in the outdoors increases. With this increased use, we often see an improved infrastructure that has trails that are better maintained and clear and concise signage that includes trail names, numbers, and distances to certain locations.
This Improved infrastructure, along with the GPS software now available for smartphones has made getting lost quite difficult.
Difficult, but not impossible.
There are a handful of tools that you need before embarking on an adventure in wilderness settings. These tools, as well as how to use them, will keep you on track and see that you make it back safely from your next adventure.
If there is one thing you should always have in the backcountry it’s a topographic map. Topographic maps have a few distinct features that regular (planimetric) maps do not.
- Vegetation: Through the use of colors topographic maps show where meadows are as well as large stands of timber.
- Elevation: Through the use of contour lines topographic maps show elevation which gives the user a three-dimensional perspective of the ground they are traveling over. These lines also create shapes and patterns which identify specific terrain features.
- Location: Many topographic maps have a grid system overlaid on top of the map. This grid system allows the user to quickly identify their location and the location of other objects/people.
There are various types of topographic maps available. For higher use recreational areas we suggest checking out the options from National Geographic.
If your adventure is in a more austere area we suggest building a custom map through mytopo.com.
Although there are natural ways to determine the basic cardinal directions, a compass is required to navigate effectively in the backcountry.
Now the kind of compass on a keychain, or those found in a box of Cracker Jacks, will simply not suffice. For general backcountry use, we suggest one with declination adjustment from either Suunto or Brunton.
One of the easiest and most useful tools for backcountry navigation is now tied to a piece of technology that we all already own: a smartphone.
Smartphones have built in GPS capabilities that are able to function even without a cellular signal. The user can download not only topographic maps, but satellite imagery and a host of other types.
These applications sync to the user’s online account where waypoints, routes, and tracks can all be stored.
Although smartphones are probably the best navigation tool they have one major problem: they run on batteries. GPS devices and smartphones are the fastest and easiest tool for backcountry navigation but they are also the most problematic. Always carry a paper map and compass as backup.
Our favorite navigation software is GAIAGPS.com.
A watch is typically part of everyone’s backcountry gear list. Some companies such as Garmin and Suunto make watches that also have GPS capabilities.
Although many of these watches offer advanced navigation features similar to what some of the mapping software out there have, their ease of use doesn’t hold a candle to what a smartphone is capable of.
A watch with GPS capabilities has two distinct features that make it worth having:
- It allows you to pull a location grid.
- It allows you to mark locations then navigate back to them.
So although not necessary, having a watch that will give you a grid and save a location is a great backup to your smartphone technology. Additionally, many watches with GPS technology also have fitness features that you’ll use daily at home.
- Treat all guns as if they are always loaded.
- Never point the muzzle at anything that you are not willing to destroy or buy!
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to shoot.
- Verify your target is the correct target and know what's beyond it.
While these rules of firearms safety are important, they are far more than words we want to memorize so it is important to discuss why they exist.
Treat all guns as if they are always loaded
What we mean here is that you never want to unconsciously handle a firearm without knowing whether or not it is loaded. For example, if someone hands you a firearm or a significant other leaves one out, you must verify for yourself whether it is loaded or not. Until you do that, we have to assume there is something in the chamber. Following this rule, the only ''safe'' firearm is one that you have personally verified to be unloaded.
Never point the muzzle at anything that you are not willing to destroy or buy!
Assume there is a laser beam coming out of the muzzle. Anything that beam of light touches could be injured, destroyed, or otherwise hurt. Would that be acceptable to you?
This could be property like a vehicle, an animal on a ranch, or another person. This requires that we be aware at all times of where the gun is pointing. If you need to turn to talk to someone and can maintain a safe muzzle direction, great! If that is something that needs practice, then whenever you are not actively aware and thinking about the muzzle's direction, put the firearm down or holster it.
Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to shoot.
The truth of the matter is guns do not go off on their own. Sure some firearms can have mechanical failures, but the fact is, nearly all rounds being fired are the result of a conscious decision or negligent discharge. Negligent discharge meaning unintentional firing - before you were ready or expected to.
Until the sighting system of the firearm is oriented on or over what your eyes are looking at - what you have determined you are going to shoot - your finger should be off of the trigger and above the trigger guard. Not on the trigger but resting on the trigger guard can just as easily result in a negligent discharge.
To explain, think about the last time you were startled or lost your balance. Maybe you clenched your hands? That would be a natural response that many have. Now imagine your finger was resting on the trigger guard when that happens. Negligent discharge waiting to happen. So, keep that finger clear of the trigger guard and off the trigger until you have decided to shoot.
Verify your target is the correct target and know what's beyond it.
When a bullet leaves the barrel of a firearm it is traveling at exceptional speed. This speed means that round can travel for rather incredible distances at the right angle. Even the lowly 22LR can reach distances of a mile and further as extreme long-range shooters have demonstrated. As a result, understand what is behind your target and make sure the round will be stopped by something like a dirt or sand berm.
Following that, realize that rounds travel through things. They penetrate through paper, walls, thin metal like vehicle doors, and other barriers. Understand how to assess whether the direction you are firing is safe for you and others. Advanced coursework and competition can assist you in becoming better at this type of assessment.