Mastering the Arkansas Enhanced CHCL Qualification

Mastering the Arkansas Enhanced CHCL Qualification

There are two levels of Arkansas Concealed Handgun Carry Licenses, as they are called in Arkansas. The basic license doesn’t have much of a proficiency requirement. The student just has to show that they are safe with a firearm, not really any actual proficiency. For the enhanced license, there is an actual qualification standard. It is still fairly basic, and given any decent skill level, it should be an easy standard to meet.

The Nitty-Gritty

This happens to be exactly the same as the Texas License to Carry qualification with the exception of the scoring. I guess they didn’t want to get too creative in Arkansas. Twenty percent of shots are at the 15-yard line, 40% are at 7 yards, and the remaining 40% are at 3 yards. Anything inside the 7 ring gets scored as a hit, and 35 hits are required to pass (70%). If you do the quick math, you will realize that technically every 15-yard shot can be missed and still pass. That is not what we are going for though, right? Hardly a high standard in the world of standards (see Lucky Gunner shoot the Texas version of the qualification blindfolded).

That is not all bad, though. It means that people should be able to use whatever firearm they plan to actually carry to shoot the qualification. Carry a Ruger LCP or other micro gun, well that is what you should shoot the qualification with.

The Course of Fire

The most difficult strings of far are definitely the 15-yard strings of fire. While someone with a sound foundation of training and skill should be able to get these hits without issue, that isn’t everyone. I would consider this standard to be incredibly easy, but plenty of people, in fact, most people, probably don’t. So here is how you practice, without firing a round.

Passing this qualification is all about an application of fundamental skills under very mild time stress. There are not any reloads on the clock, and the qualification is shot from a low ready position. That means no holster work. It is strictly a sights and trigger qualification. There are four things that a person can work on to make sure they can pass the qualification, managing the sights, managing the trigger, gripping the handgun, and stance. Nail those four things, and this qualification will be a piece of cake. Most of that stuff can be practiced in dry practice, without firing a round.

Practicing Fundamentals

Stance is pretty simple, at least for this application. Place your feet about shoulder-width apart, or a little more. I typically go a little more. Hips and shoulders should stay square to the target, but the dominant side foot can be slightly back from the other. Maybe a couple of inches, but not a huge amount.

The grip is also pretty straightforward. We want both hands as high on the gun as possible without interfering with the function of the gun. The trigger finger should stay off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until time to start shooting. The thumbs should basically point forward, and the support hand wrist should cam forward, and the thumbs lay on top of each other. That is the ideal anyway. Size of the gun, size of the person holding gun, and individual range of movement issues can necessitate some adjustments. The good thing is, since the qualification is shot from the low ready, we can get our grip set before the timer starts.

The sights are also pretty straightforward. There should be equal height between the front and rear sight and equal light between the outside edges of the front sight post and the inside edges of the rear sight notch. Here is the dirty little secret about sight alignment though. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Especially true for the accuracy standard on this course of fire. There are over 300 square inches of target space we have to work with. Don’t freak out if the alignment isn’t perfect. It really doesn’t have to be for this.

The Tricky Part

Pressing the trigger and associated anticipation is where most people struggle. Not so much because pressing the trigger well is all that difficult, but more because people understand that when they press the trigger this explosion happens out in front of them and there is a tendency to anticipate and flinch, pushing the gun off target. Even at close ranges, this can affect our shooting enough to cause us to miss a fairly large target. This is more of a mental hurdle than a physical skill hurdle. The hope is that with enough dry practice, where we remove the explosion and subsequent recoil, we can teach our brain not to anticipate the explosion and flinch.

Practicing for Free

To get ready for shooting the Arkansas Enhanced CHCL qualification (or TX LTC qualification), would be to practice all four things in dry practice. You can use the scaled 10-8 Performance dry fire target to get an idea of target size. The circles are scaled to represent 8” circles at the specified distances. Eight inches is much more accurate than what the qualification calls for, but it is the better standard to work towards.

After ensuring an unloaded gun, removing all live ammunition from the training area, set your dry fire target up with a safe backstop. We should not be shooting any bullets, but humans are fallible, so just in case. Start by just presenting the gun to the target from low ready and pressing the trigger smoothly to the rear. As the shot breaks, pay special attention to the front sight. It will tell us how well we did. If it moves just as the shot breaks, then we need to try and smooth things up a bit more. A good grip on the gun will also help keep everything where it needs to be, even if our trigger press is a little less than perfect.

Once we have that down, without time pressure, the next step is to add a little time pressure. Start with whatever feels like a comfortable pace, and then work down to the par times for the strings of fire in the qualification. Since most guns will only allow a single trigger press since the slide isn’t moving, figure out the per shot allowance, and work towards that as a goal. If that is too easy, continue to work the time down. For example, at 15 yards each shot is allowed 3 seconds. So that should be the goal when working on the 15-yard circle.

Good luck. Hopefully this will keep you busy while we are all social distancing and most ranges are closed down. If you do manage to get on the range sometime, confirm what you have been working on in dry practice and see how well it translates to live fire.

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