In order to get a carry permit in the state of TN (remember, all states are different) you have to take a class with an approved instructor. Tennessee has two types of permits - the ENHANCED Carry Permit and the Concealed Carry Permit. The Enhanced Permit requires and in person class and shooting qualification and allows you to either open or concealed carry. The Concealed Carry Permit only requires an online class and there is no shooting component, and you are only legally able to carry concealed.
I personally think the Enhanced Carry Permit is the way to go (I won't go into the details of this here; but, feel free to ask) and will be the topic of this conversation moving forward. I mentioned that you will have to "qualify." What does this mean? It means you have to shoot at a target and successfully meet the benchmark.
You DO NOT get to practice before shooting to qualify and for many people, the qualification shoot is the first time they have ever shot. For this reason, it’s important to have at least fired a gun, know how to load your ammunition, and how to aim before taking your class. Note: you do NOT have to own a firearm to take a class or have a permit.
Firing a gun for the first time can be the scariest step; but once you’ve done it, the hard part is past. To get started, here's what I recommend:
1) Go to a range and use a rented firearm or bring your own if you have one. If you do this, I recommend having someone with you that is experienced with guns and can teach you basic safety, how to load, aim, etc and range etiquette. While there will be a Range Safety Office that can help get you started, you're going to feel much more comfortable with someone focusing their attention on you and making sure you are equipped to shoot successfully.
During the age of COVID, on top of riots this year and it being an election year, we're seeing one of the largest ammunition shortages in decades. I mention this because it would be a shame to show up at the range and find out they don't have any ammo for you. Call ahead and ask about ammo availability and if they are renting guns right now.
2) Take a basic firearms instructional course. There are many ranges that offer these as well as the Basics of Pistol Shooting class offered by the NRA - which is a GREAT class. Please note that an instructional course is not the same as a permit class! SOME instructional classes will require you to provide your own handgun and ammo, others will have guns for you to use, though more often than not, you'll need to supply your own ammo as well.
Once you have at least one time of shooting under your belt, the Handgun Permit Qualification test won't be as intimidating. You'll probably still be nervous; but at least you'll know a little more of what to expect when you pull the trigger.
What questions do you have?!!