If you're undertaking the journey to become a heat-packing woman, you absolutely must consider your individual mindset. Here are the things that I always keep in mind:
1. Train with consistency in mind.
I mention this elsewhere. You need to get sufficient training to feel like confident with firearm and to instinctively develop the muscle memory to use it when you need to. Take a class at your local range and then make it a habit (especially at first) to go back every few weeks. My local range has a Ladies Night on Mondays when it's free for me to shoot, and I take advantage of this often. After you're comfortable, make it a habit to go back every few months. Take a friend with you every time if you like. You'll solidify your own knowledge every time you teach someone else the fundamentals of shooting. Each session should look something like: Safety review. Loading, firing, marksmanship practice. Safety roundup (making sure the gun is empty) and cleaning.
1.1: Train like you're under stress.
When I was in the Middle East we did a little drill that I've repeated dozens of times. First, we were all highly qualified Expert marksmen very comfortable with our weapons. We would do a little target practice, and then we'd go for a one mile fast run. Ending our run back at the range we then needed to fire accurately and safely with the blood pumping through our bodies and brains. This is an awesome training event because the elevated heart rate mimics the panic and adrenaline that one feels when actually threatened. I highly recommend this drill AFTER you've become comfortable with your firearm. You'll be amazed at how much harder it is to hit your target. This is a good thing, because you need to practice when it's not easy.
2. Plan ahead for different scenarios.
Guns don't kill people, but people with guns can kill people more easily than people with knives or a bad attitude. If you carry, you'll need to be just as careful to avoid confrontation as you've always been. In fact, because you've got a way to defend yourself, you can be even more discreet and easy-going than ever. This means no road rage. No arguing with neighbors. Continue to avoid the ATM at night. With the right mindset it actually gets easier to relax because you know you've got it covered. What if you live alone or your husband travels often? What about that late night knock on the door? It's a simple step to grab your pistol or revolver and stick it in your pocket or bath robe on the way to the door. I've done this many times, and I'm always glad I took the extra moment to be prepared. Always remember the places you can't take your gun. Police stations, schools, likely the offices such as DMV in your state, and military installations are all places where you could get arrested if found with a handgun. So plan ahead!
3. Choose a gun with consistency in mind.
Make sure you don't buy a gun that's too large. Anything in .380/9mm for a pistol or .38 Special/.357 Magnum for a revolver will do the trick. You should be able to find one that's not so heavy you'll leave it at home. Your gun is useless at home if someone tries to rob you in the grocery store parking lot. Note: .22 or .25 caliber is probably a little too small to stop a full grown man, especially on that's drunk, high, or desperate. You can find dozens of great articles all over the internet discussing caliber, or you can just take my work for it. 🙂 So when your gun's not too heavy you're more likely to carry it consistently.
4. Try a few concealed carry positions with consistency in mind.
Choose a holster or concealed carry purse that you like. The most common holster is placed inside the waistband wherever around your body you prefer. This is what I normally use, and I prefer to place it just forward of my right hip bone. You can easily find pocket holsters, bra holsters, shoulder holsters, ankle holsters. You name it. Just make sure that you like it. Also, if you buy one holster and decide it's too bulky or cumbersome, try another one or another location on your body. Remember, the best gun for you is the one you'll carry every day. How you carry it has a big influence on whether or not you'll carry it.
Many women just carry their firearm in their purse. There are many styles of purse made just for this, or perhaps you carry a purse with a decent sized zippered pocket on the inside. This is probably a great way to go because you'll likely be more consistent carrying if you're not weighted down. Safety Note: If you have a gun in your purse you absolutely can't let it out of your sight. Be especially mindful of any place you may encounter children.