The USCCA Story

If you’re like me, you believe that self-defense is a natural-born right.

This website is for people like us, people who are willing to carry a concealed weapon to protect their loved ones

Now, get ready for some goosebumps, a little disbelief, and a whole lot of good-old-fashioned, American pride!

Sincerely,

Tim Schmidt

Tim Schmidt
President & Founder, USCCA

The Schmidt Family

There Are Two Kinds of People…Which One Are You?

You know, there are really two kinds of people in this world. The first kind is the person that is always looking to someone else to take care of them.

You know what I’m talking about. Nowadays, it’s all we hear on the news. These people want the government to provide from them and they want the police to protect them and provide their safety. (Some call these people sheep or sheeple!)

And then there’s the OTHER kind of person, the person that truly believes in personal responsibility.

I can remember a saying that my Dad told me over and over as I grew up. He’d say, “Tim, you must always remember…If it is to be it’s up to me.”

As a kid in their early teenage years I can remember thinking to myself, “Yeah Dad, I got it. You’ve told me this a thousand times.”

But you know what? That phrase, along with a whole bunch of other brilliant wisdom from my Dad, had a huge impact on me.

Now if you’re still reading this, then I’ll bet you can relate to this concept of personal responsibility. Heck, you and I probably have a lot more in common. Yep, my Dad did an amazing job instilling in me that there is only ONE person responsible for my, happiness, safety and security.

And that one person was…ME!

My personal responsibility education helped lead to the second biggest frustration in my life.

Would This Frustrate You?

It started shortly after my first child was born.

You know, everyone has certain defining moments in their lives. Times when normal, everyday events end up having a lifelong impact. I’ll never forget those first couple of days after my first son was born. My mind was flooded with all kinds of new thoughts and feelings.

There were feelings of joy, amazement and wonder. Feelings of gratitude and responsibility…AND feelings of fear and frustration.

What was I afraid of? I was completely overwhelmed with the idea that I was now responsible in EVERY WAY for this new little life. Not only did I need to provide for my new son, it was also my duty to PROTECT him (and my wife) from the evil that will always exist in our world.

I never seemed to be able to find a gun review that wasn’t sponsored by the gun maker!

It hit me like a ton of bricks!

You know, I think every one has their own, self-defense “revelation” experience. For some, it’s a friend who was attacked or mugged. For some, it’s a robbery or break-in.

And for others, it’s the survival of a horrific experience that opened their eyes to the need to be able to defend themselves.

You see, I got off easy.

For some reason, my internal personal defense switch was tripped by the simple circumstance of becoming a new father.

I can only hope you’ll be as lucky as I was!

I found myself becoming very protective, thinking a lot about what I would do in different situations.

I started learning about self-defense. I started buying books, magazines and whatever I could get my hands on.

I started buying books about guns!

Growing up with my Dad, we never went hunting cause Dad wasn’t a hunter. But…he DID like guns and there were always guns in our house. (I still remember the first time Dad let me shoot his Smith & Wesson 5″ .357 Magnum revolver!) So my desire to start learning about guns and how I could use them to protect my family was a natural thing to do!

And that’s when it happened.

I read an article that would change my life. The article was entitled “The Constitutional Right and Social Obligation to Carry a Gun.” The article was by a guy named Robert Boatman. (Mr. Boatman has since passed away, but I DID have a chance to meet him face to face and tell him how much of an impact he had on me and my family!)

I couldn’t find a resource or magazine that focused 100% on concealed carry.

This article opened my eyes to the idea of carrying a gun with me wherever I went. It made perfect sense to me and I was astonished how Mr. Boatman presented it as a social obligation.

I was hooked. I needed to learn exactly how to do this as fast as possible.

And that’s when I ran into a few roadblocks.

You see, I couldn’t find a resource or magazine that focused 100% on concealed carry. Sure there were tons of gun magazines and lots of articles, forums and websites that talked about concealed carry.

But all these resources seemed to just talk about the guns and the holster. There was almost no information about the people who carried. I could find nothing about WHY people carried, HOW they carried and what had happened in their life to make them decide to be an armed citizen.

PLUS, I never seemed to be able to find a gun review that wasn’t sponsored by the gun maker! (I mean really, have you EVER read a review about a gun that said didn’t say anything but positive stuff?)

And finally, one of the things I can distinctly remember shortly after I decided to protect my family by carrying a concealed weapon was how ALONE I felt.

Surely there had to be other people like me out there.

And this got me to thinking…

It Just Doesn’t Make Sense!

“Why doesn’t everyone think the same way that I do about self-defense?” I mean, what the heck is wrong with a man or woman who’s not willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to protect their loved ones? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

And then it dawned on me. I wasn’t born thinking like this. There was a process. For whatever reason, a bunch of events happened in my life that opened my eyes to the importance (the DUTY) of being an armed citizen.

And if that happened to ME…well, then maybe I could help other people go through that same process.

What if there was a resource dedicated SOLEY to the people who carry concealed? What if there was a 100% independent, member-driven resource to support armed Americans?

There would be no advertisers, no sponsors, no fluff and no B.S. You know, kind of like “Consumer Reports” but for concealed carry.

As it turns out, all of these events lead up to a “Perfect Storm” in my life.

Can You Imagine This ‘Perfect Storm’?

This is how the ‘Perfect Storm’ began.

At the same time I was going through my personal self-defense awakening, my engineering business was at a similar crossroads. I had started Schmidt Engineering in 1997. (Yeah, I know, the name wasn’t all that original…but it worked for me!)

It was a small mechanical engineering consulting firm and it was the first business I ever started. It was a wonderful business that supported my family and the families of my five employees.

But…something was missing.

I knew in my heart that Schmidt Engineering (SEI) was not my true calling. I knew there was something else I was supposed to do. Yeah, I realize this may sound a little touchy-feely…but, it’s just the way it was.

Heck, I was ALWAYS looking for new business opportunities. During the first five years of starting and running Schmidt Engineering I considered starting a Security products business and a garage storage system company. I even tried to start a business manufacturing coffee roasters!

So what happened next was completely natural.

As I went through my concealed carry education process, I couldn’t help but think, “How could turn this into a business that could help other people like me?”

I thought to myself, “There MUST be thousands of people out there like me.”

Thousands of people searching for other fellow armed citizens. Thousands of people looking for insight, perspective and answers. Thousands of people out there wondering, “Am I the only person that feels the need to carry a gun to protect my family and loved ones…or even myself?”

Wow, Talk About Intimidating…

“I know! I’ll start a magazine.”

Yep, that’s what I said to myself. Little did I know that starting a magazine from scratch is about one of the toughest (and least profitable) businesses to make work.

(It was actually GOOD that I didn’t know that little fact! More on this later.)

So like the good engineer that I was, I bought three books about how to start a magazine. I got about half way through the first book and had to put it down. Why? Because it was depressing the heck out of me.

The book went on to explain that very few new magazines survive past the first year. It also went on to say that I needed to have an entire year’s worth of magazine content done before I even started!

I can remember talking to my wife about this idea. By this time, she was pregnant again and we were in the process of starting to build a new house. The timing just wasn’t right. I put my dream on the back burner.

But my idea would just not go away.

One of the smartest things I ever did was to put down that book and never pick it up again. I am convinced that if I had continued to read that book, I NEVER would have started my magazine and subsequent association.

The Birth of Something That Nearly Took Me Out

And so it came to be.

In the fall of 2003, I began to work on the very first issue of Concealed Carry Magazine. I worked every single night on that issue. Sometimes till 1 or 2 in the morning. I managed to find a bunch of contributors and I even taught myself how to use magazine layout software.

It took me about three and a half months to create that first issue!

I put all the equity in my house on the line and had 30,000 copies of that magazine printed. I then mailed these out to a list I rented from a list broker.

Next, I crossed my fingers and prayed that I would get a bunch of subscribers.

And then all hell broke lose.

Fastest Way to a Million Bucks…

Do you know the fastest way to get to a million bucks?

Easy. Start with two million and then build a magazine from scratch!

Well, I can laugh about that now, but at the time, the reality of this statement was all too true. Sure, I had started a new magazine and had even managed to get a few subscribers with that first mailing.

But what I had REALLY done was create an instant Frankenstein. I now had almost a thousand subscribers who were expecting another magazine in six weeks, absolutely no staff and very little money!

Lucky for me, I still had my engineering business that was making money.

Oh, and I also clung to an attitude that I could NOT fail. There was just no way this thing wasn’t going to work. No way.

I hired an editor and layout person and we got to work. Hundreds of people called, emailed and phoned saying they wanted to write for us!

We got the first few issues out and our customers were ecstatic. They simply LOVED Concealed Carry Magazine. It was very exciting.

But…things are not always as they seem.

It took my new magazine about 9 months to burn through $115,000. That’s right, we lost well over $115,000 in less than a year.

This was where my complete lack of publishing experience was starting to be a bit of a problem.

I felt like a rat in a cage.

I couldn’t get advertisers because I didn’t have many subscribers. I couldn’t get subscribers because I was competing directly against other gun magazines. I needed to figure out a way to raise more money, position myself differently or preferably BOTH!

Here’s When I Hit Rock Bottom

I can still remember when I hit rock bottom.

I was sitting on the steps of our new house (whose equity was 100% on the line!) and my feet were resting on the gravel because we couldn’t afford to put in a driveway.

It was about 12:30 am and my wife and children were asleep.

I was scared.

I didn’t know what to do.

I had tried almost everything. Heck, I had even tried soliciting cash from a group of 80 “angel investors” in my hometown. I had spent almost a week putting together a powerful investment package. Needless to say I was CRUSHED when fifty-six of the investors completely ignored me and twenty-three of them politely refused my offer.

Yep…just ONE responder said they’d be willing to invest in my idea. Just one. And that person was my Dad.

Now, in addition to getting our amazing print magazine, our customers had access to our members-only forum, complete back-issue archive…

You know, it’s funny how life works sometimes. It meant so much to me that my Dad was willing to invest in my business idea. Yet, since he was the only investor, I ended up not taking any money from anyone. But the vote of confidence from my Dad was EXACTLY what I needed.

I got up from sitting on the steps and went to bed. I just KNEW something would present itself. I just KNEW there was a solution out there.

And finally the solution came.

I had to figure out a way to offer MORE value to my customers. Sending them a magazine 8 times per year was just NOT going to be enough.

And this was when I started the USCCA – The United States Concealed Carry Association. I was no longer in the magazine business. I was in the business of connecting like minded, armed Americans!

Now there’s quite a bit more to the story than just changing the focus from Concealed Carry Magazine to the USCCA, but this one little change DID have an amazing effect.

In less than six months the operation turned the corner and our customers were happier than ever!

Now, in addition to getting our amazing print magazine, our customers had access to our members-only forum, complete back-issue archive, we put all our articles in the members-only section of our website, we offered special members pricing and all sorts of other kinds of benefits.

My prayers had been answered. Concealed Carry Magazine and the United States Concealed Carry Association were going to survive!

Which brings me to a story that I would have NEVER believed just a few years earlier.

I found myself standing on a stage in front of over three thousand people…I was petrified.

I Can’t Believe I’m Standing Here.

My knees were shaking, my voice was trembling and my throat was dry.

I looked across the crowd of over three thousand of my fellow Americans. Just behind all these people, the Washington Monument rose high into the sunny, Spring sky.

You see, it was April 19th, 2010.

Patriot’s Day.

And I was standing on the stage as one of the speakers at the Second Amendment March in Washington D.C. Heck, the USCCA was the number one sponsor for the event!

It was hard for me to believe that the USCCA had gone from being an idea that had nearly bankrupted me to a national organization with tens of thousands of members in less than five years.

It was humbling that day to walk around and meet some of the other Second Amendment March attendees. The crazy part was that most of these people knew who I was and treated me as if I were there brother or son.

I had never intended for all of this to happen.

But I am so thankful it did.

From Shy Engineer To Reluctant Leader… To Proud President of the USCCA.

You know it wasn’t all that long ago when I sat alone at my engineering desk and happily worked on my computer for hours on end.

And then I was thrust into a position of reluctant leadership. I was reluctant only because I had never been in this position.

But now I am so proud to be the president and founder of the USCCA.

The USCCA has become so much more than I had ever envisioned. Here are just a few exciting milestones that have recently occurred:

We now have members in every state of the union.

We own a nationally syndicated radio program called Armed American Radio. (Which happens to be in 36 cities across the country!)

We own and operate the largest, 100% private, members-only, concealed carry forum on the web. (There are currently over 280,908 posts about concealed carry topics for member access!)

We doubled in size last year and are on track to double again this year!

We are in the middle of our 7th year of publishing Concealed Carry Magazine.

As of July 2010, the USCCA has gone 100% completely advertiser free! Our members enjoy completely unbiased gun, gear and course reviews.

And your membership benefits just keep getting better and better. Check these out…

  • Subscription to Concealed Carry Magazine.
  • Defensive shooting flash card. (This is a handy reference card so you know EXACTLY what to do if you are involved in a self-defense shooting.)
  • The Best of Concealed Carry Magazine – Volume 01: CD-ROM
  • Members-Only Access to the USCCA Forum.
  • Instant, PDF download access to every back issue of Concealed Carry Magazine.
  • Members-Only Access to the USCCA Concealed Carry Library (This contains 36 case studies, 27 How-To’s, 421+ Articles, 237 Product & Course Reviews, 46 Interviews and a whole bunch more.
  • 20% to 50% discount on all of our Courses, Guides and Reports.

You see, the USCCA truly is, “The Nation’s Ultimate Concealed Carry Resource”.

But don’t take my word for it, just check out what a few fellow members have said about their investment with the USCCA.

“The endless resources for the armed citizen are second to none! Whether it is a holster, a flashlight or tactics, USCCA explains it like no other.”

“The one thing I value most from USCCA membership is the “member’s area” on the website. It goes above and beyond the “public area” in gear, tactics and all other articles or explanations.”

“I have been a member for about a year now and always look forward to not only the newsletter and magazine but also knowing I have the forums and library for easy to use resources.”

“It is more than just a magazine subscription, it’s a learning tool, it’s a valuable resource that I’ve needed. I can honestly say that what I’ve received in knowledge, understanding, and peace of mind is worth much more than the asking price.”

A Mission Worth Fighting For…

And now for something REALLY exciting.

We’re on a mission, and I need YOUR help to make it happen.

My mission is to:

  • Teach One Million People.
  • Equip 250,000 Members.
  • Stop 5,000 Crimes.

and Save 250 Lives.

With your help, I am going to get this done by December 31st, 2011. All I ask that you do is personally recommend the USCCA to your friends, family and relatives. You don’t have to ask them to send us any money or join our association.

If you believe in what we’re doing, I simply ask that you spread the word.

Take care and stay safe,

-Tim