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The growing business of carrying concealed weapons

gunA new cottage industry is expanding in Mississippi. Believe it or not certified trainers and training courses for this new phenomenon are popping up all over the Metro area and indeed statewide. It’s not sales training, or a pyramid marketing scheme for a new seaweed energy drink or life insurance sales. Well, come to think of it, maybe it could be classified as life insurance sales. Depends on how one looks at it I guess.

These newly evolving occurrences are the number of courses popping up to teach a variety of basic handgun shooting skills. Course titles include such skills courses as Basics of Pistol Shooting, Personal Protection in the Home and Personal Protection Outside the Home.

Why some might ask would you want to take such a course? Well, anyone wanting more information and actual skills training on the safe handling and shooting of a handgun (pistol or revolver) should be interested in such training. Secondary to that some individuals either wanting to secure a state individual firearms permit or the enhanced carry endorsement would want these classes.



In Mississippi it is legal to purchase, possess and carry on one’s person in a concealed manner a handgun being a pistol or revolver, if, and that is a big IF, one goes through the proper legal channels to obtain a firearm and the carry permit as prescribed by Mississippi law.

The basic individual firearms permit can be obtained from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety by completing an application, being fingerprinted pursuant to an FBI background check and paying the appropriate fees, which are currently $132. The Department has 45 days to approve or deny the permit.

Obtaining this permit does not require any individual to participate in a training course of any kind, though I personally strongly recommend it. Obviously the permit holder has to comply with ALL of the provisions of the permit law. It is not an open permit to carry a concealed gun anywhere one wants. There are many restrictions.

Additional information on this permit can be found on the Department of Public Safety’s website at www.dps.state.ms.us. Questions can be directed to (601) 987-1547.

Furthermore, all of these hands-on training courses could lead to obtaining the state’s legal enhanced carry stamp on an existing individual firearms permit. This endorsement broadens the categories of legal carry, but there are still restrictions to follow. To obtain the enhanced carry stamp, the successful completion of an appropriate and approved training course is required.


Course of Action

Back in July of last year I signed up and participated in a Personal Protection in the Home course. The class was provided by NRA-certified trainer, Chad Winkler of SafeFire Shooting and Firearms Training. Check out his website at www.safefireshooting.com. All of his class offerings and schedules are listed on his website.

This time the course was held in the conference room at the local Bass Pro Shop in Pearl and the live action shooting portion took place at a private range in Florence. There were 11 folks participating in the training that day.

The classroom regimen was straight forward lecture, discussion and following a power point presentation of a standard NRA safe shooting skills curriculum. The course was supplemented with a couple of video presentations, as well, which greatly helped participants understand the basic concepts of safe handgun handling and carry.

The entire course follows the official NRA instructional book that is provided as part of the course fee. Chad also provided some additional handouts and other information including an application for the National Rifle Association.

Winkler is a good instructor with a lighthearted personality if not business-oriented approach to the instructional environment. We had a mixed-sex class with two ladies joining the group. I was happy to see this mix as with my hunter education courses that I teach,; having a female presence helps balance out the macho types. Women shooters also tend to ask more questions, stimulate more open discussion and commentary.

The classroom portion of the course lasted about five hours with a lunch break in which Safe Fire brought in barbecue from Sonny’s. Of course, we had a couple other breaks giving the opportunity to walk around the Bass Pro showroom, which provided a nice diversion.

The formal course section ended with passing out a paper-and-pencil test for participants to self-assess themselves. I passed the test but had no time to prepare. It was just part of the learning experience anyway. I do recommend reading the course book later.


Course of Fire

After wrapping up the classroom work, we were given directions to drive to a private hunting club south of Florence off U.S. Highway 49. We all gathered at the grocery store in downtown Florence, and then followed Chad to the private shooting course.

The course of fire consisted of three different rounds of shooting. The first was a mandatory 30-round course qualifying test at personal protection ranges of 9-15-21 feet. The target ranges seemed short at first, but it was set up this way to simulate typical ranges that an individual might encounter an intruder inside the home.

We were also required to shoot one portion of the test off-hand unsupported or left-handed in my case. That was a first for me, but it was easier than I imagined. When the scoring was compiled for the 30-shots I only missed the high point 10-ring twice and those holes were in the 9-ring. I was shooting a Beretta 92FS in 9mm.

The next live fire session was called “Scanning-Flash Sight” for 20 rounds. The final course of 30-rounds included using cover, loading and shooting while stooping behind a table and issuing “intruder” stop commands and then moving to shooting from behind a barrier from both the left and right hand sides standing and kneeling.

Chad and his two range assistants were right there to coach and help us all perform on the course of fire. Safety was paramount. Everyone passed the course. I have to brag I guess by saying I shot the class high score with a 99 percent for the 80-round course. The toughest part was working through the 104 degree temperature that afternoon, but Chad supplied plenty of water and a shade cover.

Undoubtedly people are concerned these days about personal protection and safety for the family both inside and outside the home. Just buying a gun is not the solution without proper training. In this case Chad Winkler’s Safe Fire Shooting business is fulfilling a demand for a needed service, which is what entrepreneurship is all about.

About John Woods

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