On Line Concealed Carry Courses – An Honest Perspective

Let’s take a moment and discuss the various on line offers for concealed carry training that are available in the Triangle. Without getting into the whole “shall not be infringed” argument that often taints the discussion about concealed carry, let’s talk about what these courses actually deliver to their students.

In terms of real world training an on line course offers nothing. These courses will have a student watch a simplistic video about handgun safety, take a test that amounts to 20 different ways to ask “which end do the bullets come out,” and then the student earns a certificate that allows them to apply for a “non-resident, concealed carry permit” from a state other than North Carolina.

Because the North Carolina legislature made a mistake when it passed a law that recognized ALL concealed carry permits from all 50 states, it included these non-resident permits. What this means is that a North Carolina resident can get a non-resident, concealed carry permit from say Oregon, Utah or Virginia and can then legally carry a concealed handgun in North Carolina.

The problem is that these students will not have met any of the requirements established for North Carolina residents to carry a concealed handgun. They will not know the law pertaining to concealed carry and the use of deadly force. They will not have fired a single shot to qualify with a handgun.  Knowledge of the law and proficiency with a handgun – the very foundation of concealed carry, and more importantly the keystone for responsible gun ownership – has been completely bypassed.

Cynics who read this will say that because we are instructors with a training company we only want people to take our class so we can make money. We answer that by saying yes we run a business. But we also recognize that because someone has the “right” to do something, they may not have the ability, maturity, skill and knowledge to do so in a complex society like the one in which we all live.

We all know people we wouldn’t loan our power tools to right? Why would we want those same people to carry a handgun without some demonstrated ability to handle it in a safe and responsible way? We have all been to a range and seen shooters whose behavior and safety procedures leave us all more than a little nervous. If you have any doubts about how stupid and dangerous “law abiding citizens” can be with a firearm, just watch You Tube for a little while and you’ll see why there must be standards for citizens carry a concealed firearm.

And here’s the kicker folks, if we as responsible members of the firearms community do not set those standards, someone will do it for us and we will not like the outcome. As instructors we fear that someone who takes this short cut to concealed carry will use their firearm when they are not justified and kill someone.

At that point everyone who has a concealed carry permit and earned it by taking the instruction that delivers on all the state mandated requirements, will be painted with the same broad brush. We will all be labeled as “Gun Nuts, just looking for the chance to shoot someone.”

We have to prove everyday to those who wish to ban firearms that we as gun owners are responsible, are safe, and can be trusted and that we respect the views and feeling of those who may not share our perspective on gun ownership.

Taking the short cut that on line, concealed carry training delivers is not the way to instill confidence in our decision-making and gun handling skills.

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Arizona CCH in North Carolina

North Carolina law mandates that the training required to apply for a concealed carry handgun permit be 8 hours of classroom plus range qualification. That’s listed on page three of the Concealed Carry Handgun Training manual published by the North Carolina Justice Academy. As instructors we are charged with teaching our students North Carolina law as it pertains to carrying a handgun and the use of deadly force and then evaluating their overall proficiency with a handgun. We teach students to be responsible and safe firearms owners. A current Groupon add for a company that provides online concealed carry training to North Carolina residents does none of that.

Full disclosure here – as instructors for a company that provides the training required by the state of North Carolina for a citizen to apply for a Concealed Carry Handgun permit, we encourage anyone who wishes and is qualified to get a CCH to do so. We also encourage them to get the best training available. We believe that we provide that training. We also believe there are other fine instructors throughout the state who provide the training, insight and knowledge mandated by the state and required for every citizen to carry a concealed firearm responsibly. This online training company does none of that.

This company – www.onlinecarrytraining.com – provides a 15-minute, basic handgun safety video hosted by an unnamed instructor, followed by a twenty-question test. Watch the video, pass the test – something any fourth grader could do after they have had a chat with a parent about firearms safety – and you will get a certificate that will allow you, as a North Carolina resident, to apply for an Arizona Non-Resident Concealed Carry Weapons permit.

All one has to do next is contact the Arizona Department of Public Safety and you will receive instructions, an application card, 2 finger print cards and a self-addressed return envelope. Fill everything out, send them $60.00, allow 60 days for processing and you will receive your Arizona Non-Resident CCW permit that will allow you to carry a concealed handgun in North Carolina – and many other states. A person will have not learned one thing about the law in North Carolina and will not have fired one round from a handgun.

Is this legal? Unfortunately, yes. The North Carolina legislature has decided to recognize any and all concealed carry permits issued by every state in the Union as legal for the purposes of carrying a concealed handgun in North Carolina. The thinking was that residents of other states, if allowed to carry in their home state, could visit NC and legally carry here.


That NC residents could bypass the state requirements and get a non-resident permit from another state falls into the category of unintended consequences. The legislature thought they were creating a high standard for North Carolinians to carry concealed by establishing the 8 hours of class plus qualification but they also created an enormous loophole.

Only the most irresponsible people in our community would think this is a good thing. I, for one, don’t want people carrying concealed firearms who don’t know the law and who haven’t proved that they can safely and correctly handle the gun.

What does a person gain by taking this shortcut to concealed carry? They get a fast and easy ticket that allows them to pack a pistol when they go out and about town. But do they know where they can legally carry? Do they know when they have the right to use deadly force? Do they know anything about the legal responsibilities that come with carrying a firearm? Do they even know how to use the firearm?

People think they know what they can legally do with a firearm by watching the news or from listening to their equally uninformed friends. They get a story out of Florida or Michigan or Texas and think that the same circumstances would hold true for North Carolina. Not so.  This on-line pathway to a concealed carry handgun permit is a recipe for disaster.

It’s not hard to picture a North Carolina citizen with an Arizona Non-resident CCW permit using their firearm and killing someone when they had no legal right to use deadly force. The headline the next day will scream about a concealed carry permit holder shot an innocent person and ALL North Carolina concealed carry handgun permit holders will get smeared as trigger-happy, blood thirsty goons just looking for the next target. We’ll get labeled as irresponsible and untrustworthy and that will just fuel the argument for everyone who already wants to limit our right keep and bear arms.

So please, don’t take the easy way out. Don’t risk your freedom, your rights and your finances and those of everyone you love by taking a cheap shortcut to concealed carry. Get the proper training from instructors who are certified to teach concealed carry in the state of North Carolina.

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Recent Client Testimonial About FTA’s Concealed Carry Classes in Raleigh

A testimonial from a recent student at FTA, Inc., which provides concealed carry handgun training in Raleigh, Durham, and areas throughout the Triangle.

“I thought the class was outstanding and said so on your comments page for
Living Social. I will also be recommending your organization to all my friends for this training ! Well organized, put together and executed ! Thank You again so much!”

PS : I went to law school at Campbell University for one year and for the record your version of teaching “the law” was way more entertaining! Great Work!

— Bonnie D.

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Selecting An Instructor: A Cautionary Tale

By Ken Dodd, Instructor, FTA, Inc. Garner, NC

Back in September we posted an article titled Why We Believe in 12 Hours of Training. Below is another reason why we run our courses the way we do.

From several news sources comes the story of a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) approved Concealed Weapons Instructor who appears to have cut some corners in his instruction. According to reports the instructor charged his students a $65 fee, they were then fingerprinted, filled out an application and were given the answers to the course’s test. The class lasted less than an hour and there was no live-fire qualification.

According to SC law, concealed carry classes must be eight hours and include classroom instruction and a student must qualify by firing a handgun on the range. An undercover agent attended the class and documented the instructor deviating from the legal requirements for teaching a concealed carry class.

The instructor has subsequently been charged with perjury and subornation of perjury and here’s the real kicker, all the students who previously applied for and received a South Carolina CWP but have not completed the eight hours of required instructions are also subject to perjury charges!

A person looking to take a concealed carry weapons class in the Triangle has a lot of options. Prices run the gamut from $50.00 to $150.00 and some are done in an afternoon while others span a couple of days. We think we offer the best instruction out there but hey we’re biased!

Here’s the thing to remember about the ccw instruction you choose. There are legal requirements an instructor must adhere to and there are legal requirements a student must attain in order to apply for a ccw permit. The state of North Carolina through the North Carolina Justice Academy has established the curriculum. It’s four hours of classroom instruction on NC law as it pertains to carrying a firearm and the use of deadly force and four hours of firearms safety followed by qualifying with a handgun on the range.

If a concealed carry course delivers less than that not only is the student getting shortchanged, both the instructor and the student may run the risk of legal ramifications. At FTA, Inc. you will not find us cutting any corners. We provide the most in-depth and the most comprehensive ccw instruction in the Triangle and we’ve been doing it that way since 1995.

There are instructors in the area who are very good at what they do. There are also classes where you can get things done in have a day for very little money. Do your research, ask some questions and learn what you have to do to apply for a NC ccw permit. Like everything else in life, if a deal sounds too good to be true it probably is!

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Handgun Caliber Choice and Why

Submitted by Greg Kirkman, FTA Instructor

Ken and I get a lot of questions about caliber and handguns in regard to what we recommend as the best handgun and best caliber for Concealed Carry. Below is an article written Steve Reichert on this subject.

Some of you guys will know Steve from the program Ultimate Sniper on the History Channel. Steve has a number of accomplishments in his lifetime for such a young man. In addition to his heroic acts in Iraq as a Marine sniper, he has founded not one, but two world class training organizations. You can find more detail on Steve by simply searching the internet for Steve Reichert.

I spoke with him last week about posting this article to which he was very happy to allow us to use it. Steve is a personal friend and also received his CCH training from FTA.

Let us know if you would like to see more articles such as this posted.

Steve Reichert’s handgun caliber choice and why-

I have been asked a number of times over the years what handgun round I prefer to carry & why. It’s not a simple, nor fast question to answer so shall make an attempt to do so here.

The rounds you will find by my side most of the time are some form of expanding 9mm hollow points. They are not +P’s or +P+’s, just your regular octane leaded type. Before I go on let’s get the definitions for mechanics of projectile wounding out there:

1. Penetration: The tissue through which the projectile passes, and which it disrupts or destroys.

2. Permanent Cavity: The volume of space once occupied by tissue that has been destroyed by the passage of a projectile. This is a function of penetration and the frontal area of the projectile. Quite simply, it is the hole left by the passage of a bullet.

3. Temporary Cavity: The expansion of the permanent cavity by stretching due to the transfer of kinetic energy during the projectiles passage.

4. Fragmentation: Projectile pieces of secondary fragment of bone which is impelled outward from the permanent cavity and may sever muscle tissue, blood vessels, etc. apart from the permanent cavity. 1, 2 Fragmentation is not necessarily present in every projectile wound. It may or may, or may not, occur and can be considered a secondary effect. 3

Note that pistol bullets only poke holes in targets; they are not traveling fast enough to produce major temporary cavities that damage tissue as a rifle bullet would. The temporary cavity of a pistol bullet is smaller and also formed at a much slower speed thus less damage. One must also consider that human tissue has elastic properties, tissue will stretch a lot, and if done so slowly it might not tear. Picture this, shoot a mouse with a .22 and see it explode, then shoot a pig with the same round and see nothing. The energy dumped into both targets is the same; it’s just that the temporary cavity of a .22 is larger than a mouse so the mouse explodes. The temporary cavity of a .22 on a pig is the same size but the pig is much larger and thus not effected as much by it.

Now that that’s out of the way lets discuss how a person or animal is incapacitated by projectile wounding. There are really two ways, the first being massive hemorrhaging (blood loss). This could take some time to incapacitate for there are a number of variable factors. At what rate is blood loss occurring, what physical state was the target it, is the target pumped up on drugs, mental state etc.  The second way to incapacitate is to shut down the central nervous system (CNS).  Shutting down the CNS is instant lights out!  In short, you can wait for the target to drain and pass out or flip the switch and be instantly out.

Let’s talk about draining the target…

If you want to drain a bucket full of water the bigger the hole you drill in it the faster the water will flow out the bottom. The same thing for humans and animals, however there is no really big difference in flow rates between hole sizes in .35”, .40”, .45”. Yes I know there IS a difference but do the math. Let’s say the bucket has a bottom that’s 1.8m2  (average body surface area of a male human is 1.8m2), 19.3ft2, or 2970in2. If you poke a .45” hole in the bottom now .0054% of the surface area is allowing water to escape. If you poke a .35” hole in the bottom .0034% is allowing water to escape.  Personally I don’t think there is much difference between .0034% and .0054% in relation to the human body after all it’s only 0.002%!!!8

There are lots of people who carry .45acp’s because of its “knockdown power” (a retarded term that I’ll dispel later), and because it’s “gonna punch a big hole in someone”. What they don’t take into effect is how much recoil you now have to deal with and how limited you are on ammunition. There are also people who say I’d rather have a bigger round so my chances of hitting a critical CNS spot are higher. Let’s do the math folks, a .45 is only 0.093 bigger than a .357, so you have an extra 0.0465” on either side to hit that critical CNS spot.  THAT’S NOT MUCH AT ALL! So in order to get .002% more surface area and an extra 0.093” of diameter you’re adding MUCH HIGHER RECOIL and LIMITING THE NUMBER OF ROUNDS YOU CAN CARRY! Call me nuts but why the hell would you want to do that! Penetration? Yes penetration would be a good reason to consider. The FBI did some extensive tests a number of years ago. The penetration data from 9mm & .45 ACP shot into ballistic gelatin are below.

124gr Speer Gold Dot Penetration: 12.6” FBI Test / 230gr Speer Gold Dot Penetration: 16” FBI Test

As the test data shows the extra weight of the .45 ACP round enables the round to push deeper into the gel than the lighter 9mm. This is a good thing seeing that most American’s are fat… oops, I mean obese. So depending on what angle your target is at when rounds are in the air you might need all the penetration you can get especially if you’re shooting for center mass and not trying to shut down the CNS.  Penetration is also something to consider if you might have to shoot though barriers, windows, drywall, car doors etc. Speed is a good thing, a 9mm 127gr going 1050 is spanked by the .357 Sig (also a 9mm bullet) that’s traveling on average of 200 feet per second faster. Keep in mind that for most folks a good 12” of penetration will get you through the arm and find its way to the heart. Is 16” better? Yes… is it necessary? Depends on the situation.

Now let’s talk about shutting down the CNS. This can be done by putting a round into the brain-housing group (head) in the brain stem. This is a rather small target when compared to the upper torso. If you’re taught how to shoot correctly you know to keep shooting until the target drops. If you’re attempting to shut down the CNS with a head shot you might miss. That said, wouldn’t you want to get back on target faster for a follow up shot? Would you rather deal with the recoil of a .500 S&W or the recoil of a .22LR? If I’m trying to poke holes in a target that’s small and moving I’d much rather deal with as little recoil as possible while sending a round down range that can penetrate the target and get results.

Ok onto “stopping power” now… A term that each & every time I hear it I know the person who just uttered said words has no clue what they are talking about.  I’m going to insert some work done by the FBI here to save time:

“Psychological factors such as energy deposit, momentum transfer, size of temporary cavity or calculations such as the RII are irrelevant or erroneous. The impact of a bullet upon the body is no more than the recoil of the weapon. The ratio of bullet mass to target mass is too extreme.

The often referred to “knock-down power” implies the ability of a bullet to move its target. This is nothing more than momentum of the bullet. It is the transfer of momentum that will cause a target to move in response to the blow received. “Isaac Newton proved this to be the case mathematically in the 17th Century, and Benjamin Robins verified in experimentally through the invention and us of the ballistic pendulum to determine muzzle velocity by measurement of the pendulum motion.” 4

Goddard amply proves the fallacy of “knock-down power” by calculating the heights (and resultant velocities) from which a one-pound weight and a ten-pound weight must be dropped to equal the momentum of a 9mm and .45 ACP projectiles at its muzzle velocities, respectively. The results are revealing. In order to equal the impact of a 9mm bullet at its muzzle velocity, a one-pound weight must be dropped from a height of 5.96 feet, achieving a velocity of 19.6 fps. To equal the impact of a .45 ACP bullet, the one-pound weight needs a velocity of 27.1 fps and must be dropped from a height of 11.4 feet. A ten-pound weight equals the impact of a 9mm bullet when dropped from a height of 0.72 INCHES (velocity attained is 1.96 fps), and equals the impact of a .45 when dropped from 1.73 INCHES (achieving a velocity of 2.71 fps). 5

A bullet simply cannot knock a man down. If it had the energy to do so, then equal energy would be applied against the shooter and he too would be knocked down. This is simple physics and has been known for hundreds of years. 6 The amount of energy deposited in the body by a bullet is approximately equivalent to being hit with a baseball. 7 The tissue damage is the only physical link to incapacitation within the desired time frame, i.e., instantaneously.

The human target can be reliably incapacitated only by disrupting or destroying the brain or upper spinal cord. Absent that, incapacitation is subject to a host of variables, the most important of which are beyond the control of the shooter. Incapacitation becomes an eventual event, not necessarily an immediate one. If the psychological factors, which can contribute to incapacitation are present, even a minor wound can be immediately incapacitating. If they are not present, incapacitation can be significantly delayed even with major, survivable wounds. “

Ok so if you’re still with me I hope that you have learned something. That way next time you’re on the range or in a gun shop and you see some guy toting a 1911 and spitting out nonsense like “back in Nam” “the .45 would lift a gook of his feet” or “knock-down power” you will instantly identity him as a buffoon.

Long explanation of why I carry a 9mm… in short, it recoils less, I can poke more holes exactly where I need them – faster – and I have more rounds onboard should I need them.

Additional notes 12/30: Hollow-points (HP) are designed to expand at a certain velocity, thus if your hand-cannon launches said projectiles at a slower velocity they might not work as designed. Also keep in mind that if you clog a hollow point with clothing or other materials it might not expand. Hornady recently came up with its Critical DutyTM line of ammunition that’s pre-clogged! They designed it so that it would perform predictably in most barriers shot during the FBI protocol. DON’T EXPECT a HP round to do magic! You’re only poking a hole in a target… and IF the HP round does expand to cause a larger permanent cavity, you don’t want to be sitting around with your thumb up your ass waiting for a target to bleed out. In closing if you can’t find a 9mm that fits your requirements (due to hand size or concealability) ensure that you carry some form of ballistic protection. A .22 in the pocket is better than nothing!

Semper Fi,  Steve

1. DiMaio, V.J.M.: Gunshot Wounds, Elsevier Science Publishing Company, New Your, NY            Chapter 3, Wound Ballistics: 41-49

2. Fackler, M.L., Malinowski, J.A.: “The Wound Profile: A Visual Method for Quantifying Gunshot Wound Components”, Journal of Trauma 25, 522-529

3. Fackler, M.L., MD “Missile Caused Wounds”, Letterman Army Institute of Research, Presidio of San Francisco, CA, Report No. 231

4. Goddard, Stanley: “Some Issues for Consideration in Choosing Between 9mm and .45 ACP Handguns” Battelle Labs, Ballistic Sciences, Ordnance Systems and Technology Section Columbus, OH pages 3-4

5. Goddard, Stanley: “Some Issues for Consideration in Choosing Between 9mm and .45 ACP Handguns” Battelle Labs, Ballistic Sciences, Ordnance Systems and Technology Section Columbus, OH pages 3-4

6. Newton, Sir Isaac, Principia Mathematica, 1687 in which stated Newton’s Laws of Motion. The Second Law of Motion states that a body will accelerate, or change its speed, at a rate that is proportional to the force acting upon it. In simpler terms, forever action there is an equal but opposite reaction. The acceleration will of course be inverse proportion to the mass of the body. For example, the same force acting upon a body of twice the mass will produce exactly half the acceleration.

7. Lindsay, Douglas, MD, Presentation to the Wound Ballistics Workshop, Quantico VA

8. Reichert, Charles F, Rikert Engineering, Norwood MA



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Living Social Special Instructions: Registration!

To all who purchased Living Social Vouchers for our Concealed Carry Permit Class, thank you very much. To schedule your spot in class, check the “Course Schedule” section of our website. Please note that all three days in a given month constitute ONE class! Then please send an email to ftawegs@mindspring.com and be sure to include you name, email address, phone number, voucher number and include your first three choices for class dates.

Upon receiving this information we will do everything we can to accommodate your request. Once we get class rosters set you will receive a confirmation email from FTA notifying you of your class dates. This may take several weeks, but you will get a confirmation within 3 to 4 weeks from the start your class. Thank you for your patience and again, thank you for choosing Firearms Training Associates.

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Why We Believe In 12 Hours of Training

By Ken Dodd, Instructor, FTA, Inc. Garner, NC

At Firearms Training Associates we believe our Concealed Carry Weapon Permit class is the most thorough offering in the Triangle, giving our students an in-depth exposure to rights, responsibilities and skills required for lawful firearm ownership.

Still, perspective clients often ask us why we structure our class to be conducted over three days. If you shop around the Triangle for other concealed carry classes you’ll find some that are conducted in one day and some that take up the whole weekend. Here’s why we hold our classes over three days.

The first class is a four-hour session on a Monday evening that covers North Carolina law as it pertains to owning, carrying and using a handgun. We discuss your rights as a lawful owner of a firearm, your responsibilities that come with firearm ownership and the rights of your neighbors and fellow citizens who may not be inclined to share your ideas and opinions of firearms. This is a lot of information and the law and the decisions that come from it are almost always changing.

The second class on a Wednesday evening is also a four-hour class that focuses on firearms safety. Our clients learn the parts of both revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. We discus how to handle a firearm, what a proper sight picture looks like, how to care for and store a firearm, what can go wrong when you pull the trigger and how to rectify those situations. Again, this is very important information and there is a lot of it.

Our Saturday session is a four-hour, qualifying session on our range that generally starts mid-morning. Staffed by three to five instructors depending on class size we teach our clients proper stance and grip of the firearm and how to present, or draw, it from the holster. We practice voice commands, an integral and often overlooked component should a person have to draw their firearm to defend themselves. We practice proper sight pictures, breathing techniques and how to make accurate follow-up shots. We try to create muscle memory that may possibly save a person’s life should they ever find themselves in a high-stress, high-adrenaline confrontation with real bad guys. We do all of this with a singular focus on safety.

On range day, FTA is one of the few companies that actually instruct it students on presenting the firearm from the holster. Why do we do that when others don’t? Where will your firearm be if you have a real-world encounter with someone with violent intentions? We believe that it’s critical to learn and practice in an environment that most closely replicates the world in which we live.

And FTA does something we know no other company does. We have a standing invitation to all our clients to return to EVERY range day to practice and shoot with each new class. We believe in proficiency with a firearm and the only way to achieve that is through practice. So you can see Saturday is also packed with information.

Now you’re saying “But three four-hour classes is a lot of time.” You are correct but the North Carolina Department of Justice curriculum requires a person receive eight hours of instruction plus qualify in a live-fire range session to pass a concealed carry permit courses. That is mandated by North Carolina law. At FTA we think trying to cover all of this classroom information in one giant, eight hour “brain dump” is counter-productive. People can forget or miss key points of information. They get tired, restless or bored. They don’t have time to digest the information and ask questions. Our instructors are all former law enforcement officers, each with more than 30 years of LE experience and years of instructing thousands of Triangle residents. They know their stuff and they know how to teach it.

The bottom line is that a person can probably find a class that costs less money or is conducted in a shorter time span. But you will not find a class that is more thorough, has better instructors or is more valuable than that offered by FTA.

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September 2011 Concealed Carry Class

By Ken Dodd, Instructor,
FTA, Inc. Garner, NC

The September 2011 Concealed Carry Permit Class offered by Firearms Training Associates begins on Monday September 19th with a four-hour session in the evening that covers North Carolina law as it pertains to owning, carrying and using a handgun. We cover use of force, talk about open carry versus concealed carry, we cover applicable state laws and all the requirements a person must meet to obtain a firearm and a concealed carry permit in the state of North Carolina.

Class continues on Wednesday evening September 21st and is also a four-hour class that focuses this time on firearms safety. Our clients learn the parts of handguns, both revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. We discuss how to handle a firearm, what a proper sight picture looks like, how to care for and store a firearm, what can go wrong when you pull the trigger and how to rectify those situations.

FTA’s Concealed Carry Permit class concludes on Saturday the 24th with a four-hour, qualifying session on our range that generally starts mid-morning. With a focus on safety and staffed with 3 to 5 instructors depending on class size, we teach our clients proper stance and grip of the firearm and how to present, or draw, it from the holster. We believe our class is the most thorough offering in the Triangle, giving our students an in-depth exposure to rights, responsibilities and skills required for lawful firearm ownership.

If you make the decision to obtain a North Carolina concealed carry permit or if you’re just looking to broaden your experience and deepen your confidence with a firearm, we hope that you’ll look to FTA for the most comprehensive firearms training in the Triangle. You can go to the “Register Now” page on our website or all 800-673-7272 or 919-986-0630 to reserve your spot in class. See you this September.

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Which Gun Should I Get?

By Larry Wegman, Range Safety Officer,  FTA, Inc. Garner, NC

Which gun should I get? FTA has conducted concealed carry classes in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area since 1995 and at every class we hear that question. Several times! And so with the words of my old journalism professor ringing in my ears telling me ‘Don’t bury the lead,” here’s the answer. Get a gun that you can shoot accurately. That may sound simplistic and not actually clarify the issue so let me explain.

You’ve all probably heard the old saw, when asked why he carries a .45 the man answers, “because they don’t make a .46.” There are proponents who believe that you shouldn’t have a defensive handgun that doesn’t sport a caliber that doesn’t begin in a four. Well in the perfect world of bigger must be better; I guess that’s true. But here’s the equation that everyone must recognize and deal with – four well placed shots on target with a .22LR are more effective than four misses with a .45!

So in order of importance here, in my opinion, are the criteria for selecting a defensive handgun. Number one – get a firearm that you can be proficient with. Number two – get a firearm you will practice with. Practice will make you proficient.  There’s no way to sugar coat it, some handguns are uncomfortable to shoot. If you find the recoil to be too harsh you are less likely to practice. Try to avoid this situation. Number three – get a firearm that fits your hand. Here in the Triangle, any reputable firearms dealer or instructor will help you with this process and the only way to do this is to put some guns in your hand. Number four – your firearm MUST be dependable. It is folly to get a sexy looking, cool, cheap, macho, fill in your own adjective gun if you can’t count on it to go bang every time.

Now with all that information swirling around here are the important questions to ask that only you have the answers to:

Will this firearm be for concealed carry purposes or will it be a home defense gun? Concealed carry will automatically narrow your choices. Home defense needs open the options to include full-sized handguns, shotguns, carbines and rifles.

Do you want a revolver or a semi-automatic pistol? They both have their advantages and their disadvantages. Do some research and ask your friends who shoot what they think.

What kind of sights do you want? Night sights? Adjustable?

Do you want to attach lasers or other tactical lights to your handgun?

If you choose a semi-automatic do you want a manual safety? A de-cocker? A magazine disconnect? A loaded chamber indicator? How many rounds do you want in the magazine?

Where will this firearm be at ALL times? If it’s not in a holster somewhere on your person, where is it? Is it secure so kids or bad guys can’t get at it? Can you get to it easily when you need to? Do you need trigger locks? The law in North Carolina requires the firearm owner be responsible for that firearm at all times.

So there you have it. You probably have more questions now than you had at the beginning but at least you know which questions are important and which answers will be important to you. Firearms Training Associates, Inc. is one of the oldest, most respected firearms training organizations in the Triangle and our instructors would be glad to help you find the answers to these questions.


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