Demand up for concealed weapons permits, instructors in S.C.

By Mike Eads | Anderson Independent Mail, S.C. (Tribune News Service) | Published: December 31, 2015

Wayne Blanton recently started a part-time job for his off hours from Bosch in Anderson: being an instructor to concealed weapons permit applicants.

"I'm ex-military and I always enjoyed guns and shooting competitions," said Blanton, a former Navy construction engineer. "One thing led to another and I had people contacting me for help with training for their concealed weapons permit."

Blanton and others say there has been a spike in CWP applicants reacting to recent terrorist attacks in Paris; San Bernardino, Calif.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and other spots around the world. That demand has led Blanton and others to become certified instructors by taking two, eight-hour National Rifle Association classes and being certified by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

CWP instructors must stipulate to SLED that permit applicants have been schooled on laws regarding deadly force, firearms and concealed weapons permits, proper storage and denying access to children, prohibited carry locations, liability and responsibility relating to firearms, interacting with police, firearm safety and operation rules, concealment and drawing and marksmanship.

"One of the biggest things I cover is when you can and cannot use your gun," said Blanton. "There are very strict rules about when you can use your gun ... and I encourage people to continue with their training, because there is so much to learn and you can't cover it all in eight hours."

Jerry James and Jim Turner couldn't agree more with that last statement. James owns the Skip-J Range, located in a remote pasture off Dobbins Bridge Road west of the Anderson Regional Airport. He rents his outdoor facilities to other instructors and local police agencies and has a new business with Turner offering "judgment training" to CWP holders.

"We spend a lot of time on the front end on drawing the weapon, getting it on target and making the shots," said James, an Army veteran and NRA- and SLED-certified instructor. "We show you how to retrieve your firearm from a holster or purse or pocket and put two quick shots on target from a range of 3 to 15 feet."

Key to the training is the computer-assisted simulation. A room is fitted with a large screen that shows interactive scenarios — students use a Glock handgun modified with a laser and learn how to properly react to threats, discern assailants from innocent bystanders and work on their form for drawing, pointing and firing their weapons. Only then do they go out on the range and do live fire exercises, and they are urged to come back every six months for refresher courses.

It's about developing muscle memory and giving the permit holder confidence that they can responsibly use a firearm, Turner said.

"A lot of times, with the CWP classes out there now, it's like college: you learn all these things to get your permit and forget them as soon as you're done," said Turner, a retired Marine who recently returned from training local security forces in Afghanistan. "It's our job to take someone and show them the importance of being fundamentally correct. We've had people come in who thought they knew all about guns, then walk out saying, 'Oh my God, everybody should have this training.' "

Go to http://1.usa.gov/1PxNnp6 to read more about South Carolina's concealed weapons program, including a list of local instructors certified by SLED to teach CWP classes.
Follow Michael Eads on Twitter @MikeEads_AIM
(c)2015 the Anderson Independent Mail (Anderson, S.C.)
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