By Sinclaire Carr, The Mountaineer
Carrying a firearm is nothing to be taken lightly, and that point is driven home well at the Concealed Carry Academy, a handgun training course that culminates in certification for carrying a concealed handgun.
Anyone who wants to apply for a concealed carry permit in the state of North Carolina must first complete a full eight hours of instruction and do supervised shooting at the range. Concealed Carry Academy offers all eight hours plus the range in a single day. The class also provides all needed materials, so there’s no need to pack a firearm or ammunition for the course.
The class covers a lot of ground, including handgun safety, laws and legal issues, types of handguns, basic marksmanship fundamentals, basics of carrying concealed (holstering, placement), presentation techniques, types of ammunition, legal defense, where it’s legally allowable to carry concealed and licensing procedures beyond the class.
State law dictates that anyone can carry a handgun in allowed areas as long as it is clearly visible and the person is legally allowed to own the firearm, but carrying a clearly visible handgun is not recommended by course instructors.
“Someone could just walk up behind you and pull the gun out of the holster and use it against you,” said Harvey Morse, seasoned law enforcement professional and leader of Concealed Carry Academy.
Morse has nearly 60 years of law enforcement experience, and started the class to make learning the laws of concealed carry a bit more palatable.
When Morse pursued getting his concealed carry permit in North Carolina, he was given a book of handgun laws and told to follow along as his instructor proceeded to read straight from the law book for the entire eight hours.
“I almost went insane. I knew there had to be a better way,” Morse said.
Morse began his career in Massachusetts as a vehicular homicide detective before moving to Florida and working as a sergeant in highway patrol.
He now works with Haywood County’s emergency response team and holds a number of certifications. He even does some real estate brokering on the side.
“I’m very big on education,” Morse said.
Morse gathered a handful of trusted law enforcement professionals to teach the Concealed Carry Academy certification class, all who went through the North Carolina police academy for concealed carry instruction certification. Videos, questions from the class and a powerpoint slide serve to break up the monotony of the day.
“We teach very casually, and the one thing we like is questions,” Morse said. “I always like to throw in some law enforcement experiences, too.”
The day before the class, Morse and his instructors gather materials and prepare for the eight hour course. The day after the class, the guns are cleaned and all the paperwork is entered into the computer. Morse said about 350 hours of work goes into the course.
The academy also provides all ammunition and firearms for range shooting, and personal firearms are not allowed.
“We get some students who would come in with their husband’s old handgun and who knows how long it’s been since it was cleaned. If students were bringing their own I would have to sit there in all good conscience and inspect every person’s gun,” Morse said.
Instructor Sandy Moss, retired lieutenant of Buncombe County Sheriff and former firearms instructor at the North Carolina Justice Academy, was the first female SWAT team leader in North Carolina. She provides an in-depth look at types of handguns, and said she likes to help female class-goers feel comfortable.
“Everybody can do this,” Moss said.
Instructor Harry Katt, retired captain of Lakeland, Florida’s police department spent a stint in the U.S. Army and as a police academy instructor. Katt offers a look into some potential firearm scenarios and personal safety concerns.
“It is so easy today, if you don’t know the law, to go from victim to suspect in the blink of an eye,” Katt said.
Katt also teaches a situational awareness course through the academy, and all instructors offer personal marksmanship training for anyone interested in honing their skills.
Class-goers pursue concealed carry permits for various reasons, from personal safety to assurance that they’ll stay on the right side of the law.
“I don’t go looking for trouble, but should something arise, I’d like to be prepared. Response time is something like ten minutes and a lot can happen in that amount of time,” said class attendee Thomas Holloway.
Attendee Cindy Cheffy said she took the class because her husband carries, and she wanted to be covered legally as well.
“If that gun is under the passenger seat and I’m in the car while he’s driving, I could be liable,” Cheffy said. “It’s for protection.”
What to expect
Classes are held in a classroom building behind Dellwood Baptist Church.
The day begins with an overview of handgun safety, different types of handguns and some basic shooting techniques.
Attendees then head to a private shooting range to fire off 30 rounds of ammunition into a target at 3 feet, 5 feet and 21 feet.
“We’re not looking for accuracy, although that’s good. We’re looking to make sure the person can safely handle the firearm,” Morse said.
After the shooting range, the class heads back to the church for lunch and more instruction. A two-hour portion of the class is spent going over various laws about carrying concealed in North Carolina and what can happen if a person is ever in a public shooting situation.
At the end of the day, students take a written exam and are given a certificate of course completion. To acquire a permit, graduates of the course arrange a meeting with the sheriff’s office to present their certificate and complete the permit process.
The class costs $100 and happens once a month. Visit wecancarry.com for class registration information.