DDN Reporter takes CHL class; biggest lesson SAFETY

Try finding any actual gun safety training like this being offered by so-called gun safety advocates like Toby Hoover, the Million Mom March, or Americans For Gun Safety. You won't find it, because they don't offer it. The DDN now nows - the REAL advocates for gun safety are the law-abiding people who own them.

Safety at gunpoint
Concealed-carry course aims at gun handling

April 15, 2004

By Kristin McAllister
Dayton Daily News

SHARONVILLE | Chuck Rodenberg stood ready, both hands wrapped around the grip of his Ruger 9 mm pistol pointed down at a 45-degree angle.

Elbows and wrists locked, he's focused on the target 20 feet away, waiting for it to move. It does. In one swift movement, Rodenberg snaps up his arms parallel to the ground in a combat stance and fires two shots in four seconds — dead on.

The Clermont County man drops back to ready and waits to see if the target moves again.

"Keep your eye on the target, don't take your eye off him," instructor Dennis Lengle warns from behind.

Guns are serious, Lengle said. That's the tone at the concealed-carry course at the Great Oaks Police Academy. The levity in the room the previous two nights of classroom instruction was left at the door.

"Gun handling versus marksmanship, what's more important? Gun handling," Lengle said. "You must demonstrate the proper knowledge, skills and attitude — that's safety and how you act. Going out to the range once a year isn't going to cut it."

Standing in the center of the 15-member group, the 30-year FBI veteran and firearms instructor lingers over the words "firearm" and "gun." He avoids the word "weapon" because a concealed-carry permit may be the goal, but safety and responsibility are the lessons stressed.

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On Lengle's command, students demonstrate stances, dry-run shooting, firearm disassembly and reassembly and setting the handgun to rest in a safe position — where the slide is pulled back with the action open on a pistol and the cylinder is exposed and up on a revolver.

About 15 minutes into practice, it's time for live fire performance testing.

Students must score 100 percent for shooting within key torso areas on moving targets at shorter distances and score 80 percent or better at longer distances. A shot outside the key torso area and the student flunks. About 40 rounds are spent, not including practice.

Instructors pace behind students, checking for safe gun handling, competency and giving advice.

Lengle's next wave of commands come.

"Reload your revolver or magazine, get ready, watch your target," he said.

Rapid fire.

"Clear!" Lengle yells over the range. The targets are brought in for inspection.

Students use masking tape to quickly cover fresh bullet holes and prepare for the next test series, each progressing in difficulty and speed.

Everyone in the Wednesday night class scored 100 percent. After nearly four hours on the range, students took a break and dropped into chairs, fatigued.

"I'm spent," is heard from a group gathered outside the classroom door.

"My back hurts," said John Drake of Clermont County. "It's sore, standing all that time."

Of the course, Drake said, "It was well run, very safe. You knew exactly what you were doing when you were supposed to do it.

"Anybody should try this that wants to. It will make them feel safe having the ability to carry," he said, then raising a brow, "Of course, the Ohio law is really ridiculous and I'm happy to point that out."

Back in the classroom, instructor and Deer Park police Lt. Milton Proctor urged students to seek additional training.

"This is just a start if someone is planning on carrying a gun with them," he said.

"And make sure you have the weapon to your skill level," firearms instructor Ronda Kidd chimed in.

Lengle ended the course with a sobering video about the seriousness of carrying a concealed handgun.

Goodbyes are exchanged. Everyone heads to their cars, proud of what they just accomplished yet no less mindful of the added responsibility.

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