By August 10, 2010

Proactive Shooters Utah Out of State Concealed Carry Course Review

About two months ago I had the opportunity to take the Utah non-resident permit concealed carry course offered by Proactive Shooters. Proactive Shooters is a personal safety and training company based out of Richmond, Virginia. James Reynolds, the founder of Proactive Shooters, is a retired law enforcement officer with twelve years of experience in New Jersey and Virginia.

When most kids were buying a case of beer on their 21st birthday, I had my butt in a concealed carry class in Richmond. Fast forward more than a few years later, and here I was in Mr. Reynolds’s class. Why would someone with a valid Virginia permit want one from Utah?

The reason is the tangled web of interstate permit reciprocity.

A Patchwork Quilt of Carry Permits

Some states honor permits from other states. For example, as of this writing, my Virginia resident permit is recognized by twenty-nine states, including neighboring North Carolina and South Carolina.

However, my Virginia permit is not recognized in Georgia, where some of my best friends live. So I can either travel safely with my handgun up to the South Carolina/Georgia border and lock up my firearm until I leave Georgia, or I can apply for a non-resident permit of a state that Georgia does recognize.

In my case, I applied for the New Hampshire non-resident out of state permit. I passed the criminal background check and training requirements. I am now legally able to carry a concealed pistol in the state of Georgia because the New Hampshire permit is recognized there.

So why Utah? Well, New Hampshire and Virginia don’t give me other states where I might travel, such as Washington state. A Utah out of state permit allows me to carry in about thirty states. Between the Virginia, New Hampshire and Virginia permits I am in good shape to go to about any state I’d want to travel to or live in.

Yes, having to figure all of this stuff out is a pain, and laws change all of the time. While not the be-all source for current reciprocity, Handgunlaw.us has a nice interactive permit reciprocity map to help you along.

The Proactive Course

The course itself was all classroom-based, with about six hours of lecture overall. The session was broken up with short breaks. There were about ten or so of us in the class. I got there early, so I sat up front and center so I could hear Mr. Reynolds and watch his movements closely. I introduce some of my friends and co-workers to firearms, so I was hoping I could pick up a few things to pass along.

The material covered basic firearm safety, range safety, firearm cleaning/storage and ammunition handling. There was some discussion about how revolvers and semi-automatic pistols worked, and a discussion on what makes a handgun mechanically unsafe to fire. Mr. Reynolds had an older revolver with several mechanical problems. It was interesting to see a handgun that appeared to be in good shape from a distance turn out to be totally unsafe to fire upon further inspection. I had experienced this first-hand with my Curio & Relic license and some surplus firearms, but I had never seen this addressed in a “beginner” class before. Nifty.

The course covered a lot of legal issues, which I expected. We discussed reciprocity, state statutes (such as where you can and cannot legally carry), the “force continuum” and thinking about overall safety if we are ever in a shooting event. Mr. Reynolds went through great pains to get the class to think beyond their target. He used a progressive narrative approach that started with a simple example and increased in complexity in order for the class to wrap their heads around a topic.

The exercise was easy at first. “What if you are approached by a man with a gun?” Mr. Reynolds asked. We discussed retreat options, avoidance options, and engagement options. For the purpose of his exercise, we assumed we would face the man with the gun.

“What if he is in front of a school, with children running behind him? What if you’re moving? What if he’s moving?”

The class was silent for a few heartbeats. Suddenly something simple became more complicated.

With each “what if,” the answers from the class came more slowly, and sometimes with less confidence. Mr. Reynolds wanted us to think about the consequences — both ethical and legal — of engaging someone in a self-defense shooting. In order for the class to see the “big picture,” Mr. Reynolds started out with a simple concept and took it progressively further until it resembled a realistic self-defense scenario.

I play the What If? game frequently. Most handgun owners just go to the shooting range and shoot without having to worry about a backstop, or people crossing in front (or behind) of their shots. I think traditional “stand and deliver” range shooting does firearm owners a disservice for many reasons, but conditioning us to think that our worries stop at smooth trigger pull and recoil management is a grave error.

Conclusion and Personal Reaction

This is my fifth concealed carry course I’ve attended in a fifteen year period. I found Mr. Reynolds’s course to be very educational, thorough, and professional. There was some humor in there to lighten up the mood a bit, and overall I found the class to be great, especially for folks new to firearms.

I lament that there aren’t shooting tests with most concealed carry permit classes any more. My first Virginia concealed carry permit — back when it applied to all weapons and not just handguns — included a 200-round scored shooting practical. The shooting drills included shooting two-handed, one-handed (each hand), from cover with two hands, and from cover with one hand only. We had two participants fail the shooting practical. These days, they’d pass the class and be eligible for a permit if they passed the background check.

However, that complaint isn’t about the Proactive Shooters course, or Mr. Reynolds’s style. I recommend that anyone in the area interested in a concealed carry permit (or just looking for a refresher) to consider his course. Even if you don’t plan on traveling to Utah, the Utah non-resident permit may come in handy no matter where you live.

Strongly recommended.

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2 Comments on "Proactive Shooters Utah Out of State Concealed Carry Course Review"

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  1. Chris H says:

    I’ve been threatening to get trained for a Utah non-res permit for a while. This post sparked my interest again. When looking at the reciprocity map, any idea what “permit holder must be resident of the state they honor” (yellow in the legend) means?

  2. Mike says:

    Good post. I just found your blog, and we share many interests. I do wonder what experience you have that has led you to know that Most handgun owners just go to the shooting range and shoot without having to worry about a backstop, or people crossing in front (or behind) of their shots. I assure you that this kind of d-baggery would not be tolerated in any circles in which I run.

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