Expert: Firearm proficiency takes continuous practice

One firearms training expert says it takes much more dedication than the legal requirements to obtain a handgun carry permit to become proficient with a handgun.

President Donald Trump is pushing a plan to allow teachers with a concealed carry permit to carry firearms in classrooms and a range in Oak Ridge offering a carry permit class to area teachers free of charge.

However, one firearms expert says it takes much more dedication to become proficient with a gun than what is required by law to carry a gun.

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"Training is basically practice based and education desired, meaning people want an education on how to handle, use and operate a firearm, but sometime they don't know what they would like," said Robbie Paskiewicz, general manager of Knoxville Gun Range. "People advance their own training by how much they practice, or worse yet, how much they don't practice."

Paskiewicz has been training shooters for over 30 years, and the Knoxville Gun Range offers training courses on average of 25 days a month.

Carry permit courses require an eight hour class, of which about two hours are on the range. Paskiewicz says it takes more commitment to improve firearm handling to a proficient level.

"The average person will purchase a firearm, they'll use it to practice a little bit, then take the carry permit class and sometime they don't ever shoot it again, or not frequently enough to be proficient with it," he said.

To put training loads in perspective, recruits for the Blount County Sheriff's Office receive about 55 hours of basic firearms training on the range, plus additional hours for active shooter scenarios and other specific situations.

Paskiewicz said people frequently underestimate how much practice it takes to become proficient with firearms.

"People say that they've been shooting for a long time. Shooting for a long time is a little difficult to understand from our perspective in the gun industry," he said. "If you've been shooting for 20 years but you've only shot 3 times, and that's not a lot of practice. If you've been shooting for three years but you shoot every week, that seems to be a lot of practice and for us we find that those people are more consistent with their shooting schedule are a lot more proficient."

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Paskiewicz said in active shooter situations, experience and situation training are even more important, and every gun owner takes a different amount of practice to become proficient.

"Some of the courses that we teach try to prepare people for reacting quickly and trying to think," he said. "Once adrenalin kicks in and fear kicks in, it's very difficult to try to know what you're going to do until you're put into that moment."