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Smoking Gun: Is 16 Hours Enough?

Untrained and only picking up a handgun one time before, I tested how well I could shoot before starting the Illinois concealed carry course.

Once the smoke cleared, we saw I was not an accurate enough shot to be elgible for a concealed carry license.

While there were plenty of experienced shooters in the class, the training was geared toward beginners like me.

With methods the instructors say can help almost anyone meet the state's standards.

"They're proven to work, and we know they're going to work as long as we teach our students the right way." said trainer Josh Young.

Hours in the classroom, time spent learning how to hold a gun, how to stand, and how to draw from a holster.

All while learning how big of a responsibilty it is to carry a gun.

"If they ever have to pull that firearm out in a situation, their life will never be the same.", Young said.

That's emphasized over and over throughout the 16 hours.

While learning all the laws that go along with concealed carry.

It's a lot of information, but not too much that somebody starting from scratch can't get it.

"If you pay attention in class and you have good common sense, you can do this in 16 hours.", said trainer Dean Hazen.

This course isn't just about handling a firearm safely. You have to shoot, and shoot well. Each applicant must pass an accuracy test before passing through the course.

Before the class started, this is what I failed.

"Yesterday you weren't comfortable, you really didn't know how to stand. You didn't know how to grip the gun.", said trainer Rick Noble.

So time for my second attempt. 30 shots, 10 from five yards, 10 from seven yards, 10 from 10 yards.

Everyone else in the class, including the other beginners, passed.

But how about me?

"Uou got 30 hits inside the seven ring. That's what it takes to qualify, so that's marked improvement.", explained Noble.

Going from a complete beginner missing almost half the shots I took, to landing every shot with accuracy and qualifying for an Illinois concealed carry license in 16 hours.

But the instructors say if any beginner wants to carry, they can't stop there.

"16 hours is not enough to take a completely novice shooter and tell you to go carry a gun out in public and that you're 100 percent confident with it.", said Hazen.

--Reported by David Ade