Concealed carry permit training site to come to local town

By Steffie Drucker

A new firearms training center is set to open near Deland, Ill. tentatively in late December on University Police Department Sgt. William Smoot’s rural property.

“The initial reason was to help provide a location for concealed carry permit training for the membership of the Faculty/Staff Firearms Safety Program. We have around 300 members and a fair number of them are interested in concealed carry classes,” said Smoot, the director of the program. “We’re not going to be conducting this training at the Police Training Institute range (so) we needed to figure out a place to do it.”

He realized his rural property would be just the place. With no neighbors around to worry about the noise of gunshots or rounds flying and a spacious four-car garage that would convert nicely into a classroom, Smoot determined his property could be ideal.

In order to qualify for an Illinois concealed carry license, an applicant must meet several requirements, one of which is to complete 16 hours of firearms training that includes both classroom and range instruction, according to the Illinois State Police’s website.

“You’re handling a very powerful tool. You need to be careful, you need to know what you’re doing and what you’re handling. It’s an object that needs to be respected,” said Maikel Fresco, a junior in LAS and firearm owner. “I think it’s very important that our police get involved in the community and someone who knows the area and can reach out to students who are interested in looking into firearms.”

A former student of Smoot’s, Aleksander Dapkus, president of Illini on Target and senior in LAS, agrees. 

“I think it’s a great idea. It’s good that we have a place that’s run by someone who’s really knowledgeable about the training that we should seek out,” he said. “If anyone were to do it, he’s the right guy.”

The curriculum of the program must follow certain state mandates in order to give permits to applicants. The course must be a minimum of 16 hours and include both a classroom and range portion. Trainees learn about basic firearm safety, all laws relating to firearms, handling and care of the firearm and they must pass a live fire exercise. 

Now that Smoot has received official approval, he is in the process of developing a curriculum based on these mandates and is in the process of building a berm for students to practice on. He hopes to start classes in late December.

Steffie can be reached at [email protected]