Since last July, Pine River residents have had handgun certification available right in their hometown. At that time Darrell and Tracy Wolkenhauer began offering classes for permit to carry firearm certification.
Darrell and Tracy earned their own teaching certification in June of last year from Front Site in Nevada and brought it home to benefit their community. Since then they have certified approximately 100 individuals during their monthly daylong courses.
This certification is primarily for individuals seeking personal protection, whether in public city settings or while walking the woods. In any case the Wolkenhauers caution that the certification is not a "recreational" one.
As a result of the very serious nature of handgun safety, the Wolkenhauers train their students not only in using their weapons, but also in avoiding weapon use.
"We don't want to be in a situation ever where we have to take that firearm out. It's a tool of last resort. You never want to touch it. We teach a lot of mental awareness so you can actually avoid those situations," Tracy explained.
It is this protection that the Wolkenhauers stress is the focus of their courses. Darrell also explains protection as the justification for owning a handgun.
"If they're against a permit to carry or against handguns all they are doing is relying on somebody else to protect them. We're protecting ourselves and our families," Darrell explained.
Tracy agreed, saying, "Myself, I manage a bar. I get done late at night. You don't get to pick if somebody is going to attack you, what time they are going to attack you. If you did you wouldn't be there."
The next daylong permit to carry course runs from about 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 22, with breaks for lunch. Even so, Tracy insists that the course is actually "not a one-day shooting course. This is a serious deal. It's for personal protection, it's not for fun. You have to train to stay up on it."
The five-year certification carries a few different costs. Class costs are around $85, while the background check and paperwork for the sheriff's department can cost an additional $100. Usually, five-year recertification has a slightly reduced cost, yet the expense may still result in a certain level of deterrent for applicants that might not be suitable for a license or might not take the certification seriously.
"If they gotta pay $185 out of their pocket to carry a gun they're probably pretty serious about protecting themselves and their family. If it was five bucks everyone would do it," Darrell explained.
"You got a lot of people that say this is our right - and it is our right, but it's also a privilege. I think of it kind of like a driver's license. You have to prove you can drive to get a driver's license. You should have to prove that you're safe with a handgun to get a permit to carry," Tracy said. "Safety is the key."
The Wolkenhauers use the money they earn from teaching, in turn, to keep up their own training. Besides their own recertification the couple uses the profits to advance their own education as well in hopes of eventually offering more advanced classes to the public such as advanced tactics classes and additional training in shotguns and rifles.
The Wolkenhauers, especially Darrell, believe strongly that, "You have to be able to do what you teach."
For more information on the classes, contact the Wolkenhauers at 587-2637.
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