I was pretty nervous going to the class that morning. I had to be at the Bracken Range by 0900. I found the range the day before, so I knew how to get there from my home. I was a little early and there wasn’t anyone else at the entrance gate. We were told to park at the gate and wait for someone from the school to come collect our paper and get us into the range property.
Around 9:30, a lady showed up and collected our papers. By then, there were quite a few cars and trucks lined up at the entrance and down the side of the road. Once all the papers were collected, we were allowed to drive through the gate and then park in the parking lot.
Now this place isn’t all that fancy. The whole place is out in the country and it’s mostly dirt. The parking lot is gravel. I parked next to other people arriving and got all my stuff. I was carrying an EDC bag with my pistol or rather, Patricia’s pistol, which I had borrowed for the shooting part of the exam. Her Ruger SR9c was a very nice shooter that I had shot about two-weeks prior to this day.
So, I walk towards the Range area and I see a guy who is kind of standing at the entrance to one side of the range. He’s directing people into the area where Wetmore Shooting Sports are going to conduct the shooting portion of the exam. There’s this one big guy and two other guys in Wetmore Shooting shirts so I assumed correctly that they were the Range Master and the Range Officers.
The Range Master divides us up into two groups of about ten people. I was in the first group and happened to be paired up with a young lady. Each pair of shooters shares a small table. We’re told to move forward on the range with only our pistol and one magazine. We carry our table between us and set it down at the 3 yard mark. There we are instructed on how to conduct the exam.
We’re told how many rounds to load in our magazine and how many seconds we have to shoot those rounds. In this first portion, we shoot 20 total rounds. I don’t think I could miss anything from this close!
Then we moved back to the 7 yard mark. Again, we fire a total of 20 rounds.
Then we move back to the 15 yard mark and fired a total of 10 rounds. Once done, we’ve fired 50 rounds in total.
The Range Master then tells us to go put our pistols away after one of the Range Officers visually inspects our weapon to make sure it is empty and on safe.
We then proceed back down range to look at our targets. I had most of my rounds inside the 10, 9, and 8 rings with a tendency to be shooting left and down. I don’t think I missed the target at all.
The Range Master came to look at each shooters target starting with the young lady to my right. I don’t think she has shot a pistol very much. Her hits were all over the target and some completely missed, I’m sure. The Range Master told her she definitely needed more range time. He said she needed a score of 175 out of 200 to pass this part of the test. He then began counting each of her shots inside the 10, 9, and 8 ring. He finally told her that she apparently had passed the shooting portion of the test, but barely.
He then came to my target and said I passed without any other comments. That’s OK with me because all I wanted to do was pass.
After all the targets were assessed, we took them down and moved back to the rear of the range under the shade. We were allowed to sit down and watch the second group go through their shooting exam.
Once that was done, the Range Master told us we had about 45 minutes to get from the Bracken Range to his shop which was down 281 and near Nakoma. I knew where it was so I knew we had plenty of time. He told us if we wanted to have a lunch break to take it now on the way to the classroom.
I gathered my stuff and headed out to get something to eat. I didn’t think much of this shooting exam. If someone couldn’t hit the targets we were shooting at from the distances we stood, then they shouldn’t have a gun in their hands, ever! I know most self defense will be at close range, but really, this was in-close shooting.
I got to the Wetmore Shooting Sports building with some difficulty since the building wasn’t marked in any way. It’s just a gray building with a lot of cars parked around it. I knew the address so that was the only way I knew for sure that I had the right building. I got to the very small classroom as probably the last person to arrive, but they hadn’t started yet so that wasn’t a problem.
In this class we learned all about the current Texas laws concerning carrying a firearm. We also learned the consequences of carrying a weapon without a license, the places where you cannot legally carry and what you should do if approached by a law enforcement officer. Most of this stuff was kind of common sense, although some required us to know which laws were applicable and what they really meant. We didn’t have to memorize anything, but were told when something might be testable.
The classroom got pretty warm since it was really small and there were quite a group of us. I think we had about 20 people in the class plus the instructor. Speaking of him, I wouldn’t really trust this guy to know his right from left just looking at him. I think he’s been doing this so much that most of the stuff he knows, but just some of the stories he tried to tell with him as the “star” were definitely not believable and I don’t think really happened. Overall, it was pretty boring material and not very well taught.
At the last, we had a lawyer come in from the Texas Law Shield organization. He was telling us about the legal problems people who carry can get into even though they have done nothing really wrong. His organization is a group of lawyers that stand ready to represent anyone who becomes a member of Texas Law Shield. They provide a lawyer free of charge to members who have a need for one in relation to their license to carry. He said that even pulling your weapon out at a proper time could result in a law suite against you which they will provide your defense. You pay a $11 per month membership and get quite a lot of emergency services. I signed up for it right away.
After that, the Instructor or Range Master gave us a brief cram for the test. We just about went over every question that would be on the exam and we all made sure we knew the correct answers.
Then came the written exam. It lasted about 30 minutes. It wasn’t difficult since every one of the questions had been answered in class just five minutes before. I’m not saying they give you the answers, but it was pretty obvious that no one was going to flunk this test. It’s a multiple choice quiz with one answer so stupid that it can be thrown out automatically. The other possible answers are either clearly wrong or you just didn’t listen. I think there were about 50 questions. After that, the exams were graded and everyone in the room passed. I, personally, didn’t miss a question, although I’m wasn’t so sure about some of my answers.
Ok, so we have now passed the shooting and a written test. Now we get our paperwork. The main item was a certificate signed by the Range Master or the person certified by the State to confirm we had passed all the necessary actions required to be issued a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). Since 1 Jan 2016, that has changed to a Licenses to Carry since the Open Carry Law makes conceal carry a non-issue in Texas.
I think this whole licensing process is ridiculous. Both parts of the test are so simple, anyone could pass without much effort. I doubt anyone really learned anything during the classroom portion. I think we really just paid the certified instructor for a certificate because that’s what is required to get a license. There was nothing that indicated if we really knew how to handle a weapon safely or otherwise. If you were to ask the people in my class any questions about what was covered in the class 10 minutes after it was over, I doubt they could remember anything important. I know I couldn’t. It really was a waste of time.
With my signed certificate in hand, I had to provide a set of fingerprints, and pay $25 to the State of Texas. Fortunately, all this could be done on-line. I made an appointment with the fingerprinting place on Blanco and went and got that done about a week after my class. I then filed my application, paid my fee, and mailed in my certificate. The fingerprints were automatically sent in when they were done. Next, I waited.
It took less than a month to get my license. I took the class on 27 Jun and on 25 Jul, I received the license in the mail. That wasn’t too bad. So now I can legally carry a loaded firearm anywhere I want in the State of Texas. The question is, “Will I?”. So far, I’ve answered that with a, “Yes!”. I didn’t start right away, but gradually started doing it as I got additional pistols and the equipment needed to safely carry them. I am now carrying on a daily basis and will continue to do so. There’s no reason I shouldn’t since I did what I was required to do. It’s my right to do so.