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Missouri Department of Conservation to offer virtual handgun course on Sept. 20

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 8:47 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield Department of Conservation is offering a virtual handgun safety course for beginners on Sept. 20.

The Department of Conservation says the program is for those who are new to handguns but want to learn how to handle and shoot them safely. MDC also says the class will help other users feel more at ease using them if they are currently uncomfortable or unsure when using handguns.

Whether it is practice on the range, or extra protection at home, there is always a need for proper gun safety, training and understanding.

”Anytime you’re going to handle a firearm, there are certain safety requirements and rules that they should try to follow,” said Mike Brooks, MDC Outdoor Education Center Manager at the Andy Dalton Shooting Range.

Over the course of the pandemic, many more people have purchased guns, particularly handguns. And these days many ranges are seeing quite a few new shooters. MDC is offering the virtual handgun course to get those new firearm users and owners caught up.

Brooks said MDC’s virtual training programs and classes have expanded opportunities for the agency. He said those virtual courses have allowed more people to be involved. The virtual classes came about during the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, you miss out on the hands on portion of the training,” he said. “But you can still get a lot of valuable information, a lot of valuable training education, the knowledge that you need to be able to safely handle the guns. It opens up some doors for people to attend programs from far away places.”

Brooks said new handgun owners should follow three crucial safety tips.

”Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction,” he said. “Number two, keep the gun unloaded until you’re actually ready to fire the gun. And number three, keep your finger off the trigger until you’re actually on the target ready to fire the pistol.”

KY3 spoke to a few new shooters at the Andy Dalton Shooting Range about their experience.

”I probably started around the beginning of last year,” said Ethan Chesnut. “Kind of like right in the middle or tail-end of the pandemic.”

Chesnut has been getting some practice in with friends, both on riffles and handguns. He said he is looking to buy a gun soon.

”I really like shooting handguns,” Chesnut said. “I definitely think it’s a decent skill to have. It’s a fun skill to have as well.”

Chesnut said he knows more about guns now than he did a few months ago. He also understands the importance of learning the ropes.

“That goes with any firearm, even if it’s just a 22 or anything like that,” he said. “You always want to make sure you’re operating it safe.”

If you are interested in participating in the the virtual course on Sept. 20, you can sign up online.

“I strongly encourage people to go out and seek training, whether that is on a virtual platform or whether that’s like here, on an in person, face to face program that we do,” Brooks said.

MDC is also offering an “in-person course” for new firearms owners on September 25th at the Andy Dalton Shooting Range. It is also offering a free round of shooting, which lasts one hour, to visitors on that date in celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day.

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