Toni Becker - At Home On The Range

Mar 03, 2013

With all the talk and heated debate around the subject of guns today, I developed an interest and curiosity I never had before. As a mom of two teenage boys who love to hunt on the family farm where we live, I decided that I owe it to them to become more knowledgeable about the handling of guns.

Guns made me nervous and I knew the apprehension stemmed from a tragic story from my high school days. The lazy summer of my 16th year was shattered by the news that two brothers, a year apart in age and both good friends of mine, were target shooting on their farm and my classmate’s gun caused the death of his brother. The horror of the experience still weighed heavy on me and I thought it was about time that I replaced the fear with knowledge and new experiences going forward.

A good friend, Jim Akers, owns and operates a local firearms training company with Ryan Thurman, called Patriot Training Academy, LLC. Both Jim and Ryan have impeccable career qualifications being law enforcement firearms instructors for Missouri Sheriff’s Academy, Butler Co. Sheriff’s office, Poplar Bluff P.D., Missouri Coroners, and several other agencies in S. E. Missouri. The company has been around for over five years and has trained thousands of individuals in firearm handling, safety and security. Proudly, I became a student of Patriot Training Academy just this weekend.

The Concealed Carry Class was held at the Black River Coliseum. It began promptly at 8 am and I was heading home from the shooting range with my test target and certification form later in the afternoon. The class was well-attended by around 25 participants with experience ranging from blank slate (that’d be me) to, say, the guy two targets down from me at the firing range who never once strayed from the bullseye. The reasons for taking the class ranged from personal protection to concerns about recent talk of federal gun bans. As a complete novice I was made to feel very comfortable both in the classroom and shooting range setting where we were instructed in:

  • Handgun safety in the classroom, home, firing range and carrying the firearm.
  • How to safely load and unload a revolver and semiautomatic pistol and demonstrate marksmanship with both.
  • The basic principles of marksmanship.
  • Care and cleaning of concealable firearms.
  • Safe storage of firearms at home.
  • The Missouri requirements for obtaining a concealed carry endorsement.
  • The laws relating to firearms.
  • The laws relating to the justifiable use of force.
  • A live firing exercise at a firing range where I could practice loading, firing, and reloading from a standing position, a minimum of 50 rounds from a distance of seven yards at a silhouette target.
  • A live fire test under scrutiny of an instructor of 20 rounds from a standing position at a seven-yard distance from a silhouette target.

Whew!! I went from having a nervous feeling about firearms to really enjoying the training and firing a Sig Sauer .22 Pistol and Smith and Wesson .22 Small Frame Revolver in just eight hours where I emerged with my target test sheet and a Firearms Safety Training Course Certificate.

Also on hand to assist in the training course were T.J. Akers, Firearms Instructor and Poplar Bluff City Police K9 Officer, as well as Jim Akers Sr., retired former Federal Police Officer/MP who was Range Safety Officer. Though the class was large and diverse, I had personal assistance all day. At the end of the course I felt a great sense of accomplishment and welcomed a new mental script about guns to replace the tragic one from my past. I thought about stealing that sharp shooter’s silhouette target sheet to take home and really freak out my sons but I felt just as comfortable showing them that their mom had it in her, perhaps, to one day become a pretty darn good shot.

I highly recommend this course offered by Patriot Training Academy. Weapons are available for loan, the cost is competitive and a great value, the instruction is personal and comprehensive and targeted to your needs whether novice or expert, and classes are held weekly. Contact Jim Akers at 573-718-0839 or Ryan Thurman at 573-429-7979 or email at to enroll in an upcoming course. You will be very glad you did.

See you at the range!!!

  1. gun-totin' mama

    I and two of my friends just qualified for our CCW last Saturday–in the snow and freezing wind. I’ve handled and owned my own gun since age 10, so I had no trouble qualifying. However, one of my friends had never even held a gun before, but she was fantastic! Let’s just say, no one would ever walk out of her house alive! I highly recommend this class and Raymond Koch of Piedmont as instructor.