Forgive me for the snarky title.  I don’t mean it to be so obtuse sounding, but I feel that the idea of getting a carry permit these days, now that we are in the, “Shall Issue,” era, gives regular people a false sense of confidence in their abilities.  EXAMPLE:  let’s say that you and your favorite coworkers are standing around the water cooler Monday morning, and debriefing each other on the events of the past weekend.  That cut-up from IT, Herbert, is telling everyone about how his ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend has been threatening him with texts and emails, and telling Herb how he’s going to, “Get what’s coming to him.”  Herbert did the right thing…he called the police, filed a harassment complaint, filed for an order of protection from his ex AND her boyfriend, and now, now he’s thinking he needs to get a gun.  “I’ll get my carry permit and then I’ll be good to go if Irene’s awful boyfriend, Fritz, decides he’s going to come to my house to kill me.”  Oh Herbert, if only it were that easy.

The, “carry permit class,” as it is so commonly called, is exactly that…it’s a state-mandated (READ:  devised by politicians) to put a monetary hoop in front of the applicant, and also require them to pass a background check (including fingerprints) and take and pass both a written and practical (shooting) exam to demonstrate minimum proficiency.  Just like a, “driver’s test,” that we all had to take to get our driver’s license, that test (nor the driver’s education class) make you a, “good,” driver.  If anything, they teach you the basic rules of operation, and remind you that if you hit something with any degree of speed, that you’re going to hurt or kill yourself or someone else.  In the permit class, the goal is much the same…keep the fire-hole-end pointed in a safe direction, otherwise you’ll drill a hole in something you didn’t want to, or kill yourself or someone else.

Unfortunately, just like driver’s education and the subsequent driver’s test, that results in a driver’s license doesn’t prepare the novice driver for the rigors and dangers of city traffic, the carry permit class and subsequent written and practical test, doesn’t prepare the novice citizen for the rigors and dangers of defending oneself from human predators.  Even if you think it does!

The classroom lecture was taught by a retired OKC Police Officer, Kent Harville.  Kent is a Rangemaster Instructor Course graduate, and did a wonderful job of conveying the state mandated material, and intertwining it with a series of relevant stories from his experiences as a law enforcement officer, to bring home his points.  It made material that is important to know, yet very dry, interesting.  The course was held at the wonderful NASHVILLE ARMORY just off of the freeway (and incidentally, four minutes from my dental practice) of I-65 in Nashville Tennessee.  The Nashville Armory has been in business for a few years now, and they run a great, clean, modern facility with a helpful staff, and Kent taught the material with authority.

For the live-fire portion of the class, fifty (50) rounds were fired, in the following course of fire, on a reduced size (half size) B-27 type target.  If the entire, “X-ring,” was shot away, the winner would get a prize:

3 yards:  10 rounds on the fire command from the low ready

5 yards:  10 rounds on the fire command from the low ready

7 yards:  10 rounds on the fire command from the low ready

5 yards:  10 rounds on the fire command from the low ready

3 yards:  10 rounds on the fire command from the low ready

Not a difficult course of fire, by any means.  I shot the X ring away, but wouldn’t you know it, when the target was reeled in and laid flat, a tiny piece of the, “red,” x ring was still present, having been creased and folded over by the 9mm Federal ball I was shooting.  Next time, when doing the old, “Shoot away the red,” carnival trick, I’ll bring a wheelgun and some wadcutters.  That red will never know what hit it.


Going over the notes I took in the class, I gleaned the following:

  1. Revolvers…the instructor summed them up as, “Simple, but not easy.”  He said that they can be used by most anyone, however, they are not the ideal choice for beginners, especially in the Airweight or Scandium/Titanium configurations, because they are so abusive to the shooter
  2. The Golden Saber, .357 Magnum 125 Grain Jacketed Hollowpoint is a winner.  It shoots flat, and the recoil is managable in stainless steel guns.
  3. The course of fire gives a false sense of security (because it is really easy)  ALTHOUGH it DOES cover the range(s) at which MOST civilian self-defense shootings occur, that is, 3-7 yards (about the length of a car)
  4. The course (via a recorded DVD presentation) spent more time talking about the effects of alcohol and drugs on human physiology than it did on the principles of marksmanship.  This is unfortunate.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right…I ALREADY HAVE a Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit.


A permit class isn’t training…a permit class isn’t practice.  A permit class is the bare minimum information that state bureaucrats think you need to be able to safely load, unload and carry a pistol, in legal locations, in the state in which you reside.  If you want to actually LEARN how to use that gun, you’re going to need training.  You don’t have to look far on this site to find great places to train, that will actually prepare you for what you will really encounter on the streets and parking lots of America.  Even if you think you, “know all there is to know,” about defensive pistolcraft, shooting under the supervision of a competent instructor who can see things you cannot, relative to technique, is invaluable.  I highly recommend you seek out competent instruction…getting the, “paper,” is just a legal hoop you have to jump through!

8 thoughts on “The Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit Class…AKA you are now safe to load, unload, and carry around a pistol. And that’s about it…

  1. Each state has a different requirement…all the way from a few with “no” requirement other than being a lawful resident w/o a felony conviction, to states like NY where you must run a gauntlet of red-tape to obtain your permit. In None of the states is the course designed to prepare anyone for the dynamics and terror connected with a self-defense shooting situation…it remains incumbent upon the permitee to actively seek out advanced training. Sadly, most of the over 600 folks I certified in my home state never seek out additional training…their reasoning is multi-faceted: “[It] is unlikely to happen to me”…( then why obtain the license?)…” I don’t go out at night or to scary places”…Look at the Youtube video of the “Home Invasion, Milburn, NJ”…”I hit the target enough times to pass, so I must be good to go”…the reality is, if the handgun skills of my students were somehow translated into driving skills, I would not get in the car with them…if you are one of these “folks”…PLEASE do us all the favor of seeking out advanced training…the life you save may be your own, or your family’s.

  2. I recently turned away a prospective client who became very indignant at the length of my introductory carry permit class and that I wouldn’t just pencil whip him through as fast as possible.

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