Local women take proactive stance for personal safey; Gun safety class attracts more females

(Riverton, Wyo.) – “There are a lot of untrained people out there,” said former Riverton Police Captain and  and gun safety instructor  Mark Stone of Riverton. That’s a situation Stone said he would like to change. As Wyoming is now a “concealed/carry” state, meaning residents here can carry sidearms without a permit, Stone told a recent personal protection class that they “need to keep themsevles from being a victim. We live in a different world that we grew up in,” he said. “Random shootings happen every day, in schools, shopping malls or hospitals, and gun-free zones invite the bad guy in.” he said.

Unfortunately, Stone also said people who are not trained in proper gun use are liable to hurt themselves, or others. He pointed out two local and  very recent incidents in which one man shot himself in the foot and other gun handler who shot her partner in the leg while target practicing.

For twelve hours, eight in the classroom and four on a shooting range on three consecutive days, Stone instructed the students on the proper care and handling of their firearms and took the class through numerous simulations of what they could face in the real world and how to protect themselves.

With his recent classes filling up as fast as he announces them,  Stone said people mostly come for personal protection, and m any of those are first time gun owners.

In this particular class, one woman said she signed up after a harrowing experience driving between Riverton and Casper. She said another vehicle, occupied by men would pass her and then slow down. Aftershe passed them, they would repeat the maneuver. When she stopped at the first truck stop entering Casper, the men followed her, and then waited outside for her to reappear. Fortunately, she was able to avoid a confrontation, but the incident frightened her enough to purchase a firearm and then learn how to use it.

“You’ll never know when you’ll be in a position that someone thinks you are a victim,” Stone said after the woman related  her story. “This class is ab\all about keeping yourself from being a victim.”

In the four years that Stone has been teaching this class,  he’s had 420 people successfully complete the instruction. “60 to 65 percent of them have been women, they want to protect themselves and their children, when their husband or significant other is away,” he said.  Each successful participatant receives a letter from Stone attesting to their having attended and a certificate. Combined, the two documents can be used in obtaining a concealed carry permit, which is issued by the sheriff in each county.

A 20-year veteran of the Riverton Police Department, Stone retired as a Captain and has been teaching this class at Central Wyoming College using the firing range simulator at the Rural Justice Training Center there. “But I found that actually handing your firearm and shooting on a live range can’t be equalled. As a result, Stone now teaches his classes at the new Lakeside Gun Club just east of Kinnear. While the firing range there is still not complete, and won’t be until later this spring, the classroom instruction is held there and then the live shooting practice takes place at the Riverton Gun Club off of Smith Road.

A good part of Stone’s class is how to train oneself on good safety habits when handing their firearm. “Find a sidearm that you like and carry it all the time,” he said. “Always treat every gun as though it is loaded and make it safe. And always holster  your gun. It doesn’t do you any good if it’s not available.”

Stone ran the class members through how to aim using a proper stance, how and when to use the front sight focus, to keep both eyes open and keeping both  hands on the gun. He urged everyone in the class to practice scenarios of what they would do if they needed to protect themselves.

For information: 307-840-5503

NOTE – Managing Editor Ernie Over took this class last month and the above is his report of the activity.

Photos by Ernie Over, Click to enlarge