In the months ahead of the Illinois State Police posting instructor and course approvals on their website, there were a handful of companies falsely (and unlawfully) advertising Illinois “Approved” or “Certified” classes on the internet and in hand-outs sometimes found at local gun stores.

Guns Save Life’s online blog publicized the deceptive advertisements from a couple of these companies, and not all of them appreciated it.

Legal action threatened

Equip 2 Conceal, a seven-year-old company operating from a private mailbox in a UPS Store in Clearwater, Florida, took umbrage at GSL publicizing their deceptive course promotion.

Their president, Rob Shewmake, threatened legal action against Guns Save Life for calling them out on their fraudulent ads claiming to have classes available “at this time” in a host of Illinois communities, including “Champagne”.



Another example: “Illinois Concealed Carry” Training Course.
Hours of this course counting towards the new Illinois law when the ad was originally published in early September: maybe 8 of 16. Maybe.


New training schools

New training schools are popping up faster than mushrooms in the spring.  While prospective applicants may not be able to have the luxury to pick and choose who they train with because of a shortage of training slots, it would be best if you could get some personal recommendations or referrals from trusted friends or relatives to help better ensure you’ll enjoy a safe and pleasant training experience.

Photo from one of the newer training group websites.  What could possibly go wrong here, right?   Click for full size.

The quality of instructors will vary from company to company.  Many of the newly approved Illinois instructors are very recently certified, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as everyone has to start somewhere.  However, your training experience is likely to be richer and more enjoyable with good, experienced instructors who have been doing this type of civilian training for years, as opposed to weeks or months.

Some of the newer companies are stressing their trainers’ experience in the military and law enforcement in an effort to recruit customers.  Here’s an example:

… instructors are experienced operators from the prestigious United States Army Special Forces, Navy SEALS, Marine Special Operations (Force Recon), and Local, State, and Federal Law Enforcement SWAT Team members.

Frankly, folks, just because someone might have been a fill-in-the-blank high-speed, low-drag “operator” doesn’t mean they can teach you, Joe and Jane Sixpack well.  If they can’t point to successful experience training everyday civilians in civilian self-defense, you might be well to keep looking.  After all, training should be enjoyable, not a boot-camp experience.  It’s also worth noting that battlefield or law-enforcement rules of engagement are very different than what you need in the towns and cities of Illinois.

Do your background check homework

Before September 30th, it was easy to discern who the potentially fraudulent promoters were because there were no training courses approved by the ISP at that time.

With dozens of courses soon-to-be approved, you should carefully scrutinize the list at the Illinois State Police web site.  Be positively sure the course you are enrolling in is indeed approved and that at least one of the instructors teaching is an approved instructor, as listed on the ISP web site.

Should you enroll in a class lacking the state’s good graces in terms of curriculum or instructors, you may not be able to count it towards the sixteen hours of training the Prairie State is requiring for a carry license.  If the company hosting the class is an out-of-state company, it may be doubly difficult to get any satisfaction from them as well, especially if you don’t discover you spent your money on a fraud until weeks or months later.

The ISP web site’s Concealed Carry web page can be found at:

Also, be sure to check out the Guns Save Life article:


Finding the right (quality) firearm training program for you

Here at Guns Save Life.  Click here for the story.

4 thoughts on “Buyer Beware: Do your homework before registering for a Illinois Concealed Carry Class”
  1. John,

    My name is Al Gonzalez and I am President of Protective Firearms Institute (PFI). On September 27, 2013, you blogged an article titled “Buyer Beware…Illinois CCW.” In it you posted a copy of one of our Facebook postings for proposed Ill CCW curriculum and erroneously commented that we were advertising that PFI had an approved curriculum and were preparing for CCW classes.

    I believe you may have misread our posting. The requirements listed were from those posted earlier on the ISP website. They have been revised but include what I listed (shorter version). They can be found on the ISP -CCW- FAQ section, under “What does firearms training course consist of”. No where in this posting did we say or insinuate that we “had’ an approved course or that we were beginning any type of classes. If you re-read it, you’ll see that we posted what we were gathering from ISP and we wanted to let our followers know that we were starting a class list for those interested in being one of the first to attend our CCW class, ONCE it begins (after Jan. 2014) and once ISP had approved our submitted curriculum.

    While I understand that as a blogger you are not obligated to follow standard journalistic protocol of verifying your reported information, I feel that your article painted PFI as practicing deceptive advertising. While I do not wish to engage in legalistic maneuvering, I am asking that you review our posting, again, and possibility considering re-tracking or revising your posting to exclude the PFI Facebook posting. I commend your oversight on the bad practices of the few, but PFI is not include on that list. The firearms industry is already under fire by the commercial media and we need to work together to help all good practitioners, of which PFI is considered as one.

    Thank you for your time and re-consideration.
    Al Gonzalez.

    1. We take Mr. Gonzalez at his word and retract our comments about PFI from this story. See a later blog entry.

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