(photo credit goaimhi.com)

I have just returned from a weekend teaching the Illinois Concealed Carry Permit 16-hour course, and would like to scratch out a few words on what to expect if you decide to enroll in a similar course.

Going into the days before the class, I had to gather printed handouts, training manuals, touch up PowerPoints and pack up lots of targets. I was not aware the students were preparing too.

Some of them bought new guns to bring to class. Others practiced shooting. Others considered whether they should bring notebooks or laptops to take notes.

They all worried about being able to pass the shooting qualification test or being embarrassed in front of other shooters. If you are worried too, don’t be. I was aware everyone was nervous, so in the opening couple of sentences I told them (a) there were not going to be any written quizzes or tests in this course, and (b) I had every confidence each of them would be able to hit the target the requisite number of times per the State of Illinois regulations.

To reaffirm this notion, I then unfolded a regulation B-27 target…it is huge. People started to understand. It is about the size of two pizza boxes. Then I held the target at 5 yards, 7 yards and 10 yards, the required qualification distances and asked, “Can you hit a target this large at a maximum 30 feet?”

I would like to encourage you to go ahead and take a Concealed Carry Class if you have been mulling it over. Everyone has their own motivations to take the class. The most reoccurring theme voiced by the students in this class were the violent crime rates in Illinois. They hear the Chicago slaughter numbers on the radio and TV daily and hear of the other big cities in this end of the state having similar outrages. Rockford, the Quad Cities, Peoria and Champaign-Urbana have garnered their own reputations for violent crime.

The second most occurring theme for the class, was a suspicion with the way the state is going under ultra-liberal agenda, their Second Amendment rights were being trampled and may disappear altogether.
Here are some tips for you as a student if you decide to sign up for concealed carry class:

The Illinois requirements are mostly classroom work with a shooting qualification at the end.
Safety is paramount. If you are worried, ask the question or stop someone else. I charged all the students in this class up front as Safety Officers. “Everybody is responsible for safety here. If you see something unsafe you have full permission to call it out.” The instructor can’t be everywhere or see everything all the time.

It should obvious that no alcohol is permitted before or during class, but I know instructors who had to kick out students who showed up for the first day who were drinking in the parking lot!

Know the 4 rules of gun safety in advance and observe them when handling your gun.

1. Treat every gun as if it was loaded.

2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

3. Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to shoot or destroy

4. Be aware of your backstops and beyond.

Muzzle control inside a classroom or on the range is critical. The Glock training people came up with a laser meme I like. “Believe your gun muzzle has a laser beam coming out of the end of the barrel all the time. That laser can destroy or cut off anything it crosses. Do not swipe the laser across yourself or others.”

Items to bring to the class- a pistol and a means to reload it (at least one magazine or revolver speed loader.) Ensure your gun is unloaded before placing it into an enclosed case. Double or triple check it is unloaded. Visually and physically inspect the chamber and magazine area or cylinder. When I say physically inspect, I mean put your finger into the chamber hole (some areas are not well lit, and you might not see brass in the chamber.) Look away, clear your mind, then do it again- visually and physically ensure the pistol is empty.
At the class, do not display or pull out your pistol unless told to by the instructor.

A holster is not required, but if you do have a holster, bring it along in case the instructor is willing to help you learn to draw and re-holster safely.

There is no specific requirement for what type or caliber gun you must bring. Several students qualified with .22 pistols. The others had a 10mm, two .45 ACP’s, some 9mm’s and a couple of revolvers in .38 Special and one giant Colt Anaconda in .44 magnum with an 8-inch barrel. (At 5 yards there was a chance the huge .44 would set the paper target on fire or knock the target holder completely over! Nah..)

Bring eye protection, hearing protection and a cleaning kit or at least an appropriate cleaning rod, some patches and some gun oil. One of the topics the state wants you to experience is how to properly and safely clean your pistol then dispose of the cleaning materials. It would be good to know how to disassemble your pistol before showing up for the class. In my recent class I was very surprised several people did not know how to disassemble let alone properly lubricate their weapons.

Bring Ammunition. The qualification course is only 30 rounds. Bring at least double that amount in case you need to shoot the course more than once, and I would recommend bringing at least 150 rounds in case there is time to shoot more under instructor supervision. Ammunition is to be stored separately from your pistol and is generally not even allowed in a classroom. Safety first.
Bring snacks/lunch and drinks. The 16-hour course is usually 8 hours on a Saturday and 8 on a Sunday. Bring your own supplies to keep yourself hydrated and alert.
Bring a pen and small notebook to take notes or write down good ideas. The instructor should provide training materials, but they are not uniform. Each teacher provides their own material.

Back when Illinois first started authorizing Concealed Carry Permits, I looked around and found most of the available published materials which were Illinois specific were absolute crap! So, I wrote my own training manual and have updated it a couple of times. “Concealed Carry Basics- 2023 Illinois Edition” by Mike Keleher is 200 + pages based upon my state approved 16-hour class curriculum and is available in print from Amazon and Lulu.com and a digital edition is available via Amazon exclusively. Don’t worry about me getting a profit…I get less than a dollar for less for each copy sold! Amazon on the other hand makes out like a bandit!

When your class is complete, you can make an application for a carry permit via the State Police website using only your cell phone or a tablet. In fact, before we finished the class this weekend, every student was able to get an Illinois specific screen name and password, then log on to the ISP application site, fill out the questions, upload a digital photograph and a picture of their freshly signed Certificate of Training and pay for the application via a credit card. The whole process took just a few minutes.

Illinois has an option in the application process for you to submit a set of your fingerprints from a state licensed vendor along with your application, and says they will hurry your application along quicker than them having to go research whether your prints are on file. Sending your fingerprints is not a mandatory step and this caused some questions from students. The state by law has to issue or deny your application within 120 days with or without your fingerprints and lack of prints cannot be used as a basis to deny an application.

3 thoughts on “What To Expect If You Take a Concealed Carry Class”
  1. Mike, thanks for the info and perspective of an instructor, I have a few questions about a renewal CCW, my finances are VERY limited/tight, am considering not getting my CCW renewed because of that. Am wondering how much a renewal course would cost and what the state charges for a renewal, current permission card is good until July, Would like to take the full 16h course as a refresher, but finances will limit me, had 1 renewal @ $50, think the state cost was around $150? 5 or so years ago?
    Anyway, thanks for any info you can reply with.

  2. Each instructor sets their price for the 3 hour renewal course.
    Being it is a much shorter course the fee is usually much lower than you paid for the original 16 hour course. The $50 fee you paid for your first renewal sounds about right to me.

    CCW cards are good for 5 years and the state still charges $150 to renew. Hope you don’t forgo the renewal.
    The Illinois State Police website has a good Frequently Asked Questions section for both the CCW and FOID cards if you ever have any other questions….or hit me up at mjkeleher@yahoo.com

    The state of Illinois was the very last state in the nation to allow/forced to allow concealed carry, and thus they made it the hardest, most onerous and most expensive of any state…and they still don’t recognize other state permits.

    1. Yeah, now we need national reciprocity but ILL-Annoy will fight it because of some states having “Constitutional Carry” (aka: no “permit card”)

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