GRANDFIELD, OK (KSWO) -A tactical training facility in Grandfield, Oklahoma, is helping current and prospective concealed carry holders in the name of protecting themselves and those around them.
Over the span of two days, the 16-hour course gives students a better awareness of the enormous responsibility they bear when deciding to arm themselves with a gun. The responsibility is compounded if they're ever faced with the split-second decision to use deadly force.
7News anchor Sylvia Corkill took the course and passed, this is her story.
After getting patted down, suited up and briefed by instructors, 7News anchor Sylvia Corkill walked into the unknown. In the simulated exercise, she was walking to her car when she was ambushed. In a panic she fumbled for her gun, only to later realize she made the wrong decision.
In this case, instructors say the best chance of survival would have been to give the robber exactly what they wanted. They also say the situation could have been avoided altogether by being more aware of your surroundings.
While she only suffered a few minor cuts and bruises in the scenario, it's likely that she wouldn't have lived to tell the tale in real life.
Corkill was shot twice in her own apartment after a panicked woman came barreling through the front door with her armed boyfriend close behind. While she was able to fire off a shot, she hesitated and was even when backed into a corner, something instructors say could have cost her life.
In another exercise, she finally prevailed after an armed person demanded her money at an ATM and she quickly complied. Instead of reaching for her gun, she opted to give up the money and run.
She was able to walk away from these threatening scenarios each time. Badlands instructor Shawn Strange says in real life, armed or not, survival is never a guarantee.
"When you just get the concealed carry, it's kind of like just getting your yellow belt in karate, you learn just enough to get beat to death," Strange said.
That's why training is imperative. While a gun is in fact a weapon, instructors emphasize it's also a tool. A tool that is useless unless you know how it functions and how to operate it.
Richard Johnson, one of the instructors at Badlands, has 28 years of law enforcement under his belt and discourages anyone from buying a gun only to forget about it.
"Shooting is a perishable skill, there are a lot of motor functions things that have to be done in the right sequence to shoot effectively and accurately, with any skill it will degrade over time," Johnson said.
Instructors encourage continued training in the classroom and at the range. They hope the skills you hone are never employed unless deadly force is an absolute.
"That's the crux of the class. There are most always other options, of course we don't want to go too far the other way that they're hesitant to use that firearm in their self-defense if they choose to. We don't want to make using that gun the only thing that's going to happen in the incident, because you're then locked into it," Johnson said.
"Just because we wear a gun, doesn't mean we have to use the gun," Strange said. "Is it worth me dying for, is someone stealing my vehicle where I want to draw that line and die for that pickup? Where is that line?
When it comes to taking a life, even if it is justified, it's something Badlands founder and Tillman County Sheriff Bobby Whittington says isn't that easy to do. He says there's no true victor in bloodshed.
"People have a difficulty in taking a human life, and it will bother them later on," Sheriff Whittington said.
He says it's a decision that will haunt most people emotionally for the rest of lives, and the toll can be far greater.
"They can have lawsuits, they can be criminally charged, it could bring problems upon their family and associates, most people don't know that," Sheriff Whittington said.
The number of Americans exercising their right to carry concealed guns has exploded from less than one million a few decades ago to as many as 11 million today. While there's evidence that gun prevalence can deter crime, that uptick in numbers also has its consequences.
"We become complacent with a firearm. We have the potential…taking somebody's life that we didn't mean to. That didn't need to have that taken against them," Johnson said.
"They didn't put themselves in that deadly situation, it was brought to them," Sheriff Whittington said.
"What would we do, we have to start that thinking before that minute happens, that second we can't back up," Strange said.
Instructors say not every fight has to turn into a gunfight simply because you're armed. They say chance, more often than not, determines the victor.
If you would like to learn more about the tactical classes offered, including this one, contact Sheriff Whittington by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.