Aspen man promotes firearm safety through training
After years of noticing “inadequate” firearm training and usage in the Roaring Fork Valley, Aspen resident Brandon Toomey hoped to become part of some solution.
In 2014, Toomey single-handedly started a local firearm-training business, Perceptive Strategics, with the goal of promoting “intelligent gun ownership through responsible training.”
As of Thursday, Pitkin County has issued 518 concealed-carry permits to residents, according to Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office manager Heather Nelson.
The number of applications tends to spike with national situations like mass shootings and political races, Nelson said.
She recalled a distinct increase in the number of county residents applying for concealed-carry permits during both the 2008 presidential election as well as in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.
The state of Colorado, in addition to allowing residents to obtain a concealed-carry permit, has an open-carry law for firearms.
Toomey said he believes that the state course to obtain a concealed-carry permit lacks hands-on training but said that it is the responsibility of gun owners to properly educate themselves.
“Some people just don’t understand the core fundamentals of owning a firearm and how to carry the gun,” Toomey said. “So I’m trying to change that.”
Toomey starts with the basics in his introductory course, from the laws of the land to the six rules of gun presentation: stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger and follow-through.
He also teaches the importance of four general firearm-safety policies:
• Treat all guns as if they are always loaded.
• Keep your finger off the trigger until you are willing to fire.
• Keep your gun pointed in the safest direction at all times.
• Know your target and what’s beyond it.
In addition to “handgun 101” instruction, Perceptive Strategics also offers a concealed carry course.
While Toomey’s firearm training is certified through the National Rifle Association, he said he does not teach its same curriculum.
Toomey said he incorporates knowledge from other reputable instructors and also tailors his courses to meet individual students’ needs.
With a family and full-time job outside his firearm-training business, Toomey said the majority of courses that he’s instructed so far have been private lessons.
Most of Perceptive Strategics’ clientele learned about the business through word-of-mouth, he said, noting that he has yet to formally advertise.
Toomey, who also works as a property manager in the valley, said he intends to grow the business and would love to make it a full-time endeavor at some point.
In September, he plans to start a group class that consists solely of women.
“Women are the largest growing demographic in the gun community,” Toomey said, adding that “the interest for training has been close to 50-50 (men and women) in the valley.”
Toomey welcomes anyone — men, women and especially anti-firearm folks — to take a course with him.
“I want to show a person, let me take you out, show you why we care about firearms and the importance of it for our country,” he said.
By educating people on proper firearm training and safety, Toomey also hopes to help destigmatize some of the negative views toward firearms.
“It’s similar to politics,” Toomey said. “Our country is so polarized you generally don’t get anywhere having the discussion.”
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