Where are classes held?

Unless arrangements have been made for a private event, classes are held at one of two locations:

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When are your classes held?

We typically hold CPL classes the 3rd Saturday of each month. However, that can change for a variety of reasons. Refer to our class schedule here.

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How much do CPL classes cost and how do I pay?

Due to the overhead costs required to run each class, pre-payment is required to reserve your seat. After completing the Registration Request form, you will have the option to submit payment via PayPal or a major credit card. Refer to our Pricing page for more information.

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How can I register for a class?

To sign up for a class, complete the registration request form here. After submitting the form, follow the instructions to pay for the class.

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What is the difference between CPL and CCW?

Some states refer to a concealed carry permit as a “Concealed Carry Weapon” or “CCW” license. In Michigan, this permit is called a “Concealed Pistol License” or “CPL,” and “CCW” refers to section 750.227 of the state penal code used to charge offenders who carry a concealed firearm without a permit. A CCW conviction is a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $2,500.00. If you’re still confused, think of it this way: Responsible gun owners in Michigan who want to carry a concealed firearm must obtain a CPL to avoid a CCW charge.

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Why don’t you schedule the classroom presentation and shooting qualification on the same day?

There are a few good reasons for structuring CPL training this way. First, there are no public shooting ranges in Kalamazoo county that allow large groups of people to shoot. We use a private club for range qualification and membership rules impose strict requirements on the number of guests who can accompany a member at any given time. So, we have no choice but to schedule students in small groups.

Second, not all students are experienced shooters. In fact, many do not yet own a handgun and rely upon information presented in the class to make an educated decision about their first firearm purchase.

Finally, after sitting in a classroom for 6 hours, most people are tired – fatigue and potentially inexperienced shooters are not a good combination on the range. To ensure everyone’s safety, we feel it’s best to give students time to digest what they’ve learned and the opportunity to come to the shooting range well-rested and ready to focus.

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Do you provide lunch?

Your class fee does not include lunch. However, the Air Zoo provides an onsite café which offers a wide range of healthy and affordable lunch and snack items. There is also a beverage service in the classroom.

Since the Air Zoo is a non-profit organization and relies upon ticket sales, concessions and donations to remain viable, they respectfully request that students do not bring food or beverages into the facility. (Water bottles are allowed.)

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What should I bring to class?

To ensure everyone’s safety, we ask that you do NOT bring a firearm to class. Aside from a notepad and pen, we will provide everything you need.

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What should I bring to the shooting range?

  • Firearm: You will obviously need a firearm. If you do not yet own one, you may rent one from us for a nominal fee which includes up to 100 rounds of ammunition. You must make prior arrangements with your instructor if you would like to rent one of our guns.
  • Eye and Ear Protection: All students must wear approved eye and ear protection at the range. Prescription glasses and sunglasses are considered acceptable eye protection as long as they have shatterproof lenses. Ear muffs and plugs can be purchased at most gun shops and sporting goods stores. We highly recommend electronically-enhanced ear protection because it filters out harmful frequencies while still allowing you to hear normal conversation. Howard Leight Impact Sport earmuffs are an excellent choice and can be purchased for less than $50.
  • Baseball-Style Hat: A hat with a bill is recommended to help deflect spent casings away from your face.
  • $5 Cash: If you are not a member of the gun club, guests are asked to pay a $5 guest fee.

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Can I legally transport a handgun in my vehicle without a valid CPL?

Yes, but there are very specific rules you must follow. There are three important things to remember about transporting a handgun before receiving your CPL:

  1. The gun must be unloaded before moving it to your vehicle – for semi-automatics, than means no round in the chamber, and the magazine removed. For revolvers, all cartridges must be removed from the cylinder.
  2. The gun and magazine/ammunition must be in separated. The gun should be in a locked case and stowed in the trunk (or rear-most compartment in a truck, van, or SUV); the magazines and ammunition must be in a different vehicle compartment, clearly separated from the gun.
  3. Without a CPL you are NOT authorized to transport someone else’s handgun in your vehicle unless the owner is riding with you.

Remember, transporting a loaded handgun is considered “concealed carry.” Do so without a CPL is considered a felony. Please take these rules seriously.

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What is the process for obtaining my CPL after completing training?

Upon successfully completion of the class and shooting qualification, you will receive a certificate that confirms you’ve met all Michigan CPL training requirements. From here, there are three more steps required to obtain your CPL:

  1. Download and complete the Michigan CPL application form (RI-012). Instructions and the form are available here.
  2. Go to your local County Clerk’s office to submit your completed application. If you live in Kalamazoo, the County Administration building is located downtown at 201 W. Kalamazoo Ave, across from the bus and train station. The County Clerk’s office will ask to see your training certificate, and collect the $100 fee. Make your check payable to the County Clerk. You will be given a paid receipt which you will need for the next step.
  3. Go to the law enforcement agency or other location designated by your county government for fingerprinting. You will be required to present your paid receipt from the County Clerk’s office and pay a $15 fingerprinting fee. In Kalamazoo County, there are two locations designated for CPL fingerprinting:
    • Kalamazoo Township Police Department, 1720 Riverview Drive (appointment is required)
    • Western Michigan University Department of Public Safety, 511 Monroe Street (walk-in requests welcome during normal business hours)

Your CPL should arrive in the mail in 2-4 weeks. In rare circumstances, the process can take longer. If you have not received your card within 45 days of fingerprinting, your paid receipt from the County Clerk will serve as your temporary permit until you receive your card.

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Does my CPL expire? When? How do I renew it?

According to Michigan law, “a license to carry a concealed pistol … is valid until the applicant’s date of birth that falls not less than 4 years or more than 5 years after the license is issued or renewed.” You should get a reminder in the mail. You can renew no earlier than six months before expiration, and no later than the expiration date. If you allow the permit to lapse, you must reapply and repeat the 8-hour training requirement.

Effective November 30, 2018, Michigan CPL holders can renew online at: www.michigan.gov/CPLrenewal. Online renewal requires a personal identification number (PIN). If your renewal notification letter does not contain a PIN, you can request a new letter directly from the county clerk.

If desired, CPL holders can also renew their license in-person at the county clerk’s office. The application and instructions for renewing by mail are available at www.michigan.gov/firearms.

The renewal fee is $115 (payable to the County Clerk, and delivered to the County Clerk office). No fingerprinting is required.

You must sign a statement indicating you have completed at least three hours of a pistol safety training course and has at least 1 hour of live-fire range time in the 6 months immediately preceding the renewal application. Family 1st Defense offers a CPL renewal class that meets these requirements. We will give you a signed CPL Refresher Course letter that you can keep with your CPL records in the event you are audited.

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Does my CPL allow me to carry in other states?

Several states in the US support “constitutional carry” — meaning anyone who can legally possess a firearm can carry. Most other states that allow concealed carry have “reciprocity” with Michigan — these states will honor your right to carry, as long as you observe their specific rules.

A handful of states have very restrictive handgun laws and do NOT recognize a carry permit from any state.

The USCCA Interactive Reciprocity Map  shows the states (in blue) that honor your CPL and those that do not (in red). The map also provides a summary of concealed carry law for each state.

Although a blue state may allow you to carry a concealed handgun, they may special requirements that you must observe — rules that may differ from those in your home state. Educate yourself before you travel.

Furthermore, since gun laws frequently change at the state level, don’t assume you are necessarily familiar with a state’s concealed carry laws based upon previous research. Penalties can be severe for violating concealed carry laws. Therefore it’s a good idea to double-check the rules prior to future trips to any state.

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What should I do if I have an encounter with law enforcement while carrying my firearm(s)?

If you are stopped by a police officer — in your vehicle or otherwise — while carrying a firearm, you must verbally disclose this fact to the officer and you must do so immediately. Remember that the officer may already know you are a CPL holder, particularly if he or she has queried your license plate. For that reason, it is strongly recommended you do not reach for your wallet and/or vehicle registration until asked.

If your encounter is a traffic stop while driving, put both hands on the steering wheel at the “10” and “2” positions as the officer approaches and leave them there until instructed to do otherwise. For all other scenarios, keep your hands at your side or folded in front of you so the officer can clearly see them.

The first words out of your mouth should be something like this:

I need to tell you that I am a concealed carry permit holder and that I currently have a few holstered sidearms (on my person, in my vehicle, etc.). I’m ready to do whatever you need me to do, and I’m not going to do anything until you tell me to do it.

Your statement may be slightly different to fit your situation but you get the idea. Avoid using the word “gun” as this can evoke a sense of alarm if the officer is already tense — “firearm,” “sidearm,” or “pistol” are much better choices. Your speech should be clear and your demeanor calm. Speak slowly, at normal conversational volume.

Upon the hearing officer’s instructions, follow them to the letter, moving slowly and deliberately. Do not expect a polite response from the officer. You may be asked to exit the vehicle and even be handled roughly. Again, remain calm. This is not the time to get into a heated discussion. If you feel you’re treated unjustly, you can make your case later.

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What is the best concealed carry pistol?

The best pistol to carry is the one you can shoot. What works well for one person can be the absolute worst option for another. It’s very common for gun enthusiasts to rave about their favorite handgun and caliber, then recommend it to everyone else. Since you cannot return a gun for a refund, always do your homework before making a purchase based on your Uncle Henry’s advice. Visit a local gun shop to handle and operate as many firearms as possible. Can you pull the trigger? Can you rack the slide? Does it fit well in your hand? Will the gun accommodate your carry style? Of course, if possible, it’s always best to try before you buy. A few shops in the area will allow you to rent demos and shoot them on their private shooting range.

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