FPD Handgun Safety Class - Frequently Asked Questions

Effective November 12, 2016 the name of this course is changed from the Handgun Self-Defense Class which was offered in Levels I, II and III to the Florence Police Handgun Safety Class. 

The Handgun Safety Class is provided as a service to the community.  We normally schedule six classes a year on Saturday mornings.  The class will last from 6 to 8 hours, depending on the number of students in attendance.  The class schedule is posted on this web site and registration is conducted on-line through the attached link.

Who can attend?

US residents with a government issued ID.  We strongly recommend our students to apply for and receive a Concealed Carry Permit before you apply for the Handgun Safety Class.  If you do not have a concealed Carry Permit you will be required to present your driverís license or state ID card.  We will run a background check on you before the class begins and you must come back clear to be able to remain in the class.

How do I register and pay?

Registration for each scheduled class will open two weeks prior to the class date.  On-line registration will remain open until the class is filled and then will automatically be closed by the web site.  After you are registered you will be asked to pay a non-refundable fee of $35 per student.  Payment must be received at the Florence Police Department not less than one business day prior to the class.  Make your payment by check.  Checks should be made out to ďFlorence Police Department.Ē  You can bring the check by the police department Monday thru Friday during business hours or mail your check to:

                Florence Police Department

                702 South Seminary Street

                ATTN: Abby Jackson

                Florence, AL 35630

My spouse and I both want to attend.  How do we handle this?

Weíll be glad to work with both of you but because of the way the electronic registration system operates each student needs to be registered individually. 

Can my spouse and I share the same gun on the day of the class?

Yes

What can I expect to learn? 

Students will receive instruction in:

o   Fundamentals of handgun marksmanship

o   Principals of safe firearms handling and storage

o   Legal issues related to self-defense law in Alabama

o   A live-fire experience under direct supervision of one of our trained Firearms Instructors.  Fixed targets are engaged from a distance of approximately 5 yards.  Students are encouraged to bring 100 rounds of target ammunition so they can gain experience and confidence through repetitive fire.

Where is the class and how do I get there?

The course is presented at the Florence Police Department Training Center located at 5000 County Road 204 Florence, Alabama.  Some people have reported that their GPS canít find this location.  Because the range is somewhat remote, students gather at the Florence Police Department at 8:00 oíclock on the morning of the class and an officer will escort the group to the training center.  Meet the officer on the west side of the building near the flag poles and the statue.

What do I need to bring with me on the day of the class?

o   Photo identification.  A concealed carry license is preferred. A driverís license or state ID will do.

o   Your handgun, .22 caliber or larger

o   A holster or carrying case of some kind for your pistol.

o   Eye and ear protection. (Eye protection means safety glasses or prescription eyewear.  Ear protection means earmuffs designed to be worn while shooting.)

o   A cap with a visor.

o   A pen and notepad for notes.

o   A sack lunch.

Iím a little concerned about safety.  It sounds like a lot of people will be walking around with guns.

Safety is our number one priority for the day.  We will carefully follow a set of range safety procedures that will go a long way toward ensuring that everyone has a safe learning experience. 

o   We will ask students to leave their pistols and ammunition in their cars throughout the introduction and classroom portions of the day.

o   When we move from the classroom to the firing range, we will ask that everyone carry their pistol in its holster or carrying case.

o   When students retrieve their pistols from their cars, we will visually check all pistols to ensure they are unloaded before moving to the bleachers for the final safety briefing.

o   Shooters will load their pistols under the supervision of a firearms instructor after they arrive at their firing point.

o   After firing shooters will unload and show clear before returning to the bleachers.

o   Anyone who engages in an unsafe act may be ejected from the class at any time. No refund will be paid.

I havenít heard from you since I registered.  Is everything okay? Is there anything else I should know?

You need to do two things before the day of the class.  Once you get a return message from the web site indicating that you are registered then you need to submit the $35 fee as described above.  The only other thing you need to do is read this list of questions and answers so that you have the information you need before the class. 

What if I have other questions about the Handgun Safety Class?

After reading the information on this page, if you still have questions call 256-760-6579 to speak to a firearms instructor.

How can I gain routine access to the training center?

The training center is a controlled access facility.  Members of the public who wish to access the training center may do so by participating in sponsored events like the FPD Handgun Safety Class or by joining the Florence Gun Club.  The Florence Gun Club is a private NRA affiliated gun club that has entered in to a contract with the City of Florence.  A portion of the Gun Clubís annual membership dues are paid to the General Fund of the City of Florence and in return the Gun Club has access the firing ranges based on a published annual schedule.  A link to the Florence Gun Club appears in the right hand column of this page.  Contact information is provided for your additional questions about the Gun Club.

Do I need my own firearm and ammunition to attend the Handgun Safety Class?

Yes

I donít know anything about handguns, what do I need to know before buying one?

Selecting a handgun for self-defense is a very personal choice. Some critical factors to consider are:

o   Does the gun fit your hand?

Hold the pistol in your dominant hand.  A grip that fills your hand comfortably, without feeling too large, will aid in marksmanship.  Your finger should be able to reach and pull the trigger easily.  Many handguns are designed for concealed carry and can have very small grip surfaces.  These small grips will make it more difficult to aim your weapon and control it during the recoil impulse.  Unless you plan to carry the weapon concealed, smaller is not necessarily better.

o   Can you operate all of the controls to effectively bring the weapon into action during an emergency?

Sometimes students come to class with a handgun that has a long heavy trigger pull.  Or they may bring a semi-automatic with a heavy recoil spring and they donít have the strength to pull the slide all the way to the rear.  Both of these issues affect you ability to effectively put the pistol into action.  You should be able to press the trigger several times in a row without suffering significant fatigue.  Also, if you choose a semi-automatic pistol youíll need to be able to pull the slide all the way to the rear in order to load or unload your pistol.

o   What caliber should I choose?

As a general rule .380 ACP, 9mm, and 38 Special are considered to be adequate defensive handgun calibers.  Smaller calibers can be used effectively and many people have protected themselves with those guns.  But the less powerful the round is the more important shot placement becomes. 

I already have a pistol, but I donít know how it works or how to take care of it.  Can you help me with that?

We will be glad to try.  Our instructors are not experts on all brands and models of handguns.  But most pistols operate in a very similar manner and we will do everything we can to help you.

Should I use practice ammunition for self defense?

For the purposes of the Handgun Safety Class inexpensive target ammunition is perfectly fine.  However, when practice is over we recommend that you buy ammunition designed for defensive use.  Defensive ammunition has a stronger powder charge giving it better penetration capability.  Also most defensive handgun ammunition has a hollow-point bullet.  This bullet configuration allows the round to expand on impact making it more effective.  While defensive ammunition is more expensive we recommend that you buy it and fire a few of these rounds through your weapon to ensure reliable function.

I carry my pistol in the car so it will be there if I need it.  How do you recommend carrying or storing a pistol in my vehicle?

If you plan to carry your pistol with you in your vehicle, you should keep the firearm in a holster worn on your body or inside your purse.  We do not recommend that you leave a firearm in your parked vehicle.  Like most areas, our community has a real problem with theft from parked cars.  A high percentage of the firearms stolen in our area come from parked cars.  We recommend that you always take your firearm out of the car while it is parked, even in your own driveway.  Lastly, remember that you must have a concealed carry permit to carry a loaded pistol with you while you travel on the public roads and highways of Alabama. 

Why are the fees for the class nonrefundable?  If I canít attend on the scheduled day canít those fees be applied to a later class?

The fees are used to offset the cost of overtime pay for the firearms instructors who will work with you during the class.  The number of registered students tells us how many instructors are needed to maintain safety on the firing line.  One or two people not attending wonít reduce our costs.  We could only reduce these expenses if we knew days in advance that several students had cancelled. 

What do I need to bring with me on the day of the class?

o   Photo identification. A concealed carry license is preferred. A driverís license or state ID will do.

o   Your handgun, .22 caliber or larger

o   A holster or carrying case of some kind for your pistol.

o   Eye and ear protection. (Eye protection means safety glasses or prescription eyewear.  Ear protection means earmuffs designed to be worn while shooting.)

o   A cap with a visor.

o   A pen and notepad for notes.

o   A sack lunch.

I donít know where the range is.  How do I get there?

On the day of the class at 8:00 oíclock in the morning an instructor will meet students at the Florence Police Department and guide the group out to the range.  Meet the instructor on the Court Street side of the building, in the parking area near the flag poles.