Virtual Gun Range attracting Central Florida women interested in self-defense

Concealed weapons students placed in real-life decisions

ROCKLEDGE, Fla. - Training for a concealed weapons license has gone the way of virtual video but any one that has tried it says it's no video game.

[WEB EXTRA: Virtual gun range]

Lisa Newell admits she was shaken by the virtual confrontations in her session,  "It was very nerve racking in there, it felt real."

Twin Rivers Gun Works in Rockledge provides a combination of classroom training and target practice that has caught the attention of women trying to decide if they can handle a firearm.

Instead of live ammunition and the thunder clap of gunfire students are firing a regulation Glock 9 millimeter that fires a laser and recoils with the help of gas canisters.

Tiffany Loris, a former prosecutor in Brevard County, is one of the few students who had some past experience shooting a handgun. Loris felt the video training went beyond target practice at a gun range.

"What I liked about it was that it put you in a real life situation, Loris said, "And it makes you use your mind in taking control of the situation."

The real life moments are confrontations that require split second decisions. Students are facing situations that could mean the difference between life and death.

Jennifer Burnett had never held a hand gun before she took a Thursday night class. The first phase of the 30-minute session is a typical classroom setting where students are briefed about gun safety, state laws and loading a hand gun.
Burnett says she liked the experience but found that one class was not enough to decide if she wanted to own a hand gun.

"I haven't made that decision yet, but I don't think I could make that decision without having all the facts," Burnett said.

Tyson Coppola, an instructor at the Three Rivers Gun Works, says they see marked improvement in students' hand gun skills after the first session.

The concealed weapons class costs $60. Additional training on the virtual gun range will cost between $20-$50 a session.

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