“I want to see your grip and your stance once you get the firearm,” says Jay Hawkins at Reno Guns and Range. “So go ahead and pick it up."

The Training and Compliance Manager spends ample time with students on the range helping them become more familiar and comfortable with their firearm. "Spending some time developing intuitive unsighted fire." This is just a small portion of the Home Defense Tactics on-site course.

Down the hall from the range, you will find what looks like a home where Hawkins maps out scenarios with professional role players.

"Set the scene. Where are we and what's the scenario?” I ask. “You're getting a taste of home defense tactics. The scenario is your best friend, who is remodeling their home, called and said, 'Hey, I have a family emergency, I have to leave town for a couple days, can you stay at my house?’"

While you are staying there, you face a threat. Before deciding what to do, students run through strategies, communication, points of advantage and self-defense tools. "You will be utilizing a real firearm that's been modified to shoot 8mm marking cartridges."

Hawkins says the goal is to experience a stressful situation and respond appropriately to create neurological neutral pathways. "We're mapping the brain. We're creating a neurological neutral pathway to success should you encounter something similar in your life.” Per Nevada statute, explains Hawkins, if someone unlawfully breaks into a residence with intent to harm, a reasonable person in fear for their life can fire.

Hawkins yells out, "Enroll, enroll!” to start the exercise. Within minutes, an armed man breaks in through the garage, giving students just a few seconds to grab their weapon and the phone. "911 Dispatch, what's your emergency?” Hawkins watches closely during the scenario. If the student gets flustered or becomes shocked, he will stop it and ask the student questions to help guide them towards a successful outcome.

He trains students to shoot for a change in behavior, but adds home defense doesn't always mean using your gun. "Just because we have that tool doesn't mean that tool is an answer to all of our problems."

At the end of every training exercise, Hawkins spends time debriefing with students. In this particular scenario, he says the shooting was justified. "You addressed him appropriately, firing rounds to stop the threat at which point you stopped shooting."

Hawkins says his goal in the makeshift home and on the range is to arm people with education and lots of practice to keep everyone safe. "That’s why law enforcement and the military do this type of training, so they don't make mistakes in the real world."

To learn about the Home Defense Tactics class and others, visit Reno Guns and Range at: https://res.renoguns.com/rangemanagement/classdetail.cfm?class_id=939