Anyone considering obtaining a handgun carry permit and is looking for an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday can do both by enrolling in a C&C Firearms Safety Class.
Instructor Carl Culbertson said he began using firearms when he was about nine or 10 years old, hunting with this dad. He said he had a .410 single barrel shotgun he used while squirrel hunting with his dad.
Culbertson said, “He was one of the best rifle shots that I ever knew personally.”
He said when his dad was young he hunted for food to help feed his family. Culbertson said his grandmother had told him most of the meat that had appeared on the family table had gotten there via his dad’s .22 rifle. He said his dad would shoot rabbits as he walked about four miles to the store, and then trade the rabbits for items at the store.
Culbertson said when he was in basic training, he shot expert with every rifle he shot, and it wasn’t a challenge to him because he had grown up with guns in his hands. He said he got into competitive shooting in about 1985 and got on the All Reserve Shooting Team. He traveled all over the country, and the team won four national championships in a five-year period.
He said national championships were held for teams from all branches of the military, as well as teams made up by civilians. Culbertson earned Top 100 placement, and is a member of the President’s Hundred.
While he was at Fort Hood, out of 50,000 soldiers, he was the only one with U.S. Army Distinguished Pistol Shot and President’s Hundred badges. He said most soldiers didn’t know what the President’s Hundred badge was, and some asked him if he was a President’s guard.
Culbertson said his favorite pistol to shoot is a .45 caliber, but he doesn’t carry such a large gun on a regular basis. He said the .45 was his competition gun.
He said three-gun competition shooting required shooting .22 caliber, centerfire and .45 caliber handguns. He said most competitors shot a .22 and shot a .45 for the other categories. He said competitors shot 90 rounds with each gun. Competitors shoot one-handed, from 25 and 50 yards.
He said there are good days and bad days in shooting.
“It’s a mental game. I don’t care if it’s golf or whatever game you shoot, once you learn the basics and the physical part of it, then it becomes a mental game,” he said.
He said he shot on the Virginia National Guard Rifle Team for a couple years early on. During rifle competition, he said competitors shot from standing, kneeling, sitting and prone positions.
Culbertson said in a competition all shooters don’t compete against each other. Competitors are categorized as marksman, sharp shooter, expert, master and high master, based upon skill.
Culbertson achieved Master U.S. Army Distinguished, President’s Hundred and NRA Master.
“It takes a lot of work, a lot of time. It’s not something you start out and you’re a natural and you go in a championship in the first year or something,” Culbertson said.
Culbertson said he shot competitively for about 12 years. He was raised in the Kingsport area, but moved to Grainger County after meeting his wife, Cynthia, in 1994. He continued to work as a machinist in the Kingsport area after moving to Grainger County, making the long drive daily for nine years.
Culbertson decided to begin teaching handgun carry permit classes when a law was passed in Tennessee in October 1996 allowing citizens to get handgun carry permits. He said he thought teaching the class would be a fun thing to do, and applied for a school permit and a license to teach. C&C’s first class was held in April 1997. Then State Rep. Dennis Roach was a member of the first class.
Only four or five people attended that first class, but attendance numbers have increased quite a bit since then. Culbertson said the largest class he has taught included 61 people.
“That’s way too many,” he said.
Cynthia said people would just show up for the class because they had seen the class date and time advertised on the sign. In the beginning there was no curriculum, and Culbertson said he pretty well shot from the hip when it came to teaching. Now there is a standard curriculum with a PowerPoint presentation and video clips. Classroom work takes a minimum of four hours to complete, along with a range safety briefing, gun cleaning instruction, live fire on the range and a written test. The class takes eight hours to complete.
After half a day of classroom work, Cynthia pampers attendees with a lunch which will make some attendees search for an excuse to visit the class again at a later date. Baked ham, so fresh it’s still warm, with all the fixings for ham and cheese sandwiches, chips, drinks, and a sweet dessert provides attendees plenty of energy to carry them through the second half of the day.
Culbertson said the state allows up to 50 class attendees, but he limits classes to about 25 people. He said the shooting range is limited to five people per instructor, and the space at his shooting range allows for four shooters at a time. Range size limitations prevent class sizes from being much larger.
When he first began teaching the class, it was held at his home on Lakeshore Drive. He said when class sizes outgrew the space available at his house, the class was moved to its current location at 6712 Highway 92 in Rutledge.
“I don’t know how many more years I’ll do this,” Culbertson said. “Cynthia, she loves it. I do, I enjoy it. And she likes it cause I guess we’re kinda people people. We like to be around folks. I enjoy being able to share my expertise with people that really need it.”
The State of Tennessee began offering concealed carry only permits January 1. The concealed carry only permit doesn’t require applicants to complete live fire training and testing, and classwork can be completed online.
“To me that’s just a bad idea,” Culbertson said. “What’s the difference in that and doing online driver’s training?”
Culbertson said Concealed Handgun Carry Permit holders may only carry concealed, and permit reciprocity between states may be different for Enhanced Handgun Carry Permits and Concealed Handgun Carry Permits.
“Politicians do things because they’re popular, not because they’re smart, and that’s one of them,” he said.
The Concealed Handgun Carry Permit requires permittees to carry concealed at all times, and permittees may not carry at any school or university, whether public or private. An Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit allows permittees to carry openly or concealed. Anyone who successfully completes an eight-hour, in-person handgun safety course is also eligible for a Lifetime Enhanced Handgun Carry Permit, which has no expiration date.
Anyone interested in enrolling in a C&C Firearms Safety class should call (865) 850-1495.