I took the Utah Concealed Firearms Permit course at IOTA Training Center in Marriotsville MD last weekend. I first heard of IOTA from a post on the NJ2AS's (New Jersey 2ND Amendment Society) FaceBook page. The article from National Public Radio discussed the Maryland Tenth Cavalry which is an organization run by the same people operating IOTA. They have a specialized program that is marketed towards teaching black teens safe firearms handling, marksmanship, and African American history. A misunderstanding of something that was in the article lead to a spirited online discussion between myself and a fellow page member. Instead of continuing to argue amongst ourselves, I left a message on the 10th Cavalry's voicemail asking for a return call so they could weigh in with the facts. Courtney White-Brown, owner of IOTA training center, contacted me the next day and cleared up the issue and thanked me for calling for clarification- instead of letting the usual internet misinformation run amok. By noon Ken Brown, lead firearms instructor for IOTA, called me to clear up any misunderstanding about the club and also to invite me down to take the Utah CFP course.
The Utah Concealed Firearm Permit course is all about law and what constitutes deadly force; necessary but BORING. I assumed it would be difficult just to stay awake in the class. I was wrong. Ken Brown is an exciting instructor, and what should have been a dry lecture, instead included shoot/no shoot scenarios that were acted out by Ken and his assistant Richard Johnson. Audience participation and discussions about concealed carry and defensive shooting mindset and other materials were included that are not standard fair in the normal Utah CFP class. While class was in session Courtney was processing our paperwork and photos, which are required by Utah for our permits. They ran the class like a well oiled machine. Class started on time, there were snacks, coffee and water available throughout the day, and lunch was the biggest pizza I have ever seen in my life! (Trust me when I tell you, I have seen my fair share of big pizzas.) After lunch many subjects were covered from lasers on defensive firearms, gun safes, to holsters and carry systems. During the discussion, Ken had a firearm collection out that made everyone in class drool. Because of the efficient way the class was run, all of our paperwork was done and processed, including our completion certificates, by the end of class. When class was over, we could simply pack up and go home.
The staffs list of credentials are impressive: Ken Brown is Principal of IOTA Training Center, a NRA Training Counselor and NRA certified Instructor in all of the NRA disciplines. Courtney White-Brown is a NRA certified Pistol Instructor and NRA Range Safety Officer. Richard Johnson is a NRA certified Instructor, RSO, and a retired Air Force Security Police Officer. There were others on the IOTA team that I met and all of them are friendly, professional and made me feel welcome. The firearms community is small and we should have relationships that extend beyond the borders of our home states.
I am of the belief that if you have a question about something, it's best to find the most direct source of information and get your answer there. The staff at IOTA Firearms & Security Training Academy answered a question that was left on a voicemail within 12 hours and invited me down to their facility to see the place for myself. I would like to thank the staff of IOTA for inviting me down. I would also like to thank NJ2AS for having a place to learn about all things related to the 2ND Amendment, because I would not have met a new group of friends without NJ2AS's FaceBook page.