Tim Druffel doesn’t fire weapons for a living anymore.
But he did once. And now the former U.S. Marine Corps marksman believes he has identified a new business opportunity to target, as he joins the growing ranks of concealed-carry firearms instructors in Kane County and throughout Illinois.
“Concealed-carry permits are new here to Illinois,” said Druffel, of St. Charles. “So I see a very big swell of demand right out of the gate for people trying to get the hours of training they need to get their permits.
“And I don’t think there will be enough instructors to keep up with the demand – at least not initially.”
Since late August, the Illinois State Police has processed and approved more than 1,000 requests from people in Illinois and other states seeking to become certified concealed-carry firearm instructors in Illinois.
According to the Illinois State Police website, 1,039 instructors have been registered by the agency, and more are being added daily.
Locally, 42 instructors have been certified in Kane County, including 10 in the Tri-Cities.
An additional six instructors have been certified in South Elgin, eight in Elgin and nine in Aurora, with others scattered throughout the rest of Kane County.
More than 1.5 million Illinois residents currently hold valid Firearms Owner Identification cards, giving them the legal right to own firearms in the state. How many of those who will seek to obtain permits to conceal and carry firearms remains to be seen.
The state police estimated about 400,000 people will seek such permits, applications for which the agency expects to begin processing in January.
The permits will carry an application fee of $150 for in-state applicants, and $300 for those outside Illinois. The law requires that even residents of other states must hold an Illinois concealed-carry permit to legally conceal and carry in Illinois.
However, before anyone can apply for such a permit, would-be concealed carriers need to complete 16 hours of training under the tutelage of an instructor registered with the state police, using state-approved curriculum.
Under the law, the training will be divided into two eight-hour courses. The courses will include firearms safety training, basic marksmanship instruction and other classroom exercises related to the various state and federal laws governing firearms carry and transportation.
Additionally, applicants must complete at least four hours of training on a firearms range, firing a minimum of 30 rounds at varying distances ranging from 5 to 10 yards from a silhouette target.
Applicants must demonstrate a proscribed degree of accuracy to pass the course and apply for a concealed-carry permit.
The law allows those who are serving or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and those who have completed firearms training certified by the state police, such as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Hunter Safety Course, to forgo the first eight hours of training, and focus on the classroom portion of the coursework dedicated to the legalities of concealed carry and the practical applications of when and how to use a concealed firearm.
According to the ISP website, instructors must be over the age of 21, be qualified to obtain a concealed-carry permit themselves, be a high school graduate and hold a valid firearms instructor certification recognized by the state police.
Druffel, for instance, brings to the table experience as a Marine Corps marksmanship instructor, and years as a competitive shooter.
“I have the qualifications, the background and I can do a competent job at training anyone to handle firearms safely,” Druffel said.
Likewise Hunter Gilmore of St. Charles, said he brings with him more than 25 years of experience as a police officer in DuPage County and Wisconsin, and now works as private investigator and a security consultant at Argonne National Laboratory.
Gilmore said he already has been teaching firearms safety courses in Kane and DuPage counties, and sees the concealed-carry instruction classes as a natural extension of that work.
Gilmore said he knew when his name popped up on the ISP’s list of certified instructors, because his phone began ringing quickly with inquiries from people interested in undergoing the training to obtain their concealed-carry permits.
“People are really interested in this,” Gilmore said. “They find the information on the state police site, and they want to get moving.”
Gilmore and Druffel said the classes will range from 5 to 30 people and could be taught at a variety of locations, although some instruction will need to take place at a firearms range.
“There’s a lot more to carrying a firearm than just putting it in a holster,” Gilmore said. “A lot of implications that people just don’t think about, but they need to learn.”