Sevierville group offers military members free firearms training classes

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – A group of firearms training instructors in Sevier County is finding a way to help members of the military in the wake of the Chattanooga shootings.

Smoky Mountain Firearms Training is offering free handgun classes to any active military personnel and discounts for spouses and veterans. You can learn from the basics to much more advanced moves.

“The Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit Course, which actually is the Tennessee handgun safety course, which is required to get your permit,” said senior instructor Ryan Whited. “After that is what we really push, the Defensive Handgun Series: Defensive Handgun 1, 2 and 3. It picks up where the handgun safety left off.”

After five members of the military were killed in a shooting spree in Chattanooga earlier this month, they wanted to do something special.

Related coverage: Chattanooga shooting

“Those that have the ability, I want them to be able to protect themselves,” said Whited. “The majority of our military personnel have rifle training. They don’t have the handgun training that would be necessary to defend yourself or others here at home.”

All classroom portions of the classes are held at Smoky Mountain Knife Works, and it is also one place anyone wanting to take any of the classes can sign up.

You can also sign up online at www.gsmft.com. Just click “Pay Later” and take your military ID with you to class.

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“We wanted to give something back to that, and Ryan and Chris actually approached us and said ‘hey let’s offer some free classes to the active duty military,'” said Joshua Hill, Manager at Smoky Mountain Knife Works.

So far they have had one person take advantage of the free classes. Others are donating ammunition and money to help out. They are collecting those donations at Smoky Mountain Knife Works. They will also be at the Home Depot in Maryville from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, and the Lowe’s in Jefferson City on Thursday night.

Any extra donations will be given to the 7-16 Freedom Fund which goes directly to the families of the Chattanooga victims.

“We thought what better way to honor our military here at home?” said Hill.

It is a way to give back to those willing to give all.

“It’s surrounded around defending yourself and your family, becoming an asset instead of a liability,” said Whited.

The free classes will be offered through September 11.

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