Editor’s Note: Guns are a controversial subject, but our communities are growing and personal safety has become a common topic of conversation. This article is for those who are curious about firearms, may want to know more or may even own a gun and want additional information and training.

Nic Couture was raised in the firearm industry. “I am a third generation pawn broker,” he explained. “When I was working in our Mandan store, I focused on the firearms. That part of the business kept growing and I got certified through the NRA to be a firearms instructor. I am also certified for firearm safety and several other things.”

Couture felt there were not a lot of places a person could get good, solid information. “I wanted to get over the stigma of ‘guns hurt people,’” he said. “It’s more the heart of the person that has the firearm. It is a useful tool and once you learn how to use that tool properly, there is no reason to be afraid of it.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe started conducting the North Dakota Class 1 and Class 2 testing and thought it would be really nice to have an indoor shooting range. The pawn business ended up buying a building that had some extra space, and the Personal Defense Center now has five indoor lanes for the public to shoot.

Besides selling new and used firearms, ammunition, and other personal defense accessories, the Personal Defense Center offers a variety of different classes and continues to add more as the demand rises.

They do a ND Class 1 class every Saturday. “Once someone gets their permit, they are probably going to want to practice and get more proficient, take a few classes,” said Couture. “We have a ‘Try a Gun’ class, so people can make sure they have a firearm they are comfortable with and will use. We also have a rental program so people can try different guns.”

The Personal Defense Center offers a ‘Women’s Essentials’ class that covers conceal/carry specifically for women. Women might also be interested in – ‘Refuse To Be a Victim’, an NRA class, and they are working on setting up a ‘Well-Armed Woman, Where the Feminine and Firearms Meet” group that would get together once a month to cover different topics and areas of interest. They will bring in experts to talk about different products, then go in and shoot. Josette, their lead ladies instructor, is heading this up and they will be the first in North Dakota to offer this program for women.

“We also want to offer classes for women who are not comfortable carrying a weapon,” said Couture. “Teach them things like knowing how to get out of a choke hold and give them a chance to practice it. Ladies can defend themselves with just a set of car keys.”

The Personal Defense Center offers several specials during the week. Monday is Ladies Day, where women can come and shoot for free. Seniors 60 and over shoot free Tuesdays and Fridays is couples night, when couples shoot two for one.

Couture wants everyone to know, “We are not here to promote violence, we are here to promote self-defense. We want people to be confident because those who show confidence will usually be left alone.”

*** Monthly (unlimited shooting) memberships available:                                               Individuals – $25 a month, Families – $35.

All kids 18 and under shoot for free as long as they are under direct supervision of an adult, in the same lane.

There are five shooting lanes available. Bring in this article and get a free range day. Call them at 222.2147 or visit online at personaldefensecenternd.com.http://personaldefensecenternd.com