Wilson County’s Civilian Firearms Training Academy Prepares Citizens for Personal and Homeland Defense

by | Mar 2024

LEARNING NEVER truly stops, and that is doubly true in the arena of self-defense. For Clay Howell, founder and owner of Patriot Training, firearms are an integral part of that. Since 2016, Howell has worked hard to make Patriot Training an institution everyone can learn from, whether they have been in the military or law enforcement or have never picked up a gun. Patriot Training is there for everyone no matter who they are or what they think.

“I firmly believe that, regardless of my personal beliefs, everyone has a right to personal protection and self-defense,” Howell expressed. “At the end of the day, that’s what we teach.”

Patriot Training offers four rifle classes and three pistol classes, as well as medical training. Each class focuses on firearm handling and self-defense, whether you find yourself alone or in a team, in a neighborhood, or in a place of worship.

“No matter where that is, everyone who carries a firearm should have some medical training,” Howell said. 

After all, every situation where it is legal to draw a firearm is inherently dangerous.

“The things that cause us to legitimately fear for our lives or grave bodily injury — those things are necessarily hazardous, dangerous,” Howell said. “It has been discovered that the number one most preventable reason that people have died has been catastrophic bleeding, and that’s just not good because the key there is the most preventable. [So] our medical classes are designed around preventing unnecessary death in a situation like that.”

Patriot Training “Rifleman Medical” classes are helpful in many situations beyond simple self-defense, which has been reflected in the students.

“Thankfully, we’ve not had many — just a small handful — that have ever had to use their skills,” Howell said. “We’ve had many more students that have taken medical classes and used those skills than we have firearms classes students, and that’s how we want it to be.”

Classes are typically over weekends, for one or two days, and cap out at 16 participants for pistol and 12 for rifle. For those who want to train specifically with their friends, small group classes are offered as well. Nearly all classes are built for beginners as well as experienced marksmen.

“We have designed the course curriculum from the ground up for the beginner, but also with enough — shall we say, leeway. Such that a veteran military man or a law enforcement officer that has experience — we can make the exercises challenging for them as well,” Howell said. “[The] age-old saying is that, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know,’ and so we fill in those gaps.”

Patriot Training is so effective because Howell and his assistant trainers are constantly refining their instruction. No single class curriculum is set in stone.

“God has blessed us to have some really good assistant instructors in the program,” Howell said. “I really trust their judgment.”

Howell said he is always looking for “even a 1% improvement” in his work, and the library of exercises he has allows him to adjust classes to the needs of the students. He is especially committed to satisfying his students, with a 100% guarantee for new marksmen if they feel like the class isn’t for them, or veteran shooters if they don’t learn something new. It is rarely utilized, as most responses have been overwhelmingly positive. The number of students returning for more classes or bringing friends reinforces that.

“If you like something, you share it — that’s what we as people do,” Howell said. “I will rest contently knowing that people continue to not only come back for more, but they share it with friends and family.” 

It is a comfort to many to have the option of self-defense, and such training is not limited to those in careers that require it. The purpose of Patriot Training is “to help people become mentally, physically, and legally prepared to defend their loved ones.” Should calamity befall the academy’s students, they will be ready to stand tall in the face of adversity. GN 

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