JONESBORO — A team of combat-seasoned shooting instructors will help Jonesboro “Guardian Angels” earn their wings in the classroom and on the firing range this summer.
Adam Fitzer of Texas Weapon Instructors of Gatesville tailored a 10-day training curriculum for the Jonesboro Independent School District Guardian Angel Program, which allows selected employees in the district to carry concealed guns on campus. Jonesboro is about 40 miles north of Copperas Cove.
Shooters and non-shooters will take part in at least part of the training.
All of the district’s 27 employees will get six hours of defensive tactics training next month, Fitzer said.
“We will talk about how they can use the environment to their advantage,” he said. Crisis intervention and management of hostage situations also will be discussed in the class.
Fitzer said lawyers will participate in the training to provide tips on how school employees can “protect themselves legally.”
Employees selected by the school board to carry weapons will spend 10 days this summer learning advanced handgun tactics, including four days on a shooting range.
Fitzer won’t say who or how many will take the weapons training, but said school officials “are going through quite a selection process” to pick qualified candidates.
“We will try to give enough range time to make their training comparable to law enforcement,” Fitzer said.
Each of the trainees will fire 2,000 rounds during 32 hours on the range. They will spend another 24 hours in structures simulating school buildings where they will learn to move through hallways and clear rooms in an “active-shooter” scenario, Fitzer said.
“We will teach weapon concealment and weapon retention,” he said. “All the instruction is meant to help us be as proficient as possible.”
The class will conclude with an active-shooter simulation at the Jonesboro campus that will involve role-playing and live-firing with “air-soft pistols,” which function like real guns but shoot plastic BBs, he said.
Trainees will have to pass a final exam to prove their proficiency, Fitzer said.
“If some people are not making it, we will strongly recommend they not be part of the program,” he said.
Texas Weapon Instructors is even helping Jonesboro ISD find the right weapons and helping line up a reliable source of ammunition, which has been in short supply on the consumer market in recent months.
Fitzer conducted a product demonstration for school officials last week to introduce a 9mm pistol made by Caracal USA.
Caracal, a company based in the United Arab Emirates that specializes in military pistols, is working with Texas Weapon Instructors to provide pistols “at factory cost” for the school program, Fitzer said.
Ammunition maker Lehigh Defense is working with the training company to provide its “Hero” 9mm round, a high-speed, low-grain maximum-expansion bullet designed to eliminate the risk of over-penetration.
The round stops 8 to 10 inches after striking a human target, Fitzer said, reducing the chance of the bullet going through the target and striking a bystander.
Pennsylvania-based Lehigh Defense will ensure that the school gets the ammunition it needs for the program, Fitzer said.
TWI has heard from a handful of school districts interested in training, he said, but Jonesboro is the first to step up with a plan of action.
As thorough as he tries to make the curriculum, Fitzer said he is working to prepare people to do something he hopes they will never have to do.
“Lord willing, they will never have to do it, never have to take someone’s life,” he said.