February 27, 2013

A Matter of Safety

2009-12-31 23.00.00-35

According to the Small Arms Survey, 650 million small arms are currently in civilian hands, and civilian ownership is the fastest growing consumer category of small firearms. The Rio Grande Valley is no stranger to guns, and has seen an increase in their circulation in recent years. But according to Dr. Enrique Escobedo Jr., Director of American Firing Range and Academy, gun related accidents and deaths in the valley have declined. Escobedo believes our society has become more safety conscious, and believes something is being done right.

Prior to becoming the Director of the American Firing Range and Academy in 1999, Escobedo was a professor of environmental health. He recalls the times when his parents would not buy him a BB gun for Christmas. “I finally got a Red Ryder at age 35,” Escobedo said laughingly as he reiterated his love of the job.

Located in Brownsville, Texas, American Firing Range and Academy delivers high-end training services in a professionally staffed state of the art facility. There are six indoor shooting lanes equipped with computerized tactical targets, and a large outdoor range with 200 yards of tactical training. The outdoor range is regulation size for range master and safety officer programs.  There is no caliber restriction for the outdoor range. Assault rifles are allowed, but clients are expected to follow a very strict safety code at all times. Company-sponsored shooting tournaments have become very popular among the clientele who crowd the firing range every Thursday afternoon.

American Firing Range is the only regulation tactical indoor shooting range in South Texas, and promotes a no hassle concealed handgun license class, CHL. These classes are offered every month at a special temporary cost of $79.00 dollars. Private groups are welcome. The number of students per class varies, but regardless of the numbers, Escobedo says everybody receives VIP treatment.  Escobedo oversees the entire CHL program and the academy’s training curriculums. “Our main focus is safety at all times,” said Escobedo. The eleven-hour CHL class, taps on important subjects such as the basic requirements, legal aspects, penal codes plus communicating the process of preventing conflict. Justifications of deadly force, as well as increased emphasis on the levels of awareness are essential training components.

The company has recently focused on meeting the needs of women. “There is still some level of hesitation among women, and we have noticed they feel more comfortable when training with other women.” said Escobedo. “We are working on accommodating their needs by increasing shooting activities exclusively for them as we guide and instruct them through the process of becoming legally armed citizens.” Acknowledging the negative connotation handguns carry because of the association with death and violence, Escobedo believes that, if used responsibly, guns can help save lives. He also addresses the fear parents have when their teenage children express an interest in guns. Instead of avoiding the topic, and preventing them from learning how to handle a gun safely, Escobedo believes the best option is education. It could be the difference between life and death.

When speaking about his teaching approach, Escobedo said, “I do not focus so much on grades, or whether a student passes or fails, but I do focus on educating a safe handgun owner.”

An avid golfer, Escobedo uses a Golf metaphor when stressing the importance of commitment to practice. He says that anybody can learn the basics of a good Golf swing in less than an hour, but it is only with practice that the swing will be perfected. The same can be applied to the basics of shooting a gun. He recommends practicing often, practicing safely and practicing correctly in order to excel in marksmanship.

The academy offers training programs for security officers and body guards, services Escobedo says are in high demand in the area.  The academy is proud to stress on the professionalism, sense of duty and responsibility they instill in their trainees. One of the neatest parts of this training is a simulator. It consists of 300 scenarios recreated inside a dark room, in front of a large screen with surround sound. These scenarios are carefully selected by Dr. Escobedo, and can be done in English and Spanish. The purpose of this training is to effectively master the reactions to different possible violent scenarios while exercising marksmanship.

The management of American Firing Range and Academy firmly believe in giving back to the community. They recently donated fifty turkeys to the Brownsville Police Department for their annual turkey giveaway benefiting needy families. They also sponsor an annual Safety Fair. The next Safety Fair is scheduled for the last weekend in April, 2013, where they not only inform the community about gun safety through fun activities, but all the proceeds benefit a local charity.


For additional information visit www.americanfiringrange.net or call (956) 542-2285.

I wrote this article for the Valley Business Report magazine

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About the Author

Tapia - Gonzales
La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Life, art and culture, poetry, prayers, travel, and camping! yes, that's my new thing. I blame the heat and high humidity for the madness. Contributions and comments are always welcome .

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