MONTICELLO — With Illinois gearing up to allow residents to carry handguns, University of Illinois patrol sergeant Willliam Smoot is seeking permission to operate a firearms training facility at his rural DeLand residence.
The Piatt County Zoning Board of Appeals approved the request for a special-use permit, which will now be considered by the county board on Nov. 13.
"It's a new area to open a business. People need to be trained, depending on their level of experience, between 8 and 16 hours, and I have a place in the country with no one living close by," said Smoot of his property located about one mile south of DeLand.
Smoot is also a certified master firearms instructor and said he has at least 10 interested in teaching at the facility. A 10- to 12-foot-high berm is proposed with a width that would allow six shooters to practice at once. Classroom training would take place in his four-car garage.
"Who better to teach concealed carry than the police?" he said.
Smoot added the facility would be open for supervised training only, and foresees no more than 14 students taking a class at any one time. The frequency of classes would depend on demand, which he felt could be high as those wishing qualify for concealed carry permits starting in January line up to obtain necessary certification.
Training opportunities are popping up throughout the area, including in Atwood, Champaign and Mahomet.