Area residents looking to learn more about Wisconsin’s concealed carry law now have another option: Wolf River Concealed Carry LLC.
The new business, which was introduced in February, is owned and operated by New London’s Ross Bielema.
“The concealed carry law was vetoed twice by former governor Jim Doyle. At the time, I was selling guns at an outdoors store, and I had a strong feeling that one day, Wisconsin would pass concealed carry legislation,” said Bielema. “Eventually, that did happen, and Wisconsin is now one of 49 states that have concealed carry legislation. Illinois is the only state that does not yet have similar legislation.
“After the law was passed in Wisconsin, I began to think about teaching a class. I’ve taught hunter safety in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, and I still teach hunter safety here in Wisconsin. I’ve been around guns all my life, and grew up as a hunter,” he explained. “I took some courses through the National Rifle Association (NRA) to qualify as a teacher, and I’m certified through the NRA.”
Bielema said the idea of starting his own business was intimidating at first, but New London CPA John Helgeson helped him understand how to set up a Limited Liability Company (LLC). From there, Wolf River Concealed Carry LLC got its start.
Bielema has purchased many class materials through the NRA, and is working hard to keep up with the ever-changing concealed carry rules.
“When the law first came out, there was lots of confusion about what was legal and what wasn’t,” he said. “It was changing quite a bit when it first came out.”
Department of Justice (DOJ) curriculum is taught in Bielema’s classes. Though lawmakers have eliminated the four hour requirement for the course, Bielema’s classes usually run at least four hours or longer.
“You can hardly cover everything in just four hours,” he stated. “Our class is still four hours, because we want to cover the entire curriculum as best as we can. The law states that if you have passed hunter safety, that is enough to allow you to apply for a concealed carry permit, as long as you are 21 or older. But there’s a lot more to carrying a concealed weapon than what you learn in hunter safety. Hunter safety classes don’t teach you much about handguns or concealed weapons, or when you can legally defend yourself.”
Bielema’s business also offers a shooting program to supplement the classroom portion of the training. The shooting program is one hour, and is geared for beginners.
“We shoot from self-defense distances-usually 20 feet or less,” explained Bielema. “It’s very practical, and helps students get in a ‘ready’ mindset. Wisconsin’s concealed carry law doesn’t require an actual shooting class for those who want to get a permit, but it’s reasonable for students to handle a gun and see how it fires.”
The handgun training is provided with many different types and calibers of gun.
“Many people don’t know what they want to buy or shoot,” Bielema said. “Size, weight and recoil are all considerations. Many people say you have to have at least a 9mm or .45; in my opinion, it doesn’t matter what you leave at home, but for carrying around on your body all day, I recommend a .22. Bullet selection is also very important, and we help students understand what’s out there as far as defensive ammunition. We also talk about holsters and ways to carry a weapon.”
Bielema is the lead instructor for the classes, while the main pistol trainer is Seth Gyldenvand, an ex-Marine. Lynn Kutz is another instructor, and Bielema said her involvement is very beneficial, as many female students relate to her and appreciate having a female instructor.
Bielema said one of the most important factors of the class is teaching students about avoidance. He also said proper signage at businesses confuses many people, as those businesses are liable for any incidents that may occur if they have posted a sign that says concealed weapons are not allowed. Conversely, businesses who do not post any such signs are not liable if an incident occurs on their property. Bielema’s courses also explain Castle Doctrine and cases of immediate threat of imminent danger of great bodily injury or death.
“Statistics show that where there are more guns, there is less crime,” Bielema said. “Concealed carry reduces crime overall. Many criminals are not very afraid of the police. If you live in a rural area like me, the following quote is true: ‘When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.’ I think it’s better for people to be prepared and educated in how to legally defend themselves. A leading criminalistics expert, Gary Kleck, has reported that firearms are used defensively about 2.5 million times per year. In 95 percent of those instances, no gun is fired.”
Bielema’s classroom courses are held at Bean City Bar and Grill, while shooting classes are held at the nearby Fox Valley Muzzleloaders range. Upon completion of the classroom course, students receive a certificate that they can then mail in when applying for their concealed carry permit.
Bielema said classes through Wolf River Concealed Carry LLC cost $75 for the classroom portion and $25 for the shooting portion.
To learn more about the business, search for Wolf River Concealed Carry LLC on Facebook. To register for an upcoming class July 28 or in August, September or October, call 920-982-1719.