The Heartland Firearms Academy teaches firearm safety, survival and not going to jail.

Surviving and not going to jail are the product at Pratt's newest business, Heartland Firearms Academy.

Heartland opened its doors on Oct. 1, 2017 and they provide defensive firearms training, said co-owner Newton "Newt" Dyche.

Dyche, along with co-owners and Bo Lambert and Colton Dyche are all instructors and represent three generations working to keep people safe and out of jail. Knowing when it's legal to use lethal force is as important part of the training as everything else. Students have to be able to respond quickly in a situation because when things start happening, they happen in a hurry.

Sessions are $50 for half an hour of private lessons. Sessions for two are also available and that allows each person to watch and learn from the other person. There are 250 scenarios with 70 of those for civilians. Targets are stationary, moving and shoot-don't shoot scenarios. They also teach use of pepper spray. Dyche said he was talking with the Pratt Police Department about training officers.

Training is with laser guns and laser guns with CO2 cartridges. There is no live ammo at Heartland.

The dream of a firearms academy took some time, three years to be precise. They teach firearm safety defensive firearm techniques to shooters of all ages and skill levels from beginner to the more advanced, Dyche said.

Their facility provides a secure practice room where students use laser guns on a wide variety of computer generated targets. An instructor is always present and when a lesson is done, the students gets to put into practice what they have learned, Lambert said.

Their goal with each student is to teach them how to survive and not go to jail. Sometimes, not going to jail is harder to teach than the other training. Heartland can help stack the cards in the student's favor. Every scenario has a time to leave before it escalates into a confrontation.

"You want to escape if you possibly can," Lambert said.

They teach vocal techniques to get the attacker to leave including screaming and yelling that they have a firearm and know how to use it to get the attacker to leave. Actually using the gun should be the last resort. Dyche said.

Avoiding the confrontation is safer and it helps keep a victim out of jail. There is a time when it's legal to use deadly force and a time when its not and the training at Heartland helps the student understand the difference.

Dyche said a lot of their training is to make people aware of their surroundings and avoid getting into situations they don't like. If the person has a bad feeling about a situation, then do something to change it.

If someone is confronted with a situation, the person has to evaluate three things: The attackers ability to hurt the person, the opportunity to hurt the person and if the person feels they are in jeopardy. Changing the opportunity for someone to hurt a person is the first option. Just deny the attacker the opportunity to attack in the first place, Lambert said.

When they decided to open Heartland, the co-owners did a lot of homework on firearm safety and defensive techniques. The worked with the National Rifle Association, talked with law enforcement and with lawyers. All three went through four levels of training to get certified.

During the hour long training session, students are presented with a series of target scenarios with each successive scenario going into more depth. Targets range from stationary to moving to videos with real people in possible situations. Besides what's directly in front of them, students are taught to also see what is going on behind and to the side of an attacker. When the lights are turned off and the session starts, it intensifies the experience, Dyche said.

Students are taught to always be alert wherever they go. They have to focus on what is happening and be able to describe the attacker to the police.

Once a session is finished, the trainer and student have a debriefing to review what went well and what areas could use more work. Students ask a lot of questions and that helps them learn.

Ada Welch took the training and when she got into the session she learned just how real the training could be.

"I wanted to run. I got myself into a bad position. I had nowhere to go," Welch said.

Although she knew it was not a real attack, she discovered she couldn't give an accurate description. The situations are that real, said Welch who wants to go through more training.

Classes at Heartland are usually one a week, depending on the level of training. There is no age limit. Some students just want to target practice while others want to get to a level so they can a weapon in public.

The Academy is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Walk-ins are welcome but calling ahead can guarantee a training time. Private sessions last about a half hour, two students at once lasts about an hour. They are located at 1807 East First Street in Pratt. The phone number is 620-388-0018.

When not teaching defensive firearms tactics, the three co-owners are out driving commercial semis.

@GaleR_Tribune