Friday, July 6, 2012

2012-07-06 "Ex-Fairfield cops teach gun handling at Blackrock Firearms Training" by Kimberly K. Fu from "The Vacaville Reporter" newspaper
In their multiple decades of service, retired Fairfield police veterans Mark Schraer and Rick Leonardini have handled a lot of firearms and trained a slew of officers.
These days, the longtime friends and co-founders of Blackrock Firearms Training hope to pass on their knowledge to civilians and professionals alike to promote safer and better handgun use.
"We're just trying to work with law enforcement, civilians and others to make sure that those who do have weapons use them in the safest ways," Leonardini said.
Schraer agreed, saying there's a lot of misinformation about firearms that can cause unnecessary fear.
"Guns don't kill people as much as pencils misspell words," he pointed out.
Training and practice, they said, make for better gun handling and, should the situation ever arise, winning a gunfight.
It's mostly a mental thing, Schraer said, the "zone" your mind is in while wielding your firearm. Through various classes, Blackrock aims to teach students how to reach and maintain that state, to think on their feet, to consider the firearm as a natural extension of themselves. Thus training focuses on two things -- prevailing rather than surviving a fight and developing an unconscious competency.
Both say they're uniquely qualified as teachers.
Schraer, a National Rifle Association instructor who tours the country teaching public safety personnel, has also taught at the police academy level. He served as an instructor at the Fairfield Police Department, where he helped develop training to increase an officer's odds of winning a fight.
Leonardini was the department's rangemaster, aided in the development of the region's first "Active Shooter" course, enacted a new firearms training curriculum and was behind the construction of the department's 30,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art law enforcement training facility.
Tom Sabo, for one, believes the training Blackrock offers is invaluable.
"They did a great job of teaching safety, mindset. ... The attention to detail is just amazing," said the Napa County resident and NRA instructor of a recent class. "These are the guys I'd take my kids to, these are the guys I'd take my wife to, because I want them to be as safe as possible."
Students learn a lot about their behavior with and around firearms, Sabo said, as well as what the correct attitude should be.
"Who better to train you than someone that's a police officer?" he added. "It made me a whole lot better."
Ron Turner, a law enforcement instructor at Yuba College, shared the sentiment.
Always up for upgrading his skills, the former police officer has trained at numerous facilities throughout California and beyond. As he absorbs the instruction, he's also learning about the instructor, Turner said, describing Schraer as gifted.
"He's very patient, very passionate about the subject," he recalled. "He has a great approach. ... I even had him come up to my classroom and talk to my students."
Schraer, Turner said, brings a reality to teaching, offering up-to-date information on officer-involved shootings and more. That, he advised, makes his instruction "current and relevant."
Handgun, shotgun and "women only" classes are offered at Blackrock. Instruction is held in Vacaville and Fairfield.
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