GODFREY- With a combined 105 years in firearms training, the instructors at Trigger Talent ensure each person taking the Illinois Conceal and Carry Weapons (CCW) course knows what they are doing with their weapons.

“My favorite quote to tell them is one I made up myself,” Trigger Talent owner and instructor, Mark Maggos, said. “Every bullet that leaves your gun has your freedom, your check book and your heart attached to it, and you get to choose your priorities.”

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Maggos has 40 years of competitive pistol shooting under his belt. He is one of the highest-rated shooting instructors by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Downstate Illinois. Fellow instructor, Gene Flowers, also has 40 years of competitive experience behind him and is a professional shooter for firearms manufacturer, Winchester.

Lt. Jim Goeken of the Madison County Sheriff's Office is also an instructor at Trigger Talent. Goeken has spent 25 years training in tactical shooting as well as eight years serving in the United States Marines.

The courses spend eight hours on the essential topic of handgun safety as well as four hours on the law behind conceal and carry. The law portion of the class is taught via DVD by attorney, Jerry Novak.

“Without being an attorney myself, I'm not comfortable in teaching law,” Maggos said. “They speak an entirely different language than we do.”

Madison County States Attorney Tom Gibbons also speaks at Trigger Talent classes. Maggos said his was the only class offered in the state featuring a county's state's attorney. Gibbons speaks at each class about the lawful use of force, a feature Maggos feels is very important to his classes.

Beyond the classroom environment offered at the Sportsman's Club in Godfrey, Maggos offers additional training in live fire and accuracy in an indoor shooting range at the end of Westwind Road in Godfrey, which is located off of Airport Road.

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“Being indoors means we do not have to miss a minute of shooting time because of the weather,” Maggos said. “We haven't missed any time since we started doing it in October 2013.

The indoor shooting arena features realistic targets as well as training opportunities involving barricades and even a vehicle. The “Tactical Trooper,” as Maggos calls it, is an Isuzu SUV used to instruct people on dealing with a potential carjacking or an assault taking place in a parking lot situation.

As for the barricades, Maggos said those are useful in instructing people how to shoot accurately from behind cover.

“You always want to seek cover or concealment if you can,” Maggos said about situations requiring drawing a weapon.

Maggos said his indoor range is the only enclosed tactical range in the St. Louis area. Tactical range means one may draw and fire live rounds anywhere within the range, instead of simply firing from a tabletop in a designated position.

Trigger Talent offers the Illinois CCW course as well as the Florida course for free. Maggos said the Illinois CCW license is valid in 25 states, and the Florida one adds 14 more, including Texas.

Advanced NRA personal protection courses as well as tactical pistol courses are also offered through Trigger Talent.

More information can be found and classes can be scheduled by visiting www.triggertalent.com or calling (618) 467-3846.

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