CHARLOTTE – ECHO Training, owned and operated by Michael Pegram, offers a wide variety of firearms training and safety classes for all ages and skill levels.
One of owner Michael Pegram’s most popular offerings is Concealed Carry, an 8-hour class required by the state before completing an application to carry a concealed weapon. Pegram caps his Concealed Carry classes at only eight or nine students, making them ideal for beginners with little to no firearms experience. In fact, for novices, Pegram sees the Concealed Carry class, which is 90% classroom, as a better entry point than the Introduction to Handgun Fundamentals class, a two-hour class, which is more practical in nature, focusing on teaching beginners how to shoot.
For more experienced firearms owners, Pegram recommends his series of Concealed Carry Defense classes. The four-hour part one class teaches concealed carry permit holders how to get their concealed weapon out and on-target as quickly and safely as possible. “Getting a concealed carry permit does not get you ready to walk around with a loaded gun, it just gets you legal,” says Pegram. “That class will get you ready to walk around with that loaded gun.”
One of the things that makes ECHO Training unique is their “Kids on Target” firearms safety course for kids as young as six years old. The four-hour class focuses mainly on gun safety but also teaches gun-handling skills from marksmanship to how to unload a .22 semi-automatic pistol.
“Nobody else does it,” says Pegram of the unique program, which was recently highlighted by WCNC. “Nobody else teaches classes as young as six. Some ranges have kids’ classes, but they don’t really go in-depth showing the kids how to shoot a handgun. A lot of the kids’ classes are shooting BB guns and long guns, but handguns are what kids will come across in their friend’s house, their parent’s house. Most people don’t want to teach that to kids because they are dangerous.”
But Pegram argues it’s precisely because handguns are so dangerous that children need exposure to them. “We teach them what to do if they confront one, how to unload it, how to make it safe,” says Pegram. “We don’t tell them to go touch guns, but we’re giving them the knowledge that if they did, they know exactly what to do with it.”
Pegram is adamant that his kids’ safety class is a great option for anyone, not just gun owners. He illustrates his point with positive feedback featured on his website from a parent whose children found a loaded gun in a creek. After failing to clear the weapon themselves, they got their parents, who notified the police. “Who knows what would have happened had you not taken the time to teach gun safety?” asked the relieved parent.
ECHO Training’s offerings go beyond gun safety and target practice. Pegram also offers Red Cross-certified babysitting and CPR classes, and he hopes to soon add a semester-long, safety-focused class on topics like human trafficking, cyberbullying, self-defense, and situational awareness. “I don’t want to just focus on firearms,” says Pegram. “I want to be anything to keep somebody safe. North Carolina is number five in human trafficking. Charlotte is number one in North Carolina. Even as adults, it’s amazing what we don’t know is happening out there.”
A public school teacher for fifteen years, Pegram grew up in Anson County hunting and fishing with long guns and bows. “I’ve always enjoyed firearms,” says Pegram, reflecting on the transition from high school biology teacher to firearms instructor. “I had another friend who approached me about starting [ECHO Training] with him. He put me in place, then had to back out. I ran with it, and here I am now!”
ECHO Training has grown slowly but consistently over the past five years, allowing Pegram to leave teaching last summer to focus on ECHO full time. ECHO Training’s CPR and babysitting classes take place at Point Blank Range in Matthews, but Pegram runs his firearms classes from his home in Midland, where he has a private range on seven acres. “I stay completely busy,” says Pegram. “Whatever class I put on the schedule, it gets full. It’s five times busier than it’s ever been.”
For Pegram, it’s a dream come true. “I love being able to be at home. I love being able to work with students,” says Pegram, who even finds joy in the administrative aspects of running the business. “The kids classes are my favorite; they’re the most fun. It’s exciting seeing new people who’ve never shot a gun in their life realize it’s not as big of a deal as they thought it was.”
It’s that individualized attention that sets ECHO Training apart. “We really care about what we do,” says Pegram. “We want to make sure everyone has a great experience. Even when people leave class, we tell them, if you need help at the range, if you need help with a gun, we don’t charge for that, just let us know. We really want to make sure everyone is happy and make them feel comfortable.”
Visit ECHO Training on the web to learn more or register for a class: http://www.echotraining.us/.