After crime in some East County cities spiked at the end of last year and police departments struggled to remain fully staffed, Lawrence Treat and Shawn Rajabi, of  Delta Tactical Training Group, offered their expertise to everyday citizens caught in the crossfire.

The pair developed some of the area’s first basic civilian handgun training courses, including one dedicated to women.

“We thought this would be great to help the community make sure they are safe at home, because alarms don’t always work,” said Rajabi, the group’s lead firearms instructor, who holds several firearm training certifications, including those from the Department of Justice and the National Rifle Association. “Everyone is relaxed and on the same beginner level. They can learn and take that information to protect themselves at home.”

The introductory course trains students how to handle, load, shoot, transport and lock a firearm and teaches them when opening fire on an intruder is warranted.

“We are only teaching them to arm and defend themselves at home, and mainly we are teaching these people to not shoot,” Rajabi said. “I have seen so many cases where someone breaks into someone’s house and they take a gun and they start shooting. Then in the end, they lose their home and face a civil lawsuit.”

The six-hour classes, which usually take place every other Sunday at the company’s headquarters on Verne Roberts Circle in Antioch, consist of a four-hour, in-class session and two hours at a shooting range, where they practice shooting a target seven yards away. Since the classes began in 2014, they have routinely reached the 10-person maximum capacity.

A number of students sign up for classes after becoming the victims of a crime or out of concern for that possibility. Students must be at least 18, but frequently include people in their 50s or 60s, who have never even touched a gun.

“Many times, when I say introduce yourself, people start crying,” Rajabi said. “They are scared; they get emotional. They have been victims of a crime. They got jumped or someone broke into their house. They didn’t know how to protect themselves. They were just relying on local law enforcement agencies, who can take up to 20 minutes to arrive these days.”

Natalie Blandon, a mother of two, took the class to learn how to safely handle guns and protect her family if the need ever arises. Like others, she admits she was nervous heading into the class and the first time she handled a gun, but her fear soon gave way to confidence.

“I was completely nervous, but now I feel comfortable,” she said. “I have been telling my friends to take the class, and my husband and I want to go out to the range.”

Brian Clark, another student who has taken several classes the Delta Tactical Training Group offers, attended the basic course to learn how to properly handle a firearm he had purchased. He said that the staff is patient and knowledgeable and the classes are fun.

“I loved it,” he said. “I am no way affiliated with them, but I appreciate quality. It’s well worth the money.”

Students who do not already own a gun can rent one for $45 to use during class. Classes cost $135. The Delta Tactical Training Group also offers civilian self-defense classes and a variety of other law enforcement firearms and defensive tactics training courses.

To sign up, call 925-775-4777. The Delta Tactical Training Group is located at 2504 Verne Roberts Circle, Suite 103, in Antioch.

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