Photo by Darick T. Earney
Course creator and instructor Manuel “Manny” Espinoza (second from left) observes students shooting at a non-moving target.
EAST ALTON — Halo Defense Training & Tactics shoots for success when it comes to teaching citizens about gun safety and the benefits of a concealed-carry permit.
Business founder and course instructor Manuel Espinoza has worked in law enforcement for 16 years and wants to pass his knowledge and experience on to fellow officers and residents who want to stay clear from harm’s crosshairs.
“For me, I want to ensure my customer is comfortable with their firearm, they understand firearm safety and are proficient with their firearm,” Espinoza said. “I want my customer to understand the importance of determining the right firearm for their individual needs, selecting the right holster ... and knowing when deadly force is justified.”
After receiving support and convincing from comrades and family, Espinoza teamed up with close friend, police officer and firearms instructor Brandon DeSherlia, to create Halo. Together, the duo officially opened in March, going great guns by quickly gaining a following.
“The fondest memory I have with working for Halo was the first class I had the pleasure of teaching,” DeSherlia said. “Every student who comes to our classes has made the decision to take the security of their loved ones and their own seriously. That being said, having an opportunity to spend time with these people and share my knowledge with them — in an attempt to make them safer, more responsible and trained firearms handlers — energizes me.”
The East Alton training facility provides residents and law enforcement officers a chance to train one on one with an instructor to learn how to react in uncontrolled scenarios.
After completing a 16-hour class, the student will receive an Illinois concealed-carry permit, enabling them to keep a handgun on their person for the sole purpose of protection.
Concealed-carry class registration is available at halodefensetactics.com/class-registration.html. Spots for weekend courses can be reserved by adding an upfront $25 deposit.
Qualifications for joining Halo include:
• 21 or older
• A valid firearm owner’s identification card
• No record felonies or misdemeanors within the past 5 years
Members learn about firearm safety and maintenance, along with state and federal gun ownership laws.
“The end goal for each course is that students leave with the confidence that they can safely, and with the knowledge of applicable laws, use their firearm in the defense of themselves or others, if the need arises,” DeSherlia said. “I also hope to stress that the CCW class is only the beginning of their shooting career, if you will, and express the need for ongoing training, which we hope to provide.”