I usually think of bear protection as avoidance, but since the course was required for some fieldwork, I was sort of looking forward to a fun day of shooting. Not quite. It was 7 hours in a metal chair being lectured to and only then did we actually shoot – for an hour. A month later I figured what the heck, why not take a personal protection course and pack a concealed carry permit, if for no better reason than it puts me in the same group as the perceived good guys – fingerprints, background check, photo ID and a willingness to be in the database. Ok, I’m all of that already, so it was really about the target practice (again). This time it was two days in the folding metal chairs. I enjoyed this class more, mainly because it was with regular folks vs coworkers; you know, the guys with tattoos and leather vests, scars from old gunshot wounds, patches over one eye…well, that’s not true – everyone had all their body parts but there were a few scars and stories, to be sure. One gal was a trucker to the north slope, complete with kohl eye-liner and bangles, and another drove school bus and had been in some sort of ‘service,’ but didn’t know much about firearms, and then the rest of us. Oh yeah, a naturalized citizen from Italy who was a real hoot to listen to because his accent stopped us all in our tracks while we tried to figure out what it was he was trying to say. A few of the misunderstandings were comical, but it turned out he was a regular shooter with one of the NRA instructors, and shot far better than he spoke English. All in all, a well-rounded group of military, hunting guides, pilots and genuine U.S. Average Joes and Janes. At 25 feet, I could use a little more practice, tighten up that group, but I think I could stop a critter or a bad guy if I had to.