Live Fire vs. Classroom Only for Wisconsin CCW

Before we get to the difference between classroom only and classroom plus live fire classes and why you’ll want to choose one over the other, there are a couple of basic things to cover.

Your Wisconsin CCW permit is valid in 30 different states. Our friends at USA Carry put together the following map. Green indicates the state in which you hold a license. Blue indicates the states that honor the Wisconsin permit and red indicates states that do not.

Adding a Florida nonresident permit gives you the ability to carry in not only Florida but also New Mexico and Texas:

Adding a Minnesota nonresident permit gives you the ability to carry in Minnesota. Doing this, you’ll notice that you can now carry a concealed weapon in most of the nation including the entire center of the country (with the exception of Illinois).

Why are Minnesota and Florida different and why don’t they honor a Wisconsin permit? Both states require a CCW class that has a live fire component and Wisconsin does not. Therefore, they do not honor Wisconsin permits even if you took a class with a live fire portion to qualify for your Wisconsin permit.

The solution is to take a CCW class with a live fire portion and apply not only for a Wisconsin permit but also a Florida and a Minnesota permit. These three combined are what give you the center of the country and a total of 34 states.

Illinois is the lone state in the Midwest that will not honor other states’ permits and also won’t issue permits to nonresidents. In other words, unless you live in Illinois, you won’t get an Illinois CCW permit. There is some good news, however; carriers with CCW permits from other states can conceal a weapon in their vehicle while driving through Illinois. This will be covered in your CCW class.

That brings us to live fire vs. classroom only courses. Most companies offer both types. If you’re heading to a Cabela’s on a Sunday afternoon for a Legal Heat class, you’ll be doing classroom only. If you’re heading to a gun range for a Thursday evening class taught by a USCCA instructor, you’ll be doing both classroom and live fire.

The benefit of doing a live fire class is, as mentioned above, the ability to apply for a license in states that require live fire. They are generally just a little more expensive than classroom-only classes but that’s due to having to cover the fees and insurance for range time. You don’t have to apply for a permit right away; most states give you at least a year from the class to apply. You’ll have some time to decide.

The live fire portion is not something to worry about. The instructor isn’t making sure you have the accuracy of a sniper or that you can handle your gun like a Green Beret. Instead, the instructor will simply make sure that you know how to safely handle and operate your gun.

As you look for classes to take, one thing to be very careful to check is the instructor’s qualifications and the state’s instructor requirements. Most require either an NRA certified instructor or USCCA certified instructor. Wisconsin recognizes both.

Our recommendation? Pay a little extra now and take a course with a live fire portion. Get your Wisconsin permit right away and take some time to decide on the others.