Our Story


So, how did we settle on the name “Dakota”? Dakota was the name of our late dog. He was our protector, so we thought the name “just fit”.

Dakota Firearms Training Academy, the brainchild of Gary Wolf, was borne out of a tragedy. Back in 2016, on Sunday, June 13, while watching the early morning news, a story broke that simply pissed Gary off. A few hours earlier around “last call”, a sociopath named Omar Mateen stormed into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and began shooting into the crowd, killing 49 people and wounding 53. The melee ended only when SWAT took care of the shooter.

So later that Sunday afternoon, Father’s Day actually, Gary, a rifle and shotgun owner since his father first taught him to shoot as a young child, bought his first handgun…a Father’s Day present to himself. Shortly thereafter, he took his wife and his two daughters to the range and taught them how to safely and responsibly shoot that first handgun. A little while later, after his wife gained confidence in her shooting skills, she bought her first handgun.

Gary often wondered about that night at the Pulse. What if at least one club patron was carrying concealed? Could more lives have been saved? Could the shooter have been stopped prior to SWAT stopping him? If Gary was there, could he have stopped the shooter? What could he do to help others from becoming victims of violent crimes? To address these nagging questions, he became an NRA Certified Pistol and Concealed Carry Instructor, and started Dakota Firearms Training Academy. He now teaches anyone who has chosen for themself to no longer be a potential victim how to safely, responsibly and legally handle and carry a firearm, through both “hands on” classroom training and live-fire range training. While his classes are open to anyone, he specializes in those who have never touched or picked up a handgun, but are contemplating becoming a gun owner.

But the training is not just Gary’s alone. He’s partnered with the Pennsylvania State Police, the best Pennsylvania gun law attorney, and Pennsylvania pro-2nd Amendment legislators who willingly share their knowledge to students about concealed carrying in Pennsylvania, pending 2nd Amendment bills in Harrisburg, and the legalities associated with being a gun owner. Gary wants all his students to be as well-educated as they choose to be to determine in their own mind if gun ownership is for them.

So, if you are contemplating becoming a gun owner or are already a gun owner who could use some more training, why not let Dakota Firearms Training Academy help you reach your goals. Check out the Training menu to see when the next class is being held.