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Hi everyone, first thread for me. I'm looking in to getting a handgun permit when I turn 21. I found the application for Onondaga county online, and I had a couple questions.
1. Do you have to be 21 to take the required pistol safety course, or can I take it ahead of time (before I turn 21) to cut down on the time after I turn 21 when I can purchase my handgun?
2. References- I've read the requirements for references, and I'm wondering just how much emphasis they put on your references when reviewing the application. I went to a private high school where most of my friends were from other counties (I'm just barely in Onondaga county myself, literally 1 mile from Cayuga) and most of my friends who DO live in Onondaga are my age or younger. It will therefore be a little challenging to get 4 references from people who really know me the day I turn 21, who are themselves 21 and living in Onondoga, especially because most everyone is in college right now, and therefore will be out of the area. Would I be at a disadvantage using older friends of the family / hunting buddies, who may not necessarily know me really well on a personal level?
3. I don't have much interest in applying for a concealed carry license in NYS, seeing as how it's extremely hard to get one. I will most likely get a sportsman's license so I can carry while hunting / hiking, etc. I do have a concern though. In our part of the state, rabies is a problem, and I often go running on my block. I have, in the past couple years, been chased by 2 animals (a wild dog and a raccoon) while out running, one of which turned out to be rabid. Would a sportsman's license allow me to carry while running on backroads (ie. does this count as 'hiking'), or, if not, is this a valid reason to be issued a carry permit?

Thanks in advance for the help, and sorry for the wall of text =). I'm just REALLY looking forward to getting my pistol permit and I want to know all I can about the process beforehand to try and speed it up.
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