It is important to provide quality firearms training to your students. This may appear to be an obvious statement, but there are quite a few instructors who do not do a good job teaching others.
You may be following a lesson plan from the NRA or USCCA. If you are teaching those lessons, then you should be okay. Be sure you know the lesson plans well.
Safety should be your primary concern when you are teaching your classes. Take a good look at the lesson plans from other organizations to ensure you deliver a complete class.
If you issue certificates, be sure they comply with your state’s law. For example, Colorado requires a basic gun safety class by an NRA instructor. This becomes cumbersome because the NRA does not allow you to publish your NRA Instructor number on a certificate that is not an NRA-approved class.
The easiest workaround is to issue your certificate and a copy of your NRA instructor certification to your students. On your certificate, you have a signature line. Below the signature line, you have a statement “Certified Firearms Instructor” (without your NRA number). This meets the NRA restrictions and your state requirements to issue the certificate.
There are many certification programs available. You have your choice of Level 1 Firearms Training, NRA, Sig Sauer, USCCA, and others. All programs are essentially the same. Your goal is to get qualified firearms training from a third-party organization that essentially endorses your skills as an instructor.
Level 1 Firearms Training, LLC
Level 1 Firearms Training focuses on the art of being a firearms instructor. Being able to hit the bullseye consistently does not mean you know how to teach. Level 1 Firearms Training takes a more “Academic” approach to training. Instead of focusing solely on basic gun training (which it teaches), Level 1 Firearms Training takes a “Scholarly” approach to teaching. They want you to receive the best quality firearms training. Level 1 Firearms Training believes once you qualify as an instructor, your focus should be on how to teach others by using their modern gun training techniques.
The NRA is the most recognized training because its long-term training began in 1871. It’s the most portable certification in existence today. Portable means flexibility. You can take your certification to any state, and your training will be recognized. During your Level 1 Firearms Instructor Training, you will become certified as a Level 1 Firearms Training Instructor, and an NRA or USCCA instructor. Be aware, some states, such as Utah and Texas, require you to attend their state-sponsored concealed carry class to teach.
Sig Sauer Academy is one of the best in the nation. As is Gun Sight, Front Site, and Thunder Mountain. Unfortunately, Sig Sauer is not in the business of meeting national standards – they are in the business of training instructors; period. An organization of this size should be nationally recognized, they are not. You will receive the best quality instructor training, but it is limited in terms of being recognized as a national firearms training academy.
Sig Sauers Instructor Certification program focuses on how to shoot accurately and proficiently. Although you may pass their instructor certification program, you are unlikely to use that certification to teach concealed carry classes in your state.
We recommend Sig Sauer Academy as a continual training opportunity. They are focused on accuracy and precision. These are skills not currently offered by the NRA or USCCA advanced training opportunities. These classes will enhance personal growth and allow you to teach more advanced classes.
USCCA is an admirable training program. Similar to NRA training, they took quality firearms training to a higher level, and the NRA is attempting to catch up. USCCA offers modern, up-to-date training materials. Their training material beats the NRA’s training materials hands down. USCCA has also become a national leader in the industry, meaning, your certification will be honored in most states. USCCA is a for-profit organization, the states that don’t recognize their training are states which require firearms certification to be presented by a non-profit organization. This means you will be locked out from a few states for instructing.
Side Note – Legal Heat
Legal Heat is a side note. To our knowledge, they do not have an instructor path. Instead, they rely on their instructors to be certified by a training company recognized by the state classes are being instructed. Legal Heat is the perfect solution for new instructors who are just starting and who want to grow their customer database. They provide the perfect opportunity to generate additional classes for your business.
Most of the certified instructor classes work at a very basic level.
The NRA Basic Instructor Training (BIT) emphasizes their courses as “basic, beginner classes” (REV 1-14, page 3).
To qualify as an instructor, you should have the knowledge, expertise, and experience to teach others. Unfortunately, many instructors are looking for a quick firearms instructor certification to meet state requirements. You can likely accomplish this with the NRA and USCCA instructor certification programs. They are not hard to qualify for, and you will likely pass regardless of experience.
There are some highlights and goals that should be met as a firearms instructor.
- Knowledge: Demonstrate your knowledge and experience during a class. You must be familiar with all types of actions. An instructor who cannot demonstrate nor operate a single-action revolver does not meet minimum pistol instructor certification requirements.
- Expertise: An instructor does not need to hit the “bullseye” every time, although that could be a personal goal. An instructor must be able to communicate and demonstrate skill improvement techniques. Assist the student in understanding those techniques, and apply them to their shooting activities. This is where our modern gun training comes into play. Not only will the student shoot better, but they will also promote your brand on social media.
- Experience: When focusing on a particular field, such as pistols, you must know the operational differences between a single-action revolver and a double-action revolver. You must be able to demonstrate how they work and discuss the pros and cons of each model. Most students will own a semi-automatic pistol. But that is not an excuse not to understand revolvers. Take your time to learn all handguns before you teach.
Quality Instructor Training is important to the instructor. As you can see, you can take lower-end courses which will certify you as an instructor. These courses are the same instruction you receive at a range when you shoot. The basic safety rules are given, and you are taught how to load and shoot the gun at the range.
To be fair, the NRA and USCCCA classes go into more detail. They are designed to provide the first-time gun owner with a wide variety of knowledge. Sometimes, it may be too much information – a phenomenon known as “Information Overload” where the student gets lost in the training process, learning little during the class.
Other organizations, such as Front Site, Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, and others, are focused on having you hit the bullseye; they forget they are teaching instructors to hone their teaching skills. This is not bad when you want to learn how to shoot more proficiently. We encourage all instructors to attend these phenomenal organizations and to learn how to shoot even better.
Level 1 Firearms Training, LLC is dedicated to instructor advancement and development. Their approach is based on academics, scholarship, and the pursuit of knowledge. They offer multiple training paths so you can save time pursuing other certifications. After basic, core training and certification classes are met, you’ll dive into using modern gun training techniques. If you are struggling with the basic principles of promoting to students and controlling finances, Level 1 Firearms Training has a class for you.