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Firearm instructor

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by NorabDer9961, Jun 5, 2020.

  1. NorabDer9961

    NorabDer9961 Member

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    I want to start my own range and be able to offer and instruct courses, especially concealed carry. All my research point to the NRA to become qualified. Is there any other channels to obtain a license to instruct other than through the NRA?
     
  2. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    That indeed is a problem. As far as I know, the NRA is the only source of instructor certification, and at the moment the NRA is having troubles of its own.

    On the other hand, "firearms instructor" is not an officially state-sanctioned occupation, like a doctor or lawyer. So there is nothing to stop you from self-certifying, and hanging out your shingle on your own.

    Now, realize that what you are wanting to do is start a business. That involves both capital (monetary investment) and knowledge / skills. You might want to consider putting up the capital (providing the physical facilities), and then hiring one or more people who are already certified as instructors. I would suggest the first step should be to develop a business plan.
     
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  3. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Member

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    NRA is pretty much the standard for firearm instructors......much like ASE Certified mechanic is to the automotive field.
     
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  4. earplug

    earplug Member

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    The NRA has a near monopoly on training and certifying citisens, LEO and the instructors. One advantage of NRA certification is getting insurance for your range and instruction.
    Don't stop with the NRA after getting certified. Seek out other forms of instruction and competition.
     
  5. GEM

    GEM Moderator Staff Member

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    1. What experience do you have in running a small business? This is the most important. Taxes, local codes, benefits, employment law, zoning, environmental requirements, insurance, running complex equipment. Most ranges are moving beyond square paper targets.
    2. What is your capitalization as you won't make a profit for quite a bit of time?
    3. What do you know about supervising employees and finding qualified ones? Your buddies will screw you.
    4. Are you reading industry publications such as Shooting Industry?
    5. Opening a new business during the pandemic seems a bad idea. How does that influence your business plan?
    6. It's not about the guns, most places make money on accessories.
    7. I see folks saying that the NRA is the place for training. That indicates to me that you don't know the industry. Their training is a minimal standard at best. Do you know who Tom Givens and Massad Ayoob are? They offer intense instructor training which is seen as the real gold standard as compared to NRA courses.
    8. What is your experience that is relevant? Law, military, are you a higher level competitor in one of the sports, such as IDPA, Steel or USPSA Ranges make money by associating with matches. What courses have you taken from known experts in the shooting, training and competition industries?
    9. What is the local market and competition?
    10. Google sources like activeresponsetraining.net or https://www.luckygunner.com/ to get some tips on good vs. bad instructors.

    Most new businesses fail - about 80%. Things to think about.
     
  6. marvin02

    marvin02 Member

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    United States Concealed Carry Association is another training/certification option. I am not endorsing them, just throwing the name in the hat. You'll have to be exceedingly confident and competent to offer instruction.
     
  7. 1942bull
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    1942bull Contributing Member

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    Take heed to what @AlexnderA and @GEM wrote about business. I spent 20 years in the photography business and 15 years running a business association of self employed professional photographers. I am the author of five trade books about the various aspects of running a photography business. I can assure you that most individuals who start small business fail unless they have first dealt with the factors mentioned by the two members. I witnessed hundreds of really expert photographers go out of business because they did not understand business. Expert skill sets do not mean business success. Expert business management is much more important. You are worrying about the least of your problems in starting a firearms instruction business. That talent can be hired or you can acquire the ability to do that yourself. But before you spent time and money you should create a vision of your imagined business and then create a business plan including financial projection and budget, market research and marketing plan, and a personal budget to determine Howard and how you can handle the drain of a start up business. As you get that done you can get qualified or come up with a convincing pitch that you are expert enough to be a good instructor. Good luck in your endeavor. Oh do not forget the cost of insurance for a business that teaches self defense and gun instruction. One bad thing could bankrupt you without adequate insurance.
     
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  8. GEM

    GEM Moderator Staff Member

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    I would also add to my list:

    How are your people skills? What do you know about dealing with gender, race and ethnicity issues in today's world?
    Will your staff?

    If you read Shooting Industry, you will see how the female market is expanding and becoming more important. Have to be able to market to such. Your place of business should be ideologically friendly. Have a political slant that is obvious and obnoxious and that will cut down on your customer base.

    I've seen two startups be full of 'tough guy' big bellies that were arrogant and thus they sunk quickly.
     
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  9. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    IMO. The NRA courses while fairly basic, have pretty good course material and training for what they are - entry level stuff. If you want to go beyond that there are other options.

    But, most students are really only interested in the basics and if you take the NRA instructor courses, pay attention, and work as an assistant instructor a few times with an experienced guy you will probably do fine teaching the course as long as you stick to the actual course and what the NRA wants you to teach in that course.

    Like most businesses, the things you don't know about going in are what will kill you. Like the importance of being capitalized well enough to survive the lean times. A lot of community colleges have classes on some of the basics of running a small business that you might be well advised to look into. Along with some basic accounting so you know whether you are really making any money or not.

    People tend to think small businesses are lucrative, but most small business owners could probably make as much or more working for someone else, and work a lot less hours and have a lot fewer headaches.
     
  10. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    A few suggestions:
    • Analyze what and where your market is.
    • Look at the competition.
    • Decide what particular products and services you intend to try to provide.
    • Decide how you will do that, and with what human and other resources.
    • Develop a business plan and have it evaluated by an independent source.
    • Do all that in conjunction with what GEM and 1942bull have recommended.
     
  11. GEM

    GEM Moderator Staff Member

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    Social Distancing is to be considered. Restaurants are struggling with spacing requirements. I've been to ranges where each lane is occupied and can have two people. That density going to be viable anymore?

    I wonder if the air cleaning requirements will be influenced?
     
  12. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

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    All I will say is, this is not a business you go into on your own with no experience in the field. GEM makes some quite good points and asks some very good questions.

    LEO? Every state I've worked in, the state law enforcement academy certifies LE firearms instructors; the NRA isn't involved at all.
     
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  13. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Good put.

    And it bears repeating.

    Consider also that there are different kinds of instruction--basic firearms safety and handling, shooting competencies, defensive shooting, and more.
     
  14. giggitygiggity

    giggitygiggity Member

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    My understanding is that NRA courses are rather generic although they may have valuable information. Nothing fancy or high speed, but the knowledge and skills are proven. The major advantage is that there are some states which require concealed carry permit applicants to take a concealed carry class taught by NRA certified instructors. If it were me, I would get NRA certifications as a “check in the box” regardless of whether I thought the courses to be worthwhile. Depending on your locality, you might gain a customer base if people have to obtain instruction from an NRA certified instructor. After becoming NRA certified, I would seek additional training and certifications from non-NRA sources (Haley Strategic, Tactical Response, Thunder Ranch, Valor Ridge, SIG Academy, etc) to expand/diversify your knowledge and build a more robust resume.
     
  15. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    SAF has instructor certification. https://www.saftd.org/

    BUT, certification alone doesn't make you a competent trainer. You must be both technically competent with the firearms and systems you will be instructing AND you must be a competent as a trainer in communicting. These are two different sets of skill. I'd rather have an excellent trainer that can diagnose all of the barriers to my learning the system being taught and communicate the solutions to me than a superb shooter that can't effectively communicate or diagnose. It is challenging to find both in the same person.
     
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  16. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

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    I have to add that I know a number of guys who are tactically proficient and awesome shooters -- but are lousy instructors. This includes guys I know who've survived both law enforcement gunfights and firefights while in the military.

    The fact that you like firearms and enjoy shooting, and might even be a pretty doggone good shooter, don't necessarily equate to your possibly being a competent instructor.

    Finally, once one obtains some type of certification in the field, one absolutely must commit to being a life-long learner. Experiencing other instructors' courses (Tom Givens comes to mind, and the aforementioned training centers others mentioned, plus I'd add Firearms Academy of Seattle and Gunsite) is a must. Not only do you need to stay current, there's always more to learn, which you can then impart to your students.

    Trust me, it gets expensive. I have to budget a couple thousand (minimum) a year for training on my own.
     
  17. bangswitch

    bangswitch Member

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    The NRA Basic Instructor cases are thorough; each is focused on the type firearm, so you need their Handgun Instructor course, their Rifle instructor course and their Shotgun instructor course.

    If you plan to conduct activities at a range, you also need to take the Chief Range Safety Officer course. However, if you are giving instruction at the range and it is open to other shooters, you cannot act as Range Safety Officer while instructing.

    Concealed Carry classes are generally conducted by instructors certified by the state they are teaching in.

    I had all 5 certifications: NRA Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun and Chief Range Safety Officer, and I was certified through the North Carolina Department of Justice as a Concealed Carry Instructor. There are yearly renewal fees to keep the certifications, and costs for training materials. NC requires teaching either the NRA firearm safety course with their class, or the NCDOJ firearm safety course, and you have to use their printed materials, which you have to buy through the state. I had to attend a two day class at NC's Justice Academy for the CC Instructor. I let all my certificates lapse after a couple of years. I didn't like having to pay NRA each year to "stay current", when all I was doing was paying them a fee to call myself an instructor. Now, the state of your residence may have a different setup than mine, so investigate accordingly.

    As for the CC Instructor, there is a liability involved you may want to consider. I can't think of a better way to describe it than by saying the #1 question you'll get asked while teaching CC is, "If I'm doing XXXX, and somebody comes at me YYYY, can I shoot them?" If you tell them yes, and they end up in a shooting incident, regardless of whether or not it was justified, you'll be testifying in court if they say during the investigation "my CC instructor said I could shoot the guy". Is it worth that to you? You'll need to know your state's firearms laws back to front and top to bottom, and most of the class is devoted to laws pertaining to when and where concealed carry is legal, and more importantly, illegal, and situations when you may have to defend yourself with deadly force. Who is the aggressor, and escalation of force. It's a helluva lot more involved than teaching how to hide the gun on yourself.
    And then there are the business aspects of operating the range, which I know nothing about.
     
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  18. WheelGunMan

    WheelGunMan Member

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    I'm a certified MCRGO CPL (Concealed Pistol License) instructor in Michigan. MCOLES (Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards) is the governing body that mandates what organizations can offer CPL training in the state. In Michigan the conceal carry programs are offered through the NRA, USCCA or MCRGO. One must be certified to instruct thru one of these organizations to be able to issue a certificate to an individual so as to obtain a CPL. I'm pretty sure all states have similar boards that control the licensing process.
     
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  19. Mark1964

    Mark1964 Member

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    You might want to use the NRA course locator https://www.nrainstructors.org/search.aspx
    The basic pistol instructor course will take you a weekend (two, 8 hour days plus some time for lunch and breaks) and probably run you in the area of $300 to $350. Then you can see where you want go from there.
    The NRA then offers a number of other pistol instructor courses including Personal Protection Inside the Home, Personal Protection Outside the Home and Concealed Carry.
    Which, if any of those, would qualify to teach in your state varies by state.
    And, as a poster alluded to earlier, the NRA offers two range safety officer course: RSO and Chief RSO. The latter allows you to teach their RSO course and, in theory at least, supervise RSOs.
    Some good info in the posts here. Be warned, there's some up-front investment: your time, course costs, travel, teaching aids, liability insurance (check out Lockton Risk), etc.
    The entire process can be a bit of a long row to hoe -- unless you enjoy the classes and the camaraderie, in which case it can be quite fun and a chance to meet some good people.
    And, as others have noted, being able to do is not the same as being able to teach. The latter can be studied, though, especially by working with and taking instruction from masterful instructors and training counselors (the NRA's instructors of instructors). Enthusiasm, tolerance for your fellow human beings and an open mind are all big pluses.
    Running your own business ... a whole 'nother skill set.
    I have several of the NRA instructor certs: basic pistol, rifle and shotgun, PPITH and PPOTH, RSO and CRSO, Refuse to be a Victim, and Level I Shotgun Coach.
    That said, I've never run my own biz nor wanted to. Been an extra hand to instructors who do run their own businesses and been a volunteer for various shoots/matches.
    I have enjoyed it, but I'm kind of retired from that at present. Were I to return to it, I would re-up my liability insurance.
    Good luck.
     
  20. GEM

    GEM Moderator Staff Member

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    Look at https://rangemaster.com/ and click on the classes tab for instructor development classes. Highly recommended by the industry. It's a good point that just being a good shooter doesn't translate to being a good teacher. We had a national champ, great guy - if you took a class from him, his instructions were to shoot faster.

    You need to be able to look at a grip, stance, sighting approach, etc. and coach the student on these. Tom Givens (above), looked at my grip and solved a flaw I had for quite a few years. I become a much better shot. I could go through a match with a 1911 and only be 3 points down. Thanks to Tom. Still a slow old toot though.
     
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  21. GEM

    GEM Moderator Staff Member

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  22. Craig_VA
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    Craig_VA Contributing Member

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    You need multiple NRA Instructor certifications (one for each weapon type and one for each specific course you will teach) as a general signal to folks that you are approaching the training as a professional. Showing NRA certification is key to marketing your courses.

    You need instructor training from Givens, Ayoob, and others of their ilk to actually develop into a true professional trainer. Repeat customers will want quality technical training beyond the legally required minimums.

    If you plan to train in detail on self defense issues, I highly recommend you complete Andew Branca's LoSD Instructor certification. That will help you avoid giving ill-advised or
    incorrect advice to your students.

    You need to to qualify as an approved instructor for your state's concealed carry training required for CC permit or license (if your state has such) because most of your initial contact with potential students will be folks wanting to check the box to get their permits. This is also part of your marketing efforts.

    Other advice above regarding small business operations is completely relevant, too.

    Good luck!
     
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  23. EIB0879

    EIB0879 Member

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    One way to get NRA certifications is to do the courses through the BSA. I did the rifle cert as an Asst Scoutmaster for a large troop. I followed up and did the RSO course by correspondence since I already had an Instructor credential. I did it because my son was in Boy Scouts at the time and they didn't care about my military experience running ranges. The courses I took were at a reduced rate.

    You might also get some future customers.
     
  24. GEM

    GEM Moderator Staff Member

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    I think we need some feedback now from the OP as to the suggestions.
     
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  25. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm Member

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    Your state will likely require you to take THEIR class as far as concealed carry is concerned.

    The very fact that you even have to ask this question is evidence you're woefully unprepared to start down this road.
     
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