Thursday, March 28, 2013

Training – Are You Certified?????


Certified:   : having earned certification

                     : genuine, authentic

I had a bit of an exchange between a new student, the NRA certification folks and myself regarding websites and NRA logos on an instructor’s websites. The “nut” of the clarification was that an instructor can only use the NRA logos on courses that are NRA Certified courses. These are courses that they train instructors to teach, that they provide instructional literature for, and that they ultimately provide a “NRA Certificate” for. For me, my wallet certificate looks like this:


As you look around the Internet universe for instructors and courses, it may be worthwhile to discover something about the instructor, the courses they are teaching and whether they – and their courses – are “certified.

Just what does an “Instructor Certification” mean actually? It is proof that an entity that provides a course of study for a set of knowledge or skillset has trained, evaluated and determined that an individual who was selected for “Instructor Training” has met all of their requirements to be able to teach that specific knowledge base or skill set to “new students”. Let’s take me for example. My wallet cert. card for the NRA is shown above. It shows that I have received a certification from the NRA to teach their Basic Pistol, PPITH, PPOTH, Basic Rifle, Basic Shotgun and RSO courses. Additionally, I have also received their Training Counselor certification to teach new Instructor Candidates to teach each of these specific NRA Certifications. It is your assurance that someone has taught and evaluated me before presenting me with a teaching credential.

For you, as a prospective Basic Course student or Instructor Candidate – you have a level of assurance that I have met specific criteria of the NRA to be able to consistently teach those skill sets. And, regardless of your location in the US – you can be assured that instructors in your area have met the same criteria.

Now, dealing specifically with the NRA, there seems to be a continual about their methods, their politics, their leadership, their methods . . . . the list is endless. However, often ignored is the fact they have been conducting firearms training since 1871. This is a tremendous depth of knowledge that should be taken advantage of. As prospective students – regardless of your feelings about the NRA – take advantage of this knowledge. The same goes for those of you considering becoming instructors. Take advantage of the years of course development, years of experience and tens of thousands who have gone before – it will be to your benefit.

There are other bodies that can provide consistency through certification as well. The National Shooting Sports offer a wide range of shooting and shooting safety information and video training. 4-H also has an informal shooting training and shooting safety course that can go a long way toward training instructors for their programs as well.

When you begin to evaluate “certified courses” – I would suggest you look at their history. Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, Suarez International, I.C.E. – to name a few have developed a solid reputation for coursework. Again, there are always disagreements between folks about the “value” of specific instructors, specific companies, and specific courses. However, reputable courses will always provide a detailed syllabus of what is going to be taught, what gear is required, the length of the course and the expectations of the instructors. I would urge you to migrate towards this type of course work.

Many courses also provide for individual course review by students as well – take advantage of that! If you read a review that talks about poor safety, shoddy course material, un-focused instructors . . . . you may well want to evaluate where you want to spend your money.

One other consideration is the instructor who has developed his own course work, a couple thoughts on that. Make sure the instructor is clear on what material is his/hers and what belongs to others. For example, as an NRA instructor I CAN NOT teach my Defensive Pistols courses under the banner of the NRA. It is NOT their material, they have NOT approved it. That said, I feel the Defensive Pistol course I have developed has value, it has been review by students that have taken it and found value in it – I intend to continue teaching it and enhancing it over the years.

So, are the instructors you are taking your courses from “Certified”? Are the courses they are teaching “Certified”? It’s worth your time to look, to evaluate them and to continue to grow and push yourself as a shooter.

Are you, as an Instructor, “Certified”??

Why yes, yes I am.

Don’t be afraid to ask, don’t be afraid to investigate, don’t be afraid to question . . . . it’s your money, you deserve the best!!


  1. Good points... But 9502 designator is a 'tad' out of date... LOL

    1. :) . . . Been long enough I don't even remember the AF training designators. Long ago, far away . . . . :)