Sunday, March 16, 2014

Training Course Review - NRA PPITH Instructor 3-15-2014


Ya gotta do the work . . .

Being on the instructor side of the table during a course is an interesting experience. You have specific knowledge you want to give to your “students” (honestly at my age/our age you are sharing with peers – yet this weekend I was the instructor). You want to evaluate skillsets, provide training to hone them and finally test their knowledge and skill level.

Ya gotta do the work . . .

I detailed earlier what my preparations were – about 15-20 hours of study and a couple hours of range work for polish. That was for me . . . what about the instructor candidates?

I view the NRA Personal Protection Inside the Home as the introduction to true defensive shooting. You begin the process of teaching students about the “tool of last resort” to defend themselves. This covers everything from evaluating your defensive perimeter to how to engage a threat at close quarter with multiple combat effective hits. It’s a busy day for the student . . . not to mention the Instructor Candidate.

As an Instructor Candidate a real burden is placed on them to know the skillset required, to truly understand the material being presented and to actually demonstrate these abilities to someone like me, a Training Counselor. Like I said . . . Ya gotta do the work!

I last taught this course in September and honestly I wanted to beef it up a bit from the instructor side. So I made some changes in the process . . .

A range half-day: To evaluate a person’s shooting skills you simply must see them on the range. While simply running the candidate through the shooting qualification would provide me the ability to see their current level of skill . . . it would do nothing to let me help polish it. So, I added a voluntary ½ day on the range. We began with a simple “5-rounds on the dot” drill, worked through an “extend, touch, press” drill and finally ended up – 3 hours or so later, with the “accelerated pairs” qualification round. The result? Each candidate improved, learned some new teaching techniques and – qualified easily by the range secession’s end. It was a good addition.

Actually teach the PPITH course first: The requirement for becoming a PPITH instructor candidate is to be a Basic Pistol Instructor. That’s it. I noticed during my September course we spent as much time expanding on each topic as the candidates were actually teaching it. So, this time – I taught the entire PPITH course first – then moved into the instructor course. BIG improvement IMHO, allowing the candidates more ability to provide deep discussions on each and every topic in the PPITH course. I will do this from now on.

SIRT range work first: I rotate candidates between each range drill making them use the range commands, monitor the “students” (the other candidates) and become comfortable being in charge on the shooting line. This can be done in the classroom which was nice because it was in the very low 40s, a bit windy with 6 inches of water to wade through to get to the firing line. While that can certainly be done in a live-fire exercise – use of the SIRT pistols in the class room on the “range” we set up has really improved the way this portion of the course flowed. Again, something I will continue across the spectrum of NRA and my own course work.

Finally – Conduct the PPITH Instructor Course: Of course, the whole idea here is that the candidates actually conduct the course for each other. It’s a good technique with feedback provided by their fellow candidates throughout the process. The change for me this time, with the additional range session and me actually teaching the PPITH course first was that the presentations seems more crisp, provided much more depth and actually became much more of an actual teaching process than simply gaining experience standing in front of a class room presenting information.

Ya gotta do the work . . . for me that was the 15-20 hours course study and a couple hours’ worth of range work for polish.

For the candidates it looked like 3+ hours of range time and then shooting a qualification round, going through a full presentation of the PPITH course and finally teaching the whole course back to each other.

Honestly, they did the work . . . and it showed both in their instructor test scores as well as their shooting on their qualification targets.

Terry, Mike, Lori, Laura and Bobbi . . . you guys did great! Thanks for coming! I’ll look forward to hearing about your first course and how your students do! I’m confident they’ll do great! Just remember . . .

They gotta do the work!


  1. Interesting approach Bill, glad it worked out!

  2. Morning Jim - Yep, I liked this approach. I've asked the folks to post a review in response to this AAR . . . will see if they liked how it worked as well.

  3. I was one of three female students in this course and frankly I cannot say enough good things about the course and how it was presented. I really appreciated being able to spend several hours on the range on Friday. It helped calm some of the nerves that come into play when you have to shoot a test/qualification and it gave us time to get to know each other better. I feel like that helped us in the classroom as well as on the range.

    As Bill said, he also covered the PPITH Student information prior to the covering the Instructor portion. My opinion is that was exactly the right way to do it. It took more effort and even expense on Bill's part but it was great for us. I believe it also helped us when it came time to present the material. It just felt more natural.

    The SIRT range work was very beneficial. We had a much better feel for what we were doing prior to bringing live fire into it. Another great idea, Bill.

    The range work was excellent. The weather wasn't the best but it didn't matter. We performed and conducted a variety of drills and it tested some new water from a personal perspective. I can hardly wait to have fresh targets to shoot so I can shoot each drill with a fresh one and know for sure where every round went. That would not be practical in the class but I see great value in it on my own.

    As an instructor, it was obvious, Bill had done the work prior to presenting the class. Thank you for that. It made me more confident in the learning process.

    I need to stop, but want to touch on one more thing . . . there is always the discussion of men teaching women . . . can they do it, how does it go, aren't they better off if women teach women and vice-versa. NO! Not here. Absolutely nothing like that played any part in this class. We were students. Each with our own value to bring to the class and to me that is exactly what happened. I can hardly wait to take the next two classes.

  4. Hi Bill - Great job on the class this week end. I especially like the option that you gave us to shoot on Friday afternoon. Laura and I drove in from Chicago and after 4+ hours on the road it was great to get the blood moving in this old body by going directly to the range and sending some rounds down range. I know that it was NOT part of your class and that you went that extra mile to make us feel comfortable. I appreciate that!! (Laura and I would have come in on Friday anyway) God willing see you in your May Class.
    Thanks Bill, and again JOB WELL DONE!

    Terry L. Dieterle
    NRA Basic Pistol Instructor
    NRA PPITH Instructor :-)
    Illinois Certified Conceal Carry Instructor
    USCCA Certified Conceal Carry Instructor

  5. Let me start with saying this is a good course and was well taught by Bill. This is my fourth NRA Instructor course and was the best one so far. The class size was smaller which allowed for more "teaching time" for the students which I personally enjoyed. Bill provided the appropriate feedback and guidance and I believe each of us learned from the experience.

    I did not participate in the range time on Friday but from all of the positive feedback I heard from the other students wish I would have taken the time to do so. I believe any range time is better than none and the more the better.

    Great Job Bill. I really appreciate the time you spent to prepare because it showed in your delivery of the course and I got a lot from it.

    Michael A. Nickles
    NRA Instructor - Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun and PPITH

  6. Bill, adding the range day to the weekend really added value to this course. Your instruction was spot on and I really liked the different drill we performed over the weekend. Your help tweaking my gun handling skills were very appreciated. This was a wonderful class with lots of interaction between all. Thank you!
    Laura Andersen
    NRA Instructor, Pistol,Rifle,Shotgun, PPITH and RSO

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  8. Bill - great class. It was extremely educational and I enjoyed all of it. The SIRT and live range drills were great and you giving us the time on Friday to practice and get the certification out of the way was a tremendous help. Looking forward to the next two classes - hubby and I are off to the range!!

    Thanks again, Lori

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