New NRA CCW Course!

The NRA has been deluged for a very long time with requests from the public for an actual NRA CCW class (as opposed to the Basics of Pistol Shooting class that is aimed at any and all legal uses of handguns). In response, the NRA announced a new modular CCW Course yesterday that will allow Instructors certified in this new discipline (Basic NRA CCW) to teach an NRA CCW class.

Thus far the existence of the course, officially named the “Basic NRA CCW” course, has not been made public. In an email to Training Counselors sent out yesterday, we were told a little about the new course and given an opportunity to sign up for one of the first two course sessions being held during the NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas at the beginning of next month. I’ll be attending the very first session and will report on what I learn there about the course.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • The course is modular so that the Instructor can teach only the portions needed to meet the requirements of their state permitting process. This means that the course can vary in length from 1 to 16 hours. It also means that a state specific, non-NRA legal module and/or live fire qualification can be included.
  • In order to become certified to teach the Basic NRA CCW course, you will have to be an NRA Pistol Instructor, successfully complete the Basic NRA CCW course (student), and successfully complete the NRA CCW Instructor course. Instructors that haven’t taken BIT in the last two years will have to take it again in order to add the new rating. (That’s a requirement for adding any new rating and a good reason to get all the ratings you plan to within that two year period.)

The course the TCs are taking is 8 hours, but I have no idea how that will translate into what Instructor Candidates will have to take. I strongly suspect that the student version the Instructor Candidates have to first take will be 8+ hours and the Instructor class will also be 8+ hours.

My suspicion is that the NRA CCW course will take sections from the Basics of Pistol Shooting and Defensive Pistol in order to create the modules. If that’s what was done, it should be an excellent course!

Some reasons you might want to consider adding this rating (when it becomes available) include:

  • This is a way to differentiate your classes from the typical 1-3 hour CCW classes seen everywhere. This will be an actual NRA class with an NRA certificate. Until I’ve seen the actual modules, it’s hard to say how long a minimum course  for Florida will be, but it’s entirely conceivable that it could be around 4+/- hours.
  • You’ll be teaching NRA approved curriculum instead of something you created yourself. Unless you have the credentials to be developing curriculum yourself (NRA civilian ratings DO NOT provide those credentials), this makes the new NRA CCW class particularly attractive.
  • Since NRA CCW classes ARE NRA classes, you’ll be able to register them on the Instructor Portal. This means that your classes will show up in searches anyone does on the website. Despite the trashing from the main stream media, the NRA remains the most respected source of firearm training and people will seek out these classes when they are publicly announced.
  • The modular format of the class means that you can easily break it down into multiple sessions/days. You could even break it into the initial class covering all of the necessary modules and then additional classes covering other modules. Some very successful trainers are already employing this tactic to increase attendance.

We will update you when we know more and when we have classes scheduled.

Calendar of Upcoming Training Classes

Listing of All Upcoming Training Classes

NRA Instructor Class Expectations

Before I go to a training class, I try to find out everything I can about what I’m going to learn, what I’m going to do, what is expected of me. I want to know how is the class going to help me toward reaching my goals and pretty much anything else that comes to mind. Hopefully this post will answer some of those questions for those of you that are contemplating becoming an NRA Instructor or already  signed up for an NRA Instructor class.

The NRA requires that the Instructor Candidate successfully complete the Basics of Pistol Shooting student class prior to the two day Instructor class. Effective 1/1/2018, the same is now true for all Instructor disciplines.

What an NRA Instructor Class Is

NRA Instructor LogoThe NRA Pistol Instructor class is two days with the first being Basic Instructor Training (BIT) and the second being the Pistol Instructor training. BIT is the NRA way of teaching a class and is very good. I was already a college professor before taking BIT and I found it helped me immensely in teaching.

The second day delves into specifically teaching the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting curriculum.  Day two of the Instructor class is learning how to teach the class, not the actual information that is presented to the students—that was learned in the preceding student class.

There are multiple exercises over the two days where the Instructor Candidates teach sections of the class. Each time an Instructor Candidate makes a presentation to the class, with the other’s playing the role of students, they are evaluated by their classmates. (This is why the NRA requires a minimum of four Instructor Candidates in an Instructor class.) The evaluation is conducted by the Training Counselor with the class first providing positives about the presentation, followed by improvements that can be made in the presentation style, and then the positives are reviewed.

Negatives are not allowed in the evaluation. For example, saying that the presenter did a terrible job presenting the section is not allowed. Instead, an improvement that could be shared with the presenter might be to ensure that all of the important points of the section are covered.

Each day has its own written examination. They are open book and require a minimum of 90% to pass.

At the end of the class, those that have passed the two examinations, passed the shooting qualification, passed the firearm handling requirements, demonstrated an absolute commitment to safety, and demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary to be an NRA Pistol Instructor will be certified (after registering and paying a $50 non-member or $30 member certification fee).

What an NRA Instructor Class Isn’t

There is more to certification than paying for/attending a class. The class is for well experienced shooters. In order to become a certified NRA Instructor, you must demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary for an NRA Instructor. The class will require your active participation and attention. Merely attending the class does not guarantee that you will become certified; it provides you the opportunity to achieve certification.

Instructor Candidates are expected to already have a firm knowledge of firearms and shooting. The NRA Pistol Instructor class is intended to teach candidates with that knowledge and skills how to teach the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course. The class is not a remedial shooting skills course—you should be able to pass the shooting qualification before you attend the class. (20 rounds fired from 45 feet at a nine inch target with a minimum of sixteen hits within a six inch circle.) If you can’t shoot to this level, seek out an Instructor that can help get you to this level before the class. Failing the qualification means not getting certified.

Staying in Your Lane

One thing that many Training Counselors fail to stress is that being an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor does NOT mean that you are qualified to teach anything you would like to—actually, the NRA is only going to certify you to teach the Basics of Pistol Shooting student class (four different versions),  a Gun Safety Seminar, a Women On Target class, and a laser marksmanship class— nothing more.

Absent other instructing certifications, an NRA Pistol Instructor is way out of their lane in teaching anything beyond basic firearm safety and handling, the fundamentals of pistol shooting, and a few other basic topics. Teaching holster draw, concealed carry, and anything “tactical” is well beyond the limited instructor training they have received and potentially opens them up to substantial civil liability should one of their students discharge a firearm and cause an injury.

An NRA Pistol Instructor desiring to be able to teach true concealed carry classes, which would include teaching drawing and firing from a holster, would need to go through the process to become certified to teach the NRA’s Personal Protection Outside The Home (PPOTH). That process involves first becoming an NRA Personal Protection In The Home Instructor (PPITH). As the NRA requires taking the student course of a discipline before taking the Instructor version, the order of classes for someone that is already a Pistol Instructor is: PPITH student > PPITH Instructor > PPOTH student (Basic & Advanced) > PPOTH Instructor.

What to Expect

The first thing to understand is that the class is really three days worth of material forcefully compressed into two days. The pace has to be fast in order to meet all of the objectives. Some topics will only be touched upon and you will need to do your own studying after the class is completed. Above all, you need to be paying attention.

Strategic Outfitters Classroom

Don’t expect this to be one of those classes where you can be a passive observer. NRA Instructor classes are highly interactive—you are expected be an active participant and will be presenting to the class multiple times. You’ll also be expected to work with your classmates to put together presentations.

Hint: pay careful attention when you take the required Basics of Pistol Shooting class for students as you’re going to be expected to know the information taught there and are going to be teaching that same information during your Instructor class.

The range portion of Day 2 is particularly fun and educational. The Instructor Candidates are paired up and take turns being the “student” and the “Instructor”. We have highly skilled shooters shoot with their non-dominant hand when playing the role of student. The idea of the range exercise is to give each Instructor Candidate an opportunity to help a “student” to correct any errors in the shooting fundamentals.

Attitude

Hopefully you noticed that I keep italicizing attitude. I do so to draw attention to how important your attitude is. NRA Instructors, first and foremost, should have a genuine desire to help others to learn how to safely handle, fire, and store firearms. They should want to help others to be safe, confident, and proficient gun owners and to help their students to reach their goals with firearms.

I stress in my Instructor classes that they must focus on the needs of their students. They must put themselves into the students’ shoes and ensure they meet the students’ needs. Every class you teach will be different because every class will be made up of different people with different knowledge, skills, and attitudes—especially attitudes towards guns.

By reminding the Instructor Candidates how nervous they feel in getting up in front of the class, they can empathize with the student that is nervous in handling a firearm, perhaps for the first time in their life.

Wrapping Up

This post was quite long and had a lot of information in it—just like your Instructor class will be. Come prepared to have long days filled with learning!

Training Counselor: One Night Stand or Relationship?

I’ve written before about choosing a firearms Instructor, but what about if you are looking to become or already are an NRA Instructor seeking a Training Counselor? (Training Counselors train Instructors.) The basics of choosing an Instructor apply to choosing a Training Counselor and links to my posts on the topic are at the bottom of this one.

What follows is long, very long…
(unfortunately it needs to be)

The first question to ask is of yourself:

Are you only looking for a certificate, or are you seeking to be mentored?

If you are only looking for a certificate, you can get that with any Training Counselor. If you are looking to truly learn the material and much more in order to be a great Instructor, seek out a great Training Counselor.

If you’re seeking to choose a great Training Counselor, it should be a long term relationship. Paying attention to the factors outlined below won’t guarantee you find one, but it will substantially improve your odds.

Traits of a Great Training Counselor

  • Open Book
  • Follows NRA Rules
  • Stays Current
  • Is a Mentor
  • Is a Student
  • Teaches
  • Knows their Limitations

Open Book

Do you want to take a class from someone that appears to be in witness protection, held at an undisclosed location that you’ll find out only after registering for the class?

There is a very limited amount of text that can be placed into the comments section of a class listing on the NRA’s Instructor portal and it’s impossible to get a complete picture of the quality of a class from it. A Training Counselor can put website addresses into the comments, however, to lead a potential student to information sources. Evaluate what they put into the comments for the class: are the comments designed to give you information to make an informed choice; are the comments solely about classes they have taken; are there no comments, minimal comments, or aloof comments?

One of the first steps to choosing a Training Counselor is to do an Internet search on their name and another on their business name (putting the name into quotes such as ” John Doe” often helps focus on the right person/company).  What can be found in a few minutes spent doing research can be tremendously enlightening.

Where are the classes being held? If it is an undisclosed location that will only be revealed after registering and you are seriously considering that Training Counselor, contact them to ask why they are concealing that information and the exact location BEFORE you register. You have a RIGHT to know where and in what environment a class will be held before you register for it.

Do an Internet search for the address of the class. In some instances, you’ll find that it is the Training Counselor’s home. Depending on the arrangements, being in someone’s home could be awkward and a poor learning environment, or it could be comfortable and a good learning environment. Regardless, it almost certainly means that range portions of classes are held somewhere else; contact them to find out the location of the range they use—Google/Bing/etc. the range location.

If shooting portions of the class are held at a “private range”, you should ensure that it is safe (has an adequate backstop well above the targets—you are responsible for every bullet that leaves your gun, whether in a class or not) and that it is actually insured commercially as a firing range (don’t be afraid to ask for proof).

Follows NRA Rules

The NRA’s firearm training programs for both students and Instructor Candidates are well thought out, as are the rules for teaching them. Instructors and Training Counselors must teach the curriculum completely and as it is designed; they can add supplemental information, but they can’t skip parts.

By not following the program as it is designed, Training Counselors are depriving the Instructor Candidates of receiving the training experience that they paid for and need to be prepared for teaching their own students. Two of the most common areas where this happens is insufficient Instructor Candidates and not having them conduct the range portion.

NRA HQ requires that there are a minimum of four Instructor Candidates in a class. This is because the Instructor Candidates are supposed to take turns actually teaching the student class for the discipline certification they are seeking (Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Personal Protection Inside The House, etc.). They are also supposed to be broken into groups for certain modules; working in groups shows the value of team teaching. Absent the most extreme and compelling reasons, a Training Counselor holding a class with just one or two Instructor Candidates is an absolute violation of NRA rules.

Failing to have the Instructor Candidates conduct the range portion of the class is a particularly egregious violation of NRA Rules. The Instructor Candidates are supposed to be learning how to conduct the range exercises of that particular discipline. The best way to actually learn it is to conduct it under the watchful eye of the Training Counselor.

Stays Current

The firearms training world is constantly evolving; the same goes for the NRA training program. A Training Counselor needs to be constantly seeking out the latest information. This requires reading a great variety of information sources and being actively involved in online groups and forums for firearm trainers, especially those targeted at NRA Training Counselors.

This, however, doesn’t mean adopting the latest, greatest, cutting-edge training/tactic/etc. and passing it along. The great Training Counselor evaluates everything they are going to teach, personally vetting it. We live in a media driven world where everyone in the firearms industry is trying to make a name for themselves by “inventing” the latest training/tactic/etc. and marketing it through social media. It’s the responsibility of the Training Counselor to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Is a Mentor

The NRA concept of a Training Counselor is that they don’t just teach Instructor Candidates, they mentor them so that they can become the best possible Instructors. The relationship isn’t supposed to end after the class ends—Instructors are supposed to take their questions to their Training Counselor. If the Training Counselor doesn’t know the answer to an NRA related question, it’s their responsibility to contact NRA HQ, get an answer, provide it back to the Instructor, and know it the next time an Instructor asks.

Mentoring doesn’t end with NRA questions, it includes the vast array of knowledge about firearms, firearm training, business, teaching, and more.

The great Training Counselor doesn’t see other Instructors, or even other Training Counselors as competitors. They share their knowledge so that the training industry can evolve, making it better for students. They want to see others succeed, raising the bar and thereby the quality of available training.

Is a Student

It is said so frequently in the firearm training world that it has become cliche, but it remains true that a great teacher is foremost a great student. The great Training Counselor thirsts for knowledge and seeks it continually.

This can include taking training offered by other firearm trainers, but it must also include studying things such as adult learning and methods of instruction, shooting issue diagnostics, legal, trauma response, and anything else that impacts upon them, the Instructors they train, and the students of those Instructors.

Teaches

Teaching is far different from instructing. Instructing is delivering material typically developed by someone else. Teaching includes instructing, but the great Training Counselor takes steps to ensure not just that the material is covered, but that the material is learned and understood by their Instructor Candidates. The great Training Counselor can also add their own material that enhances what is learned and retained.

The great Training Counselor understands that people learn in different ways. They have the knowledge and teaching skills to present important points in ways that all of the Instructor Candidates can grasp and retain. Any stories they tell will be aimed at illustrating a learning objective, not self-aggrandizement.

Knows their Limitations

The great Training Counselor is keenly aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. They aren’t afraid to admit they don’t know the answer to a question, but they will either seek out the answer or refer the Instructor to someone that knows it.

Likewise, a great Training Counselor isn’t afraid to refer students to other Training Counselors and Instructors, especially if the training being sought is better received from someone else.

Evaluating Options When Selecting an NRA Training Counselor

First and foremost, you should consider the Return On Investment (ROI) of the training dollars you are going to invest. One of the worst mistakes you can make is allowing price to be a deciding factor—value is the appropriate yardstick.

Pricing set by a Training Counselor may be based on any of a variety of factors:

  • What are their financial expectations?
    • full-time occupation
    • part-time occupation
    • hobby
  • What is their investment in training?
    • training classes they have taken
    • training aids they have purchased (SIRT pistols, computer simulators, etc.)
    • do they lease a dedicated storefront
    • do they own a dedicated facility
  • What is the level of their experience and expertise?
  • What is their reputation?

Of course, those factors don’t always enter into the Training Counselor’s pricing method. Some will simply seek to undercut the price of everyone else so that they get  Instructor Candidates that are selecting classes on price, not value. Others may simply set a price that is in the ballpark of everyone else.

So how do you determine the method a Training Counselor uses to set a price? Simple—ask them! If they are lower than most, ask them to explain how they can provide the same quality of training for less than others Training Counselors. If they are higher than most, ask them how that higher cost translates to the training experience that you will receive.

If you are going to ask them questions concerning pricing, the most important question is how does the cost charged equate to value for you, the student?

Factors for Consideration

  • What did you learn from the NRA Instructors portal listing for the Training Counselor’s class?
  • What did you learn about the Training Counselor and what you will experience in their class from their own website and Facebook page?
  • What did you learn about the Training Counselor by doing an Internet search for their name?
  • What did you learn about the location where the classroom portion of classes will be held?
  • What did you learn about the location where the range portion of classes will be held?
  • What did you find about the Training Counselor’s philosophies pertaining to firearms, firearm training, and mentoring?

Taking the answers to all of those questions, you’re now in a far better position to discern the true value of taking a class from that Training Counselor.

Previous Blog Posts on Choosing an Instructor

Choosing an Instructor

Did your instructor do this?

Lots of Bad Instructors—Choose Carefully

Firearm Safety in the Classroom

Family Safety: Our Significant Others

By JL Rehman

In the defensive firearm world with the focus on hardware, proper grip, etc., as it should be, what often falls between the cracks is consideration of our significant others. They can unintentionally become an afterthought in the long-term preparation of safety and action. Planning for family safety must involve all members.

It is easy to make assumptions of their response based upon your perspective and the expectations of their involvement during a deadly encounter.

It is not uncommon for our partners to have a fear and hands-off attitude toward firearms. No one should be made to feel guilty because of their personal feelings about firearms. On the other hand, it can lead to lack of cooperation for a plan in the event of a crisis.

Does that mean the end of the conversation? No. A crisis will involve them regardless, without their permission and with no regard to their feelings.

Have a Plan

When a predator makes a choice to invade and threaten your life and the lives of your loved-ones, passive ignorance by a partner really isn’t an option. During a deadly encounter, whether at home or out, their reaction can make the situation much worse if a plan of action and preparation isn’t in place.

Panic is your enemy. Consider these options. Have an honest conversation. Plan what they need to do. Whether it is grabbing the phone and hiding in a safe closet, running to a neighbor, or knowing what to do in the public arena, give them something to do. Taking the attitude that you will “protect them” isn’t good enough. Frightened people panic, freeze and often become unintentional targets. They can become distractions or obstructions to your engaging a threat.

Coming the Summer of 2018

Strategic Outfitters is launching a new class for family safety, Critical Home Defense, a three-phase course: Classroom, Computer simulator and in-house practical located at our dedicated facility.

Teamwork can make the difference between life and death.

The Gun as a Modern Day Amulet

An amulet is something someone wears or carries that they believe will protect them from evil. That’s exactly the way many gun owners treat their gun.

Here’s something you don’t often hear a firearm instructor saying: Owning A Gun Doesn’t Make You Safer!

Here’s another statement firearm instructors don’t usually say: Learning how to safely handle and shoot a gun doesn’t diminish the likelihood of your being attacked!

Magic Amulet

Wait—I’ve bought a gun, taken training how to properly use it, and go to the range to practice. You’re saying that won’t keep me safe?

There’s a fairly well known proposition among those that study violence, drawing on a drawn gun is almost always a losing proposition. Put another way, if someone is holding a gun on you and you attempt to pull your gun, you’re probably going to get shot. The key to safety is avoidance of the situation, if at all possible, in the first place.

You Win Every Gunfight You Avoid!

Firearm instructors tend to concentrate on firearm skills. That’s not entirely a unexpected or bad thing, as an instructor should stick to the knowledge, skills, and abilities that they actually possess. The problem comes in failure to see the bigger picture—if the only tool you possess is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

If you have to deploy a firearm in self defense, you’re experiencing the worst day in your life. Win, lose, or draw, it is likely to be a life altering experience as well.

I bought a gun, took a 3 hour concealed carry class where we fired a low powered bullet into a bucket of sand, got my concealed carry permit, and sometimes even carry my gun, oh and I took it to a range once—I’m ready for a criminal attack!

Does that sound as misguided reading it as it did when I wrote it? Sadly, that describes the vast majority of American concealed carriers.

The first thing missing from that statement is any training concerning avoiding the criminal in the first place. The NRA’s Personal Protection Outside The Home class (PPOTH) has good avoidance information in it and also teaches drawing and firing from a concealed holster or a purse. Unfortunately it’s a two day class and requires that you have already taken the Personal Protection In The Home (PPITH). The NRA also has a Defensive Pistol class that uses the same student book as PPOTH. We teach it as a full day class that is a condensed version of PPOTH, spending about 70% of the class in the classroom learning about criminals, how they think, how they select their victims, and how to minimize your chances of being a victim.  https://dpistol.eventbrite.com

Here are some of the major points:

  • Pay attention to what is going on around you. Get your face out of the cell phone!
    This is something that you don’t need to go to a class to learn how to do and significantly reduces your appeal to a criminal predator.
  • Avoid going places where crime is common. This includes avoiding “good” places at bad times.
  • Don’t look like a victim (meek, afraid, unaware, etc.).
  • Learn to spot the criminals before they spot you so you can avoid them.
  • Have a plan in case things do go bad.

Your gun and the skills you develop and maintain through regular training are what you are left with when every avoidance tactic has failed. A gun is not a magic amulet that ensures your surviving unscathed; it provides you with a final tool to use towards winning the encounter.

 

Everyday Carry (EDC) Flashlights

Even if your concealed carry firearm has a light on it, it is a great idea to have a flashlight with you—after all, you don’t want to have to pull out your handgun to find that object you dropped in the dark parking lot!

Keychain Flashlights

The most convenient flashlights for EDC are the small ones that go on your keychain. They aren’t going to turn darkness into daylight, but they provide more than enough light to see what you’re doing—or to identify that person lurking in the shadows…

EDC FlashlightsI scoured Amazon for for key chain flashlights and bought numerous different ones. The least usable were the ones where you have to hold one end of the light and twist the other to turn it on or off, taking both hands. The next unsuitable type are the rectangular ones. They are about 1/4″ thick, but are about 2-1/4″ x 1″. This makes them far too big for most key chains, especially if your keys are in your pocket.

The last group are a little thicker than the rectangular ones, triangular or oval in shape, and around 1″ at the widest, and around 1.5″ long. I tested a bunch of different models and found the amount of light they provide was close enough that there was no notable stand out. The best value of the lot was the 10 pack of Lumand.

AAA Battery Flashlights

I also purchased a bunch of two AAA cell flashlights to find one that would make a good all around EDC light that wasn’t too big, but could provide much more light than the tiny key chain flashlights. I found that all the two AAA lights provided plenty of light, but only one model allows momentarily turning the light on by depressing the on/off button on the tail-cap—the Streamlight 66118 Stylus Pro. While it does command the highest price, the momentary feature is well worth it.

If you’re looking for something even more compact, the Streamlight Stylus Pro has a one AAA cell little brother, the MicroStream.

I prefer an EDC flashlight without multiple modes (hi/low/strobe/etc.) controlled by pressing the on/off switch multiple times to select the mode and the two Streamlight flashlights mentioned meet that requirement. If you do want those options, the Streamlight 88061 ProTac single AA cell is a great choice as it even allows you to program the light to various combinations of modes.

Two New Courses Added

Defensive Shotgun

Registration

This is a hybrid class that combines the NRA’s FIRST Steps Shotgun class with our own material that covers the use of a shotgun for defense. The NRA FIRST Steps Shotgun course is designed to provide a hands-on introduction to the safe handling and proper orientation to one specific shotgun model. This course is at least three hours long and includes classroom and range time learning to shoot a specific model shotgun at a moving target. Students will learn the NRA’s rules for safe gun handling; the particular shotgun model parts and operation; ammunition; shooting fundamentals; cleaning the shotgun; and continued opportunities for skill development. Students will receive the Basics of Shotgun Shooting handbook, NRA Gun Safety Rules brochure, Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification booklet and FIRST Steps Course completion certificate.

In our custom portion of the class, we cover selection of a shotgun for home defense, considerations for defensive ammunition, accessorizing a defensive shotgun, and range time dedicated to defensive situations.

We provide everything including our shotguns, ammo, hearing and eye protection, and targets.

AR-15 Intro

Registration

This is a hybrid class that combines the NRA’s FIRST Steps Rifle class with our own material that covers the use of a rifle for defense. NRA FIRST Steps Rifle is designed to provide a hands-on introduction to the safe handling and proper orientation to one specific rifle action type. This course is at least three hours long and includes classroom and range time learning to shoot a specific rifle action type. Students will learn the NRA’s rules for safe gun handling; the particular rifle model parts and operation; ammunition; shooting fundamentals; cleaning the rifle; and continued opportunities for skill development. Students will receive the Basics of Rifle Shooting handbook, NRA Gun Safety Rules brochure, Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification booklet and FIRST Steps Course completion certificate.

In our custom portion of the class, we cover selection of an AR-15 for home defense, considerations for defensive ammunition, accessorizing a defensive rifle, and range time dedicated to defensive situations. We’ll also give an overview of building your own AR-15 from parts you choose.

We provide everything including our AR-15 rifles and pistols, ammo, hearing and eye protection, and targets.

Bearing Arms Against Domestic Violence Campaign

twitter_baadv_cta_1-620x310A request went out last month to all NRA Instructors seeking instructors that would provide discounts in the month of October for anyone with an active restraining order who is looking to receive self defense, gun safety or firearms training. Jody and I decided it was such a worthy cause that we signed up.

Strategic Outfitters will offer our seven hour Pistol Intro class, which is normally $79, for FREE to anyone with an active restraining order. We also decided that this will be permanent, not just for the month of October. Please call or email using the contact information in the left column to sign up for a class using this offer.

A restraining order is nothing more than a piece of paper and many abusers have continued their abuse or even murdered their victim. If someone you know has an active restraining order, please tell them about this program.

A complete list of participating instructors is available at http://bearingarms.com/page/carols-crusaders/

Beware of 2-3 Hour Concealed Carry Classes!

Most concealed carry classes you see advertised online, in gun stores, in pawn shops, and at gun shows are just 2-3 hours. We don’t conduct them and never will. What you aren’t taught in those short classes can get you arrested, or worse, killed. In the 7 hours of our Pistol Intro class, we find it difficult just to cover the minimum knowledge and basic skills that you need to know.

Those classes are called “concealed carry” because they (barely) qualify you for applying for a concealed carry license from the State. They do not provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to responsibly and safely carry a concealed firearm, much less the knowledge and skills necessary should you need to protect yourself or your family.

Typical 2-3 hour concealed carry class shooting a .22 into a bucket of sandYou’ll get to shoot a bullet or two for meeting the state requirement. You might not even go to a range though—it isn’t uncommon for those classes to have you shoot a low powered .22 round into a bucket of sand right there in the gun shop or pawn shop.

We offer a series of classes to take you from where you are today to where you would like to be. Our 7 hour Pistol Intro class takes you from being uncomfortable with guns to understanding gun safety, proper handling, and marksmanship. We’ve had students that had taken the typical 2-3 hour concealed carry class, but hadn’t gotten their permit because they felt less confident after taking that class than before. They leave our 7 hour class with confidence.

For learning proper concealed carry and defensive shooting techniques we teach the NRA’s Defensive Pistol course (1 day) and the NRA’s Personal Protection Outside The Home, PPOTH, (2 days). We also teach the NRA’s Personal Protection Inside The Home, PPITH, (1 Day) which concentrates of preparing you to defend you and your family in your home.

We keep an updated listing of our scheduled classes, along with sign up links, in a post pinned to the top of of our Facebook page.

 

Choosing an Instructor

Whether you’re choosing an instructor for a basic class to obtain your concealed carry permit or looking for someone to take an advanced course from, you need to do your homework to first ensure that you have a safe experience and second have a positive educational experience. I’ll try to break down things to consider in making your choice.

NRA Training Logo Suite-INST-3CSPOTIn Florida and many other states, becoming an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor by taking the two day class is the only requirement to being able to teach classes required for the firearm safety component of the state’s concealed carry license. This means that someone with absolutely no firearms knowledge or experience beyond a two day class can teach firearm classes!

Something else to understand is that in Florida an NRA Certified Instructor can create their own class that qualifies for applying for a concealed carry permit. These classes are not vetted by the NRA or the State—or anyone else for that matter. This is why there are classes that are only a couple of hours and the students “demonstrate” their safe firearm handling skills by shooting a single low power .22 caliber round into a bucket of sand.

There are four general categories of instructors:

  • Part-Time: doing training because they want easy money
  • Part-Time: doing training because they genuinely want to help people learn
  • Part-Time: doing training to help people learn and to earn extra money
  • Full-Time: doing training as a business

The first group are best to avoid. They put on minimal classes of just a couple hours and often use the low power .22 caliber round into a bucket of sand. They have very little investment into training aids such as inert training guns. We have had numerous students come to us for basic training after having already taken one of these types of classes. They left the other instructor’s 2 hour class being more afraid of firearms than before they took it.

The second group includes individuals that have a wide variety of experience levels from very little to expert; what they share is an honest desire to help everyone they can to learn to use a firearm. Many will give the training for little or no cost. The quality of their instruction runs from teaching improper firearm handling to outstanding teaching.

The third group is very much like the second, except that they charge reasonable rates for providing training.

The last group certainly want to help people learn as well—if they fail their livelihood fails! Instructors in this group often have far more investment in teaching aides, training tools, and their own training. For some of us the investment, which includes real estate for classroom and range, can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

So how do you separate the good instructors from the bad instructors? Be a good consumer and do a little basic research. If you have friends that have taken firearm classes, talk with them about their experiences.

Next use the incredible power of the Internet to Google (or Bing, or whatever your search engine of choice) the instructor and their company. Internet tip: put a person’s or company’s name in quotes when you do the search, especially if they are common names/terms. (I.E.: search for “John Doe” instead of John Doe)

Be wary of instructors with little or no Internet presence beyond a Facebook or Craigslist ad. While there are certainly very good instructors with little Internet presence due to their lack of computer skills, there are far more poor quality instructors looking to make a quick buck. They have no Internet presence beyond a Facebook or Craigslist ad because they have nothing to tell you about themselves aside from having taken a two day Instructor class.

While doing your Internet search, pay special attention to photos of the instructor, the classroom, and the range. Is the instructor dressed professionally? Is the instructor exhibiting good safety? (Take a look at Did your instructor do this?) Does what you read and see bolster your confidence in the instructor? Looking at websites other than the instructor’s, what do you learn about them?

Strategic Outfitters' Classroom
Strategic Outfitters’ Classroom

What is the location of the class—a dedicated training room, a pawn shop or gun store sales floor, a motel conference room, a shack in the woods, etc.? Is it an environment that is conducive to learning and that you would be comfortable in? How many students are in the class? If it is more than a dozen, what’s the likelihood that you will be able to ask questions? Obviously the more students in the class, the less individualized attention you will receive which is why we limit our classes to 8 students.

Strategic Outfitters' Range
Strategic Outfitters’ Range

While you are still looking at pictures and descriptions, where is the range portion of the class held? If it is in the classroom (I.E.: shooting into a bucket of sand…), that is almost certainly an instructor you’ll want to avoid. If it is at a public range, will the range training be held on a firing line with others not associated with your class? First, it is difficult for an instructor to work with a student shooter when there is other gunfire going on. Second, there is a lot of bad (dangerous) gun handling by people at public ranges.

If it is held on private property, is it actually constructed as a range (as opposed to just a pile of dirt, or worse targets in an open field with no backstop)? If the “range” is in the middle of nowhere, how long will it take EMS to reach it in the event of a mishap? Does the instructor have have a trauma kit at the range and know how to use it? Is there space to land a helicopter for an air evac?

Even more importantly, is the private property insured as a commercial range? Homeowners insurance is not going to cover a mishap for firearm training.

Do they carry instructor liability insurance? Any professional instructor, whether full time or part time, should.

Strategic Outfitters’ Menu of Classes

Is the basic/concealed carry class the only training they offer? Instructors that provide a variety of advanced classes typically have a broader experience base that you will benefit from.

What is their philosophy of training and of civilian firearm skills? The role of an armed civilian is very different from the role of a law enforcement officer or a soldier. While learning advanced tactical skills employed by law enforcement and the military can be fun, many have limited or no usage to the armed civilian. Tacticool instructors that advertise their classes will turn you into a tier one operator should be avoided!

If you don’t find the answers to these questions during your Internet research, ask the Instructor. If they won’t answer the questions or provide unclear answers, cross them off the list—you have a right to those answers.