Do you like to teach? Do you have the ability to successfully transfer knowledge to others? Are you passionate about empowering people to protect themselves and their loved ones? If so, you might be the type of instructor that the firearms industry would benefit from in this day and age. Also, if you ever thought about starting a firearms training business, this is the blog series for you.
This specific blog edition is part one (1) of an eight (8) part series. In this post, I am going to discuss step 1 of the 8 steps to get you started on your way to running a legitimate firearms training business. The full series will by no means be an exhaustive list of how to start this type of venture. However, I am confident it will give you plenty of useful information to get you started and moving in the right direction. Please note, there may be variances in the information being presented due to differing state laws, training requirements, and other unforeseen restrictions. Nonetheless, feel free to ask your questions and I will gladly respond to your question or comment the best I can with as much pertinent information as possible.
The following are the steps that will be outlined in the full 8-part series:
1) Getting Certified as an Instructor
2) Administrative Set Up
3) Finding a Training Site
4) Buying Equipment/Creating Your Curriculum
5) Payment Policies/Collection
6) Advertising Your Classes
7) Testing and Training Your Curriculum
8) Conducting the Class
Let's Get Started!!!
Getting Certified as an Instructor
If you are not already certified as an firearms instructor, I suggest that getting certified is the first thing you should do. Getting certified not only gives you some credibility as an instructor, it may also be required by your insurance company (to be discussed in a future blog post). Additionally, taking a certification course will also give you invaluable training on how to instruct a class. There are many nuances that people do not necessarily think about when they have an interest in training others. Instructor classes are filled with information that is specific to things that an instructor must know and do (or not do) while teaching others, especially when dealing with safety and the use of firearms. For instance, if you don't have a methodical/repeatable verbal command system for handling a firearm while on the firing line, you will increase the chances of safety violations by your students. And if you have ever attended a firearms training where the instructor did not have full and complete step by step control of the line and/or appropriate safety measures in place, then you have no-doubt felt the uneasiness that comes with shooting guns next to people you do not know. It can be a very scary thing to experience. I remember taking a class that totally freaked me out. It was a low-light pistol shooting class and during one of the iterations, the instructor placed us on the firing line with our left shoulders facing down range. That position put everyone’s back exposed to the shooter behind them (which is not necessarily a problem in and of itself). However, he proceeded to have us place our pistol near our midsection in front of us "supposedly" pointing the gun down range and not at each other’s back. And I say "supposedly" because the instructor didn’t even have any ambient safety lighting set up near the line so it was completely pitch black. You could not even see your hand in front of your face. And no one could actually visually verify if our guns were safely pointed down range prior to firing. Then, we were told to fire multiple rounds in quick succession and ran that iteration multiple times. Needless to say, the instructor did not control the line very well and created an unsafe shooting environment for everyone (he was certified through a company I won't name - not NRA, POST, etc.). Bottom-line...take an instructor level course offered by a large and reputable organization before you get started on this venture because you will learn a lot of things you probably did not even consider.
There are a few avenues you can look for highly reputable and recognized instructor certifications. The most obvious is through the National Rifle Association (NRA). At NRAInstructors.org, you can sign up for instructor level courses in any region of the country. There are plenty of dates available to get yourself certified pretty quickly. They offer instructor level courses for pistol, rifle and shotgun. So, your weapon system bases can be covered entirely through the NRA. The NRA also has a law enforcement instructor development school that is open to active and retired law enforcement, armed security officers, military personnel, and others. There are some requirements that an individual must meet prior to being accepted to attend the program. Here is a look at the application:
Another option, if you are a law enforcement officer and are looking to obtain a law enforcement firearms instructor certification is through the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST or equivalent) in your state. That is where I received my instructor certifications. However, some of the POST approved programs require that you be sponsored by your agency to attend. With that said, I have noticed some instructor courses that do not require sponsorship and are open to individual officers interested in attending on their “own dime.” Just find a course in your regions POST training catalog, research the flyer and if the restrictions are not listed, make a phone call to find out what the requirements are to attend.
Lastly, you can find some firearms instructor certifications through weapon manufacturers. Some weapon manufacturers have their own training academies that are open to the public as well as law enforcement specific courses. One that comes to mind is the Sig Sauer Academy. Nevertheless, there are positives and negatives to any of these options. So, when you are considering which route to choose, base it on the overall goals for your training business.
Speaking on the positive, getting a non-law enforcement NRA instructor certification is probably the easiest route to take to become an instructor. But you have to understand that there is an NRA system in place and they want you to replicate their training system exactly as written (which is completely understandable). Therefore, you are limited to using the curriculums they have approved if you want to conduct an “NRA sponsored” course. This can be a slight negative if you have other skills that you want to transfer to your students. Still, the NRA has a course sign-up infrastructure also built into their system. This makes marketing and building an online presence a breeze because you are not on your own. You actually have a huge firearm and training organization supporting all your efforts and funneling business directly to you by location and course type.
In conclusion, obtaining an instructor certification will give you a huge dose of training insight and a solid foundation in which to build your business upon. So, get yourself certified!!!
Okay, that's it for part 1 of this series. We'll talk more next time for part 2, Administrative Set Up, stay safe! - Clint