Hello Concealed Coalition! It’s Austin Davis, and this week’s question is a good one.
“Austin, how do I become a firearms instructor?”
This is a great question. The problem is that this question probably has two or three paths. What do I mean by that? For example, if you just decide you want to be an instructor for your friends and family, That’s a very simple path.
Training Family and Friends
First things first – and no matter who you’re teaching – become a master of teaching safety. Remember, at the end of the day we really don’t care how well the people you’re instructing shoot. The important thing is how safely they shoot. They don’t need to be wonderful shots, but they do need to be safe shots.
With that in mind, make sure you have the four firearm safety rules in your head and your student’s head, and operate on the principle of “if it’s not safe, it’s not happening.”
Becoming a Certified Firearms Instructor
Now, maybe you want to have a more formalized approach to becoming a firearms instructor. If so, that means you want to be a certified firearms instructor. If you want to be a certified firearms instructor, let me tell you the real secret of what’s going on: Every time you teach something, you actually learn it twice.
Because this mindset will make you a better, safer, more efficient student, becoming a certified firearms instructor is a fantastic path. There are a number of ways to go about this. Concealed Coalition has our own instructor program we’re rolling out, and in the meantime you can go to one of the already established national programs and get a lot of information online. Some of these include:
- The National Rifle Association (NRA)’s training program
- The Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) Firearms Instructor Training Program
- Training programs run through your state or local government
Understanding Learning Styles as an Instructor
Remember, you’re an instructor first and a firearms instructor second. What I recommend is spend a lot of time learning about firearm safety, firearms efficiency, and biomechanics of firearms, but understand that’s secondary in the grand scheme of things. What’s most important is you becoming a better instructor, especially when it comes to adult learning.
What do I mean by that?
I want you to understand how the human brain works. I want you to be able to look in your student’s eyes and notice when they are entering a situational overload. When that short term memory is really too full to absorb any more material, you have to be careful you don’t overwrite or start making mistakes. Otherwise you’re just teaching to a blank canvas that’s not absorbing the material.
Additionally, I want you to understand how the adult brain learns so that you understand the difference between procedural memory and declarative memory because they’re very different. This way, you can not only put the information in your student’s head, but you know exactly where you’re putting it.
Starting a Business as a Firearms Instructor
Now, what if you decide you want to become a firearms instructor and do it as a profession?
If so, understand this is a business that people pay you money to come perform. Safety is just as important as before. Understanding how to be an instructor is just as important as before, but now you’re running it as a business. As a result, the level of professionalism you have to have is even more important.
If you decide you want to go into the firearms instructor program and you want to do this for a living, the main advice I can give you is to seek a mentor. Go find one, two, or three other instructors that you respect and have taken classes from. Find people that make you think as a student, “Wow, they’ve really got it going on!”
On top of that, they really practice and preach safety. They really understand how to prevent and manage gunshot wounds. They really understand the educational thing. Once you’ve identified your mentor(s), have them guide, nurture, and tutor you through the process of becoming a professional firearms instructor.
Whether you do it casually for your friends, whether you do it as a way to expand on your current knowledge, or whether you do it as a way to become an additional source of income or a full-time gig (like me), understand this:
It’s about safety first, knowledge second, and it’s about making you a better, safer shooter so you can carry this to your classes and create safer, more stable, more efficient students.
I hope that helped provide you with some clarity on the path to becoming a firearms instructor. Please keep sending in your questions! It helps make us better as a community when we all focus together on becoming safer, more effective shooters.
All that being said, don’t ever forget to be a guardian always, and a warrior when needed.