Certified vs. Non Certified

Certified Instruction vs. Non Certified Instruction

In the United States there is no governing body that states who can be a firearms instructor and who cannot be a firearms instructor. This means anyone who feels confident or has other motives can declare themselves an instructor. Certified instructors are vetted through a system of standards that are often determined by as group of people within a system of instruction. The standards hold up to known facts, science, logic and withstand the test of time. Although it is possible to get good instruction from someone teaching an non certified course, how do you know what you are getting? Sure it can sound good or logical but with no frame of reference, as a new shooter what gives you confidence or certainty in what you are being told to do?

When I began my firearms training I ran into a lot of this. Once I trained with a SWAT Officer of a major city police department. He kept saying things like try it and see what you think or using clichés like “it’s another tool for the toolbox.” I felt myself wondering why I was paying a professional to be so vague and unclear. Why he had difficulty explaining why I could do this or…. do this other thing since it was in my toolbox. Wasn’t there a right way?

I could go on about this but what I prefer to do is tell you about the two programs I went through to certified as an instructor.

NRA Basic Pistol

  • First I had to take the End User Course.
  • Then I had to take a one day Instructor Course.
  • I had to pass a written test.
  • I had to pass a shooting test.

Combat Focus Shooting

  • First I had to take the End User Course.
  • Next I had to go through four days of intense instructor development. This was 90% classroom work covering topics like the Science of the Body’s Natural Reactions, Adult Education concepts, Skill Development, etc. and 10% range work. (As the program has evolved, this is now a 5 day course of instruction.)
  • I then had to pass a subjective test demonstrating knowledge of the concepts and a block of instruction from the program.
  • Then I had to pass a written test.
  • Upon passing the two tests above I was certified as an instructor tentatively. I then had to teach a course with a veteran instructor and be approved by that instructor.
  • Passing that you are official. However, there is a form of checks and balances to make sure you are current with new information and to ensure the quality of your instruction as well. Failure can mean suspension and retraining.

Taking an Instructor Development course does not guarantee certification regardless of the cost involved.

Certification has a host of benefits for both the instructor and the student.

Although it may look like I am just talking about the instructor, that is not the sole focus. The instructor is certifying in a course of instruction. It is always about the course material you are being introduced to. Yes presentation counts but without the right material it doesn’t matter. As a student you should know why you are being told to do the things you are being told to do. Why is a multi-layered thing. So make sure it can be answered in depth and to your satisfaction. Certified instruction is definitely something to consider when seeking a program of instruction.