As a new gun owner, it is your responsibility to acquire the education and training needed to use your gun safely and responsibly. The best way to learn everything you need in one place is to seek the guidance of a reputable firearms trainer or instructor.
Like in every profession, there are varying degrees of experience among instructors in the field. But how do you recognize whether someone is qualified to teach you firearm training? What if you need an instructor specialized in concealed carrying? What are some red flags you should avoid?
Discover how to find the best firearms instructor for you and receive the quality firearm education you need to be a safe and responsible gun owner.
Knowledge of Gun Safety
As any gun owner knows, the most critical aspect of gun ownership is gun safety. Therefore, a good instructor should lead by example regarding firearm safety and basic handling.
If they do not start by teaching you about the National Rifle Association (NRA) basic gun safety rules (or any other commonly-taught equivalent), this may be an indicator you’re dealing with an unqualified person.
The minimum proof of experience you should look for in a firearms instructor is an NRA Instructor certification. NRA instructor courses are by discipline (NRA Basic Pistol, NRA Basic Rifle, etc.), textbook knowledge, and practical shooting skills.
However, you should also look for other proof of competency with firearms. The more real-world experience your instructor possesses, the more valuable and relevant their teaching will be.
Examples of additional qualifications commonly possessed by well-trained, competent firearms instructors include the following:
- A military or law enforcement background suggests they have received at least some firearm training during their service.
- A competitive shooting background in a recognized sport or discipline such as IPSC/USPSA, IDPA, 3-gun, GSSF.
- A state-recognized firearms instructor certification, if applicable. For example, in the state of Michigan, only individuals who have passed the state’s instructor certification process are qualified to teach CPL classes and training courses.
You may also want to pay attention to the instructor’s teaching specializations. For example, if you need education on concealed carrying, look for teachers with pistol shooting qualifications and concealed carry-specific training courses.
Opinions From Previous Students
While researching information about firearms instructors, it is a good idea to look at what their former students thought of them. Resources such as Google reviews can provide additional insight on whether other students were satisfied with the training and education they received and give you an idea of what to expect.
Although finding many positive reviews and satisfied customers is an encouraging sign, pay attention to the negative reviews and whether the instructor has responded. Even if some dissatisfied customers leave negative reviews in bad faith, how the instructor responds to negative criticism is a good indicator of their personality and professionalism.
Teaching Quality and Consistency
Shooting is a skill that requires constant and regular practice. Be wary of instructors who do not regularly seek training, stay up-to-date on the latest laws and regulatory changes, or hone their skills in general.
While there is no easy way to tell whether an instructor is performing poorly, a red flag to look for is how often they teach classes. Instructors who do not hold classes at regular intervals are less inclined to stay informed with local and state law changes and may give outdated information.
Even if their experience or talent with firearms is genuine, gun laws constantly change. It is a matter of safety to receive the best and most relevant information during your training.
Class Parameters: Length, Location, Size
The quality of your training depends, in part, on the length of the course. Some states impose a legal minimum number of hours; in Michigan CPL classes must be at least eight hours long.
Avoid instructors that offer accelerated classes or any courses that last less than three hours. Not only are they unlikely to give you quality gun safety education, but if the class is shorter than the state’s legal minimum, the instructor may be breaking the law.
The location of the class is also critical to firearm training quality. A classroom portion is always good to have, but no gun training course is complete without at least one trip to a shooting range. If your class does not offer a training portion with real firearms and live-fire ammunition, you have no way to put what you’ve learned in the classroom into practice, leaving you with, at best, incomplete knowledge.
Check how many students an instructor takes on any given course before registering. The instructor must respond to everyone’s questions and devote sufficient attention to each student, so the ideal class size is small.
A healthy number of students per class is between 10 and 15, although fewer may also be good because it gives instructors more opportunities for one-on-one discussion. In contrast, if the number reaches 20 or more, the class may be overpopulated, reducing your instructor’s ability to answer your questions promptly.
Get Your Michigan CPL With IFA Tactical Training
Based in Sterling Heights, MI, IFA Tactical Training offers high-quality firearms training classes for residents of the Detroit area and beyond. We offer multiple specialized classes, from the beginner-friendly Pistol 101 to the Michigan CPL class for concealed carrying applicants. For more information or to register for a class, call us now at (586) 275-2176.