Question for instructors

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Shiloh
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Question for instructors

Post by Shiloh » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:47 pm

Hey ZS, I've got a few quick questions for anyone who might be a firearms instructor or is familiar with the profession. A little background: I was disqualified from enlisting in the army about a year and a half ago due to some eye surgeries I had done, and being as military sevice was a family tradition I was a little more than miffed. :vmad: Anyway, I started poking around and thought about getting my NRA certification as an instructor after I turned 21. Obviously, it probably wouldn't be something I could make a long-term career out of, but I truly enjoy firearms, helping people learn a new skill, and gaining new knowledge about the fields I'm interested in.

-Is there even a place for civillian instructors who don't have LE/MIL experience? It seems every one I've run into has some background in one of these fields.

-Besides the NRA certification, taking LOTS of classes from other instructors, and IF I could find my spot in the industry, what other things would you guys recommend for me to become a better instructor?

-What would be a good first step if I tried to go through with this?

Thanks for your time, folks. :)
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by prekarious » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:53 pm

Former PMI.
Yes there is a spot for instructors without Mil/LE background. Some of the best competition shooters I have ever seen or shot against had no experience with either of these lifestyles. Its simply that these professions breed a lot more familiarity with firearms.
Right now in this political climate this may not be the best job to be trying to get into as I seriously doubt that any of the main places are looking for instructors. You could help out with RSO duties at your local range and see if they offer any classes so you can get a better feel for what your looking at getting into.
For as simple as "focus on the front sight" is, you would be amazed at how difficult the concept can be to get across to just about anyone with an ego.
By all means, go for it and get the experience!
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by Shiloh » Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:11 pm

Thanks for the reply. So in your opinion, is there more of a demand for competition instructors than, say, tactical carbine or home defense instructors?
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by prekarious » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:53 pm

No, I wouldn't say that. Was mainly referring to not needing to have a mil/le background to become a serious instructor. If curious about what would be the best style you would be looking to instruct, try them all out and see what you enjoy the most. If you truly enjoy what your teaching your abilities and understanding will be much higher making it easier to pass on to others
Participating in a gun buy back because you believe that the criminals have too many guns is like having yourself castrated because you believe that the neighbors have too many kids.

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Re: Question for instructors

Post by Trebor » Tue Feb 05, 2013 2:31 am

Kathy Jackson over at The Cornered Cat has an excellent post on this. Read it and see what you think

http://www.corneredcat.com/article/teac ... nstructor/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I'm an instructor and I've gone through a hybrid of what she calls the "certification vs. apprenticeship" route. I took several high level classes, including Mas Ayoob's LFI 1 and LFI 2, before I got my NRA instructor cert. After that I continued to take other classes, including non-NRA instructor development classes, as I also started to teach classes.

I never actually served an "apprenticeship" with another instructor though. In my case I spent about five years teaching the NRA classes, and taking other classes from other instructors, before I taught anything that wasn't straight out of the NRA curriculum. It took that long before I felt I understood enough to know WHY I was teaching something as opposed to just "teaching by rote" and also for me to develop an idea of what I thought were the most important things to teach and how to best teach them.

Here's my advice:
Take the NRA class and get your basic certs. Teach the NRA classes straight off the curriculum.

At the same time, take other classes from other instructors. Focus on whatever area you think you want to teach, be it handguns, rifles, shotguns, competition, self defense, etc.

Work on developing your own skill as a shooter and also work to improve your won ability to impart info to students. The two things are not that closely related actually and you need to do both.

As far as having a business plan and marketing, flat out, the only NRA class you can expect to consistently make money on is if there is a NRA class that meets your state's concealed carry license requirements. That is the class everyone wants to take and that will be your bread and butter class.

If your state has some *other* training criteria for a CCW permit, or requires a different instructor certification to teach that class (registration with the state, or whatever), try to meet those requirements as well, if at all possible. That's because, again, the state-mandated CCW class will be your most popular class, far and away. (Still get the NRA cert though even if you have to get a completely different cert from the state. There are benefits to being a NRA instructor, including insurance, and learning to teach "the NRA way" is not a bad thing in itself).

Also, if you plan to market yourself as a "competition" instructor, you better have some impressive qualifications to back that up. You want to be a nationally ranked shooter in whatever discipline your teaching, not just a good local shooter, in my opinion.

Right now you say you are under 21. Personally, at this stage, I'd work on developing your own skills as a shooter for a couple more years and also on taking some higher end classes. Hold off on getting the NRA cert and trying to teach classes until you have a few more years of experience under your belt. You don't have to be a "greybeard," but I'd e wary of an instructor under 21, unless they had some serious competition or military creds.

As to running it as a business, it can be done, but it is hard. Again, the main source of income is likely to be your state mandated CCW class. If there isn't any state mandated class then you have to figure out "why go to me" when there are other instructors out there as well. What makes you special as an instructor.

Don't forget you have to worry about insurance, finding a range to use, advertising, etc., but all that can wait a couple years until you are closer to getting the cert.
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by Shiloh » Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:51 am

Trevor- Thanks a bunch, I think that really gave me an idea of where to go from here. I actually had something similar in mind to what you said, basically shooting consistently for a few more years before going for the certs.
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by tedbeau » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:59 am

prekarious wrote:Former PMI.
Right now in this political climate this may not be the best job to be trying to get into as I seriously doubt that any of the main places are looking for instructors.
Really? I would think that considering the number of new gun owners and the record number of CCW/CPL permit applications being processed in almost every state and the fact that there are 2 and 3 months waiting list to take a CCW class, there would be a greater demand for instructors now than ever before.

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Re: Question for instructors

Post by Das Sheep » Thu Dec 26, 2013 8:43 pm

Off topic but have you talked to the Navy about enlisting? I am not sure but I think we take people as long as your vision is corrected with glasses to close to 20/20 and you can get a waiver for a lot of things.

Most of the Navy's, uh, combat training, might disappoint you though.

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Re: Question for instructors

Post by Shiloh » Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:23 pm

Das Sheep wrote:Off topic but have you talked to the Navy about enlisting? I am not sure but I think we take people as long as your vision is corrected with glasses to close to 20/20 and you can get a waiver for a lot of things.

Most of the Navy's, uh, combat training, might disappoint you though.
No, I'm disqualified from every branch of the military, along with LE work, firefighting, etc. My vision isn't correctable, since it's the optic nerve that's effected. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optic_nerve_hypoplasia" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; Right now my vision sits at 20/50 in the left eye, legally blind in the right with 20/400.

I'd give anything to be able to enlist, but it's not going to happen.
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by jay's guns! » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:40 am

Hi dude. I'm an NRA instructor, as well as a prior service Marine who retired from the Army last year. I spent a few years as a military instructor. I currently teach in in south central Michigan. Here's the deal, you are correct you won't make much money :vmad: Thats okay though. Very few people do. These days you can't throw a dead cat and not hit a "tactical" instructor.

You don't have to be a Mil. guy to teach shooting. You don't have to even be a world class shooter - though that helps. Teaching things like NRA Basic Pistol or Personal Protection In The Home don't require a stint in a Tier One military unit or even being a local hot shot in Three Gun or IDPA. What you need is the ability to actually teach people skills. I know a lot of "instructors" who are GREAT shooters but horrible teachers. And I know some mediocre shooters who are wonderful instructors because they can keep the class engaged. Remember that there is no such thing as "advanced tactical skills" - there is only perfect execution of the fundamentals under stress. Therefore, civilians can do that just as well as Mil. guys. The fundamentals don't care what uniform you put on.

Being a young guy you'll need a lot of experience. It helps to be standing next to an old guy that is your boss for a few years. Find an NRA training counselor and get certified to teach a basic NRA skill - like say basic pistol as just one example. Then team up again with him or another well respected instructor and assist him (free of charge of course) when he's teaching that course until you get some experience. Do that with a few well respected instructors if you can. Repeat that with each new class you are certified to teach.

Competition is great. Its not the final world by any means, but short of actually going on a deployment its a great learning tool. Just remember where its place should be in your tactical tool bag. Saying competition is like combat experience is like saying MMA is like a street fight.

And last, there are many world class instructors out there who take on civilians. There are also total fucking dirt bags. You'll just have to get that all important experience and do your homework before you spend what can be BIG MONEY.

Good luck, and do good things. And be safe :wink:

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Re: Question for instructors

Post by procyon » Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:34 am

jay's guns! wrote:Being a young guy you'll need a lot of experience. It helps to be standing next to an old guy that is your boss for a few years. Find an NRA training counselor and get certified to teach a basic NRA skill - like say basic pistol as just one example. Then team up again with him or another well respected instructor and assist him (free of charge of course) when he's teaching that course until you get some experience. Do that with a few well respected instructors if you can. Repeat that with each new class you are certified to teach.
This. In spades.
I hate to be brutally honest, but with your vision you will have a hard time building a reputation on your shooting ability. I could be wrong, but if 20/50 is as good as it gets - you have a pretty big hurdle to jump in that area. So if you want a reputation that makes people want to come to you for training - it will likely be based off of who you have trained/worked with.
And at your age, and just starting off with shooting... you are going to need to be doing a lot of learning yourself before you start teaching.

The best advice I could give you is - worry more right now about being the 'trainee' than the 'trainer'. Put in a lot of time behind some weapons. A LOT. Most decent trainers have years of experience in shooting - and the number of rounds they have put down range isn't just in the thousands, or tens of thousands - its in the hundreds of thousands. Get the NRA certs - they are valuable. But building your own skills is probably far more valuable right now.
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by Shiloh » Sat Dec 28, 2013 7:31 pm

procyon wrote:
jay's guns! wrote:Being a young guy you'll need a lot of experience. It helps to be standing next to an old guy that is your boss for a few years. Find an NRA training counselor and get certified to teach a basic NRA skill - like say basic pistol as just one example. Then team up again with him or another well respected instructor and assist him (free of charge of course) when he's teaching that course until you get some experience. Do that with a few well respected instructors if you can. Repeat that with each new class you are certified to teach.
This. In spades.
I hate to be brutally honest, but with your vision you will have a hard time building a reputation on your shooting ability. I could be wrong, but if 20/50 is as good as it gets - you have a pretty big hurdle to jump in that area. So if you want a reputation that makes people want to come to you for training - it will likely be based off of who you have trained/worked with.
And at your age, and just starting off with shooting... you are going to need to be doing a lot of learning yourself before you start teaching.

The best advice I could give you is - worry more right now about being the 'trainee' than the 'trainer'. Put in a lot of time behind some weapons. A LOT. Most decent trainers have years of experience in shooting - and the number of rounds they have put down range isn't just in the thousands, or tens of thousands - its in the hundreds of thousands. Get the NRA certs - they are valuable. But building your own skills is probably far more valuable right now.
I figured. Being an instructor was a fun pipe dream, but (as with most things) my vision just won't allow for it.
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by angelofwar » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:09 pm

Have you tried Air Force? They have "Combat Arms Instructors". AF looks a little less at the medical side than the army, and focuses more on education/lack of criminal record. You can have multiple criminal charges and still get into the army, as long as your feet aren't jacked.
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by Shiloh » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:11 pm

angelofwar wrote:Have you tried Air Force? They have "Combat Arms Instructors". AF looks a little less at the medical side than the army, and focuses more on education/lack of criminal record. You can have multiple criminal charges and still get into the army, as long as your feet aren't jacked.
I've been officially DQ'ed from every branch of service plus a lot of public service jobs like LE. My disorder's not correctable, so it's stuck where it is. I talked to at least one recruiter from each branch (and a few more after) and talked directly to the folks who run MEPS.
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by 0122358 » Thu May 01, 2014 1:25 pm

I'm in the exact boat as Shilo when it comes to my eyes....and havbe wanted to become an instructor using my Psychology degree somehow (on the perception, and self-defenses side)...tagged.
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by Shiloh » Fri May 02, 2014 1:26 am

Jeez, almost forgot about this thread.

Hate to be the nihilist, depressing voice all of the sudden, but I've pretty much let this idea go. There's no way for me to gain the "real world" experience that it seems most people are looking for in shooting instructors, particularly defensive ones. Every one I've ever met, heard of, or seen has some sort of military, law enforcement, or similar background. And since I'm not able to enter into any of those fields it'll be more than difficult for me to build a resume just based on other classes that I might have taken, even if they're from more well-known instructors. That doesn't mean I won't take those courses to better my own skills, but with my limitations it's just not a realistic avenue. At least not right now.
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by Signmaker » Thu May 29, 2014 7:44 pm

Dont give up hope. I for one have never understood the need for LEO/MIL experience when training competition or civillian self defense. The differences are just so vast once you look past the similarity of having guns. MIL is about suppressing and destroying adversaries, with a massive supply chain and overwatch backing you up. LEO is about apprehending the adversary, again with a chain of backup behind them. CIV is all about flight, escape, and preservation. The tools, ROE, and mindsets are completely different.

Why not master your weapons, which you should do/want to do anyway. Take classes, get NRA certs, everything listed above.

Then start up a Youtube channel, and just teach to the camera. It will tell you whether or not what and how you teach is going to be well received. If it's not your talent, then nothing lost. If you're successful, you can gain a following, and turn that into a potential client pool for instructing. How many people do you think would sign up for a class with Hickok45?

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Re: Question for instructors

Post by Litheran » Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:27 am

Shiloh,
you might consider becoming an instructor for your areas fish and game office. Volunteer and pick up the skills necessary to eventually get certified and run your own class. I started doing that before I became a LEO and have a blast doing it. Probably wont get paid for it, but it'll help you make connections and might even lead to employment in a non-law enforcement role for a state or local agency.
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Re: Question for instructors

Post by WutsFrequencyKeneth » Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:39 pm

There's also the issue of age.

Unless a 21 year old had some sort of immense platform of experience, like being a IPSC/USPSA grandmaster or something, I'm going to spit and walk away if he tried telling me I'm doing something wrong.

The other thing is that at 21 years of age, I almost guarantee you haven't developed enough of the 'soft skills' it takes to communicate and establish the presence and leadership required to run a course of fire while instructing grown-ass men, some of whom've been shooting longer than the years you've lived, that they need to change what they're doing.

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