The NRA courses are intended to be building blocks toward competency in personal defense.
The Basic Pistol course is just that, basic. It is intended for someone who has not had experience with a handgun, and the course is not particularly oriented toward defense. Instead, it teaches safe and responsible use, storage and ownership and serves as an introduction to the broad subject of handgun shooting.
The NRA Personal Protection courses address the defense issues. They require an attorney (or another "legally qualified" person) to teach a component of those courses that discusses the use of lethal force in personal defense situations in the state in which the course is presented. Since the use of lethal force laws vary between in-the-home considerations and less well defined situations outside the home and in the community, the legal instruction portion of these courses differ. The legal component alone is probably worth the tuition in either of these two courses. Do you fully understand the differences between castle doctrine and stand your ground laws, for instance? Do they apply in your state? More advanced shooting is taught in the personal protection classes, where the shooter is introduced to levels of awareness, cover and concealment, the need for multiple shots on a threat, engaging multiple threats, and shooting with movement from under a concealing garment.
An advanced defensive handgun course is in the works.
I do not accept people for the Personal Protection courses unless I have some objective indication that they have taken the Basic course or have some other credentials.
As a professionally trained graduate of instruction as provided to USMC high risk personnel, and a Thunder Ranch, Suarez, and Rob Pincus/Combat Focus trained shooter, I have been impressed with what the NRA is attempting to do with these courses. They are the only organization in the country attempting to teach this subject matter in a uniform, consistent manner nation-wide. The ultimate aim here is to establish uniform standards that will make universal concealed carry a reasonably attainable goal.
All of the pistol courses currently taught by the NRA are well below my level of skill. But the courses I have taken are not about me and my skill, they are about teaching others to defend themselves, and to survive the legal aftermath.
Understanding what is taught in these courses is still critical to my performance and effectiveness as an instructor, and the money spent to take those courses was therefore well spent.
By all means, take advanced training at a well-known school if you want to deepen your personal skills and learn new techniques. But if you want to teach, either as an RSO or otherwise, first learn what is being taught.
The United States Marine Corps: Providing the enemies of America the opportunity to die for their countries since 1775. Semper fi.