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Old January 31, 2013, 09:27 PM   #1
Rmart30
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NRA courses question for those who have taken them or taught them.

Question for the people who have attended/taken/hosted some of the NRA offered courses.

Which ones would you suggest for someone who has been shooting 25+ years? I would assume it would be safe to skip the "first steps" programs and move on to the basic courses. Im specifically interested in the pistol courses , what they consist of and for getting the basic (not chief) range safety officer certification for myself.

Im also wondering about the defensive pistol course and what it consists of.
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Old January 31, 2013, 10:08 PM   #2
MTSCMike
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I was, at one time, an NRA Certified Instructor for Pistol, Personal Protection and Home Firearms Safety. I was also a Tennessee Dept. of Safety Certified Instructor and taught the State required course for the Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit. None of these programs required much more than good basic shooting skill and most of the instruction was geared toward beginners or the average shooter who visits a typical static shooting range once or twice a month.

If your fundamentals need work and you want to sharpen your basic skills then these programs are OK but if you want a fairly advanced course focused on the latest methods I suggest paid training from a reputable facility/instructor teaching the most modern techniques. I have taken training from instructors like Ken Hackathorn (pistol and carbine), Rob Haught (shotgun), (Super) Dave Harrington and others of lesser fame. They were ALL better than any NRA class I've had or taught. Don't get me wrong, the NRA courses are great courses...just not advanced.

Joining a local club that shoots IDPA or USPSA style matches is a lot of fun and can be an excellent source of training if you approach it in that way. Most clubs have reasonably proficient shooters who can also instruct...not all can do it but some can.

I no longer maintain my certifications but I am a Certified IDPA Safety Officer and Safety Officer Instructor. I also teach an intermediate and advanced Defensive Pistol (advanced pistolcraft/not advanced gunfighting) course to friends, family, club members and other select individuals (for no fee) just to keep my instructing skills sharp. There is no real certification for most of the advanced pistol training that is available but many instructors keep their NRA certifications current for insurance and business reasons. The NRA courses, at least the ones I'm aware of, are not really intended for advanced training.
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Old January 31, 2013, 10:49 PM   #3
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Ditto to what MTSCMike said. I took an NRA Basic Pistol Class and I felt it was money wasted. Like Mike said, you would be better off taking courses from somebody with practical experience like an ex-police officer, or someone with professional training experience. IDPA is another good way to learn. I found that being around other competitive shooters will help your skills about as much as anything. Other shooters will be able to see some of the things you are doing wrong. The guy that taught the NRA class I took did nothing more than pass the NRA instructor class enabling him to teach a course. He had no clue how to help me correct bad shooting technique.
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Old February 1, 2013, 05:49 PM   #4
Mello2u
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Quote:
Rmart30

Im also wondering about the defensive pistol course and what it consists of.
The link below takes you to a list of the NRA courses. You can click on the "More info" link to see a pretty good description of what each course covers.
http://nrainstructors.org/CourseCatalog.aspx

It sounds like you may be interested in these three courses.
NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course
NRA Basic Personal Protection In The Home Course
NRA Basics of Personal Protection Outside The Home Course

With your 25+ years of shooting experience, you probably won't get anything of value from the Basic Pistol Course.
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Old February 1, 2013, 06:50 PM   #5
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I learned far more during our IPSC matches than taking a couple classroom courses.
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Old February 2, 2013, 10:15 AM   #6
Rmart30
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Thanks for the replies. This is just the input I was looking for. I did not want to waste money or time (more valuable) for something that would just be a "basic walk thru" class. Cheapest prices I found for NRA classes were $75 a class up to $300 for a 2 day class.

What has lead me into inquiring about the classes is I have the opportunity to take a RSO position at the range I am a member at.
Its a open range from sundown to sunset 7 days a week and a RSO is not required to be present to shoot there.
If I take the position it may require "over seeing" one match in the spring, and one in the fall @ 4 hours each with less than 10 shooters and by doing so my $175 yearly range membership will be no cost.

The other 3 or 4 guys who are already RSO's there have either military or LE backgrounds. I have not so I feel to be the odd man out having not taken any "formal" training.

So I for sure would like to take the NRA RSO class to have at least some formal type of certification. From there maybe the NRA pistol instructors certification.

Just wasnt sure where to start at.
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Old February 2, 2013, 10:21 AM   #7
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For your stated purpose, those two classes would be completely appropriate. After you take them you will understand our comments about their "basic" nature but the certifications look good on your stats sheet when people come to the range and are required by many ranges, for range "officials", to maintain insurance. They are good courses to have in your brain trust.
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Old February 2, 2013, 03:10 PM   #8
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I have taken a NRA course and my feeling was that the instructor probably picked up a firearm for the first time 3 weeks before teaching this class. I have no idea if that is correct but it was my distinct impression. This is not to say that NRA courses are not good but the experience of the instructor is very important to me.

I would look into some level 2,3,4 pistol courses at a tactical school if it were me.
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Old February 5, 2013, 10:06 AM   #9
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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.
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Old February 5, 2013, 02:38 PM   #10
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Because you've 'been shooting 25 years', does not necessarily make you a safe gun handler. I have seen this a lot, both as an NRA Basic Pistol instructor and an RSO, -- I also run a weekly trap program at our club where I have seen more than a couple of careless 'old timers' cover the guys waiting on the bench, while carelessly swinging their shotguns around, -- kind of amusing though to see six or seven guys yelling and ducking for cover.

If you are always aware of your muzzle - and never let it cover anything you don't want to destroy, and if you always check a firearm to see if it is loaded or not, and if you always keep your finger off the trigger until your ready to shoot, and if you always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction -
you may be a safe shooter. There are other rules that MUST ALWAYS be followed. Even if no one is watching. Familiarity breeds carelessness - never take your firearm, or your wife, for granted. Be safe, & be SURE your safe.
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Old February 5, 2013, 06:54 PM   #11
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Give the guy some credit... if he has been shooting for 25 years, I would be willing to bet that as a human being, he has learned a little something about shooting. There is nothing wrong with training, but its a little unfair to assume or suggest that just because someone has not been to a "NRA" course, that they are some sort of goof or something. Most people learn to shoot from their Father or Grandfather or other family member.
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Old February 5, 2013, 08:47 PM   #12
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I've taught NRA courses.

For your purposes, I think I would suggest private lessons, for the following reasons.

Most classes are about money or politics. When an instructor works for a range, and that range furnishes the weapons, ammo and lane, as well as the instructor's wages, the curriculum is what the owner of the range says it is. He's interested in income, not education. His curriculum will be a mix of what he believes and what sells.

The NRA is no different in this respect. Their aims are primarily political, with a strong second place going to money. Teaching under the NRA's programs, there are several subjects included in the basic courses that I'm not sure you would benefit from. "Why We Own Guns" is an example of one such subject.

My suggestion, therefore, would be an independent instructor, who is willing to tailor his curriculum to what you need. Not cheap, and you will probably have to demonstrate some knowledge, (I don't believe someone knows weapons just because they say they do) but it may go further towards accomplishing what you're after.

The problems will remain the same, however. It's a capitalist country. In this case, the main capital is the range, the next the weapons, and finally the insurance and the ammo. Those are the people who will dictate what you can buy as far as instruction. So you may have to compromise some of your desires to find a legitimate instructor, with insurance and range access. On the other hand, you may find that a standard class fits your needs, and you may end up gaining more knowledge than you thought you would by taking one.

Good luck!
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Old February 6, 2013, 11:13 AM   #13
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Take an intermediate class. I took one when I got certified for my concealed permit and I learned more than I thought I would. Most instructors don't follow the NRA standards to the letter.
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