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Old July 25, 2013, 11:23 PM   #1
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For those who have become firearms instructors

Firearms have recently come very close (and some days surpass) my love for my other great passion, music. I really enjoy shooting them, studying them, reading about them, practicing my grips, and of course, shooting them (again!)

I've had this seed of a thought in the back of my head for a while now that since I have such a love for guns that maybe I should invest some energy into learning how to be an effective teacher.

It won't necessarily be a short road. My first major issue is that I'm 17. I turn 18 next month but won't even be able to apply for a concealed carry license until I turn 21. I haven't been shooting all that long and my knowledge of certain weapons (shotguns and revolvers, mainly) is lacking currently. I feel I am most proficient with my current weapon of choice, a CZ 75 BD. I can't make long shots or group within the X ring all the time. I can group in the "head" of a silhouette target at 15 yards or within the upper torso with double taps and rapid fire.

My parents are going to take a defensive carry class at our range and I think I'm going to take it with them. I want to start getting more involved with their classes. For now it will be things like defensive pistol, but I'd like to try everything from skeet and trap to long range rifle marksmanship. Just don't have the shotguns or rifles

My goal in the beginning will be simple enough. I am very safety conscious and stick to the rules even when others have called me ridiculous or zealous for doing so. I have been humbled a couple times (thanks for the tough love, those who have humbled me) and learn from the experience. I would like to start with something like NRA first steps, and maybe a type of class where we talk about realistic firearms safety and then demonstrate safe handling of different action shotguns, rifles, and pistols to get beginning shooters familiar with different systems.

I have just come from reading the article on the Cornered Cat about this very thing where she makes some great suggestions.

Anybody who's become a teacher, were you in a similar situation? Do you stand by your decision? Do you have any advice for me? The best advice I've seen is to read, practice, take classes, learn, and keep an open mind. I would pursue continuing education for myself not to be the know it all but to continue to provide higher levels of education.

I do have some education experience in the past as I taught music classes for about 8 months to a wide age group.
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Old July 25, 2013, 11:27 PM   #2
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For those who have become firearms instructors

At your age I would recommend getting into shooting competition locally in your area if you can. I thought I was getting pretty good and learning my way around my firearms of choice an then I went and shot a couple local competitions.

Even if you just shoot a .22, and believe me no one will look down on you for doing so.
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Old July 25, 2013, 11:34 PM   #3
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Competition was one of the big reasons I got my gun to begin with! I can't drive myself to the range (obviously) and the cost of ammo has been somewhat prohibitive to my training so I haven't felt comfortable competing yet, but it's on my list of things to do.

I suppose I could always get the Kadet kit and do .22 steel shooting. Always lots of things going on at my range.
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Old July 26, 2013, 07:25 AM   #4
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Check out the CMP Website and find some Junior programs in your area.

Get involved with the CMP Clubs and they (via the CMP & NRA) will help you with equipment, rifles, and ammo).

The same thing with High Power. The NRA has great programs for juniors, each state is eligible for what they call Whistler Programs. That's a junior team match where you go to Perry and compete against junior teams from other states. Again, you'll get a lot of support from the NRA, and different companies, (for example Sierra provides bullets for our Whistler Teams.

I'm not sure of the upper age of 4H, but might also check with your county extension agent about 4H programs in your are. 4H shooting sports is the fastest growing 4H activities out there. Again you get support, our club members furnish ammo and instructors to our 4H shooters.

There is also the CMP GSM (Garand, Springfield, and Military) vintage rifle programs. Again find info about this on the CMP website.

Shoot every NRA Light Rifle and CMP Rimfire Sporter Match you can. Besides giving you experience it will hook you up with experienced shooter who will help you along the way.

NRA 4 Position and ISU (International Shooter Union) 3 position small bore programs are good, but gets a bit expensive in the equipment areas. International Shooting is the most demanding. This takes you all the way to the Olympics.

You're best source right now is the CMP, visit their web site,

The Civilian Marksmanship Program:

CMP Board of Directors
Meet the CMP Board of Directors

Gary Anderson, Director of CMP Emeritus
Meet the Director Emeritus of CMP,
Mr. Gary Anderson

Orest Michaels, CMP Chief Operating Officer

Meet the Chief Operating Officer,
Mr. Orest Michaels

The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is a national organization dedicated to training and educating U. S. citizens in responsible uses of firearms and airguns through gun safety training, marksmanship training and competitions. The CMP is a federally chartered 501(c)(3) corporation that places its highest priority on serving youth through gun safety and marksmanship activities that encourage personal growth and build life skills. Links on this page will lead you to more detailed information about the CMP and its programs.
Statutory mission. The federal law enacted in 1996 (Title 36 U. S. Code, 0701-40733) that created the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety, Inc. (CPRPFS, the formal legal name of the CMP) mandates these key “functions for the corporation:

(1) To instruct citizens of the United States in marksmanship;

(2) To promote practice and safety in the use of firearms;

(3) To conduct competitions in the use of firearms and to award trophies, prizes, badges, and other insignia to competitors.

The law specifically states: In carrying out the Civilian Marksmanship Program, the corporation shall give priority to activities that benefit firearms safety, training, and competition for youth and that reach as many youth participants as possible.
They have a lot of assets to get you on your way.

Check out the CMP E-Store, book store section. Great material, two of the best books you can get is their "International Rifle Marksmanship" Guide and the "Service Pistol Guide" put out by the Army Marksmanship Unit. The books run $6.95 each, worth their weight in gold.

Get the back ground, and if you want to coach/instruct, learn how to instruct. Take in some of college classes designed for teachers.

There are a lot of shooters out there, just about everyone who gets out of the army or law enforcement opens up some sort of shooting school, they're popping up all over, they may or may not have lots of marksmanship experience but few have teaching experience.

Knowing how to shoot is one thing, knowing how to instruct is something totally different.

Anyway I can't stress enough, the Civilian Marksmanship is your best source for the information you're looking for.

It's been around a long time, since 1904 to be exact. (1904 - 1996 it was run by the Army, called the DCM (Division of Civilian Marksmanship) in 1996 Congress changed their Charter where now its run by Civilians, but the same program only more efficient, before the DCM had to be funded by Congress, and didn't get the funds they needed, now the CMP is funded by sales of surplus firearms and equipment.

The program was created for people like you.
Kraig Stuart
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
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Old July 26, 2013, 08:24 AM   #5
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You have received some great responses so far. One thing I would like to add to them is for you to develop an effective teaching style. You obviously have a love for teaching. And you have a good, teachable spirit in that you are asking others to opine on your desires.

In addition to being intelligent on the subject matter at hand, a good instructor must also be effective at communicating. Universities are filled with PhD instructors who couldn't teach their way out of a wet paper bag. Trust me, I have had several of them. But the ones who are knowledgeable AND know how to teach are invaluable. Many people can become teachers, few can become good ones.

As you heed the advice given here by others, also see if you can shadow an instructor. Not just any instructor - find a good one! Watch their characteristics as they teach. What makes them so good? Maybe be their assistant as you learn. Or maybe you can ask them to mentor you.

Age can be another factor, at least initially. People older than you might have a hard time taking serious instruction from you. I had a MA instructor once that was 20 years my junior. But after only a few classes, I knew this "kid" was definitely my superior in the dojo. So in your younger years, you will also need to communicate your authority to the class.

Let us know how your endeavor goes!

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Old July 26, 2013, 09:24 AM   #6
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Why can't you drive yourself to the range?
No driver's license, no car?
You're apparently of age for a temporary or restricted license, that allows driving alone, during daylight hours
Checking the gun range listings for your area shows the Ancient City club and range.
No doubt there are others, too.
They probably have competitions, instruction and instructors to talk to.
Knowing the basics of shooting isn't even a small fraction of the knowledge necessary to be a competent instructor.
At the very least acquire and read the NRA instructors handbooks to start.
Walt Kelly, alias Pogo, sez:
“Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent.”

Last edited by g.willikers; July 26, 2013 at 09:34 AM.
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Old July 26, 2013, 03:18 PM   #7
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I can't drive myself to the range A: Because I don't have a license (I have a restricted license and am very close to getting a license) but B because I can't be in possession of a gun. My range also won't let you check in if you're under 18 unless you're with an adult.

I do go to the Ancient City Shooting Range (nice find) and love it there. They have great instructors. It is where I took my first steps class and where my parents took their CCW class. Also where we are going to take the defensive carry class.

Of the 4H/ CMP classes, are any pistol specific? I don't currently have a rifle, and the one I was going to buy was a bolt action .22. I wouldn't let this stop me, but until I can get a rifle I'd like to see what there is to do.

To be frank, after really thinking about my schedule, I don't know if I could do i right now. I do a lot of activities that I love right now that are free or even cost money. I'm starting school in September as well. At least until I have at least one activity that is for some kind of financial stability, I don't know I could take on another endeavor simply for the love.

That doesn't mean I can't start learning now though! If nothing else the learning is fun.

I definitely want to take an Appleseed class at some point, but I'll just have to keep an eye on what my range has going on. I'll also look into the 4H, CMP, competitions, and recommended reading in the mean time.

Thank you all for your great answers.
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Old July 26, 2013, 06:22 PM   #8
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Check out the NRA Instructor courses.

You might want to start with something like Home Safety. Why? You want to start learning how to teach. I met some very knowledgeable people who have very little in the ways of teaching skills.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!
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Old July 26, 2013, 09:02 PM   #9
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You might want to get some experience carrying concealed for a while, or maybe some real world experience like the military or LE. Take some classes and learn as much as you can. Not only should you know what you are talking about, but you should be able to articulate why you are talking about it, like giving real world experience. Like g.willikers was talking about with the MA instructor, I am in that type of situation, I am a Sgt. with only 7 yrs, and i'm 32 yrs old and some people look down on that because I don't have a lot of time or age, but I have a lot of different experiences, and seen a lot of different things in corrections. That real world experience helps out a lot, when you are trying to convey something to someone, you have to explain why you are teaching them that way and not some other way. Sorry for the ramble just trying to give some advice, good luck!
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Old July 26, 2013, 09:33 PM   #10
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If you're "about to enter school" (I assume college) take some classes in teaching pedagogy. Just liking guns and being a good shot doesn't automatically make you a good instructor. Critically analyze your own teachers, instructors, professors and decide what it is you think makes THEM effective. And what makes them less than effective. Emulate the good stuff, avoid the bad stuff.

Teaching, any subject, can be tremendously frustrating and tremendously rewarding at the same time. It might be quite a rude awakening, for example, to try and get across all that great stuff about stance and sight picture and whatever you may feel so great about, when there's that one goofball in the class who just won't shut up about "I don't care what anyone says, if some slug comes around me, I'll blow him away". That goofball paid for the class just like the others. You owe him your expertise just like the others. But there's a big brick wall that you'll have to get through first, in order to get that expertise to the guy.

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Old July 26, 2013, 10:25 PM   #11
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I may well decide to take some teaching pedagogy classes. I am going to my local community college to earn a technical certification in stage technology. Things like lighting, sound, with some electives like recording and A/V equipment.

Given that teaching is also one of the most common sources of income for musicians, I think a teaching pedagogy class may be very good for me. I know that I have the ability to be an effective teacher but as I learned in the 8 months of teaching music, that's a skill that has to be learned, studied, and practice just like shooting or bass guitar.

Last edited by dakota.potts; July 26, 2013 at 10:32 PM.
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Old July 26, 2013, 10:54 PM   #12
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Check out Florida State University and see if there are any scholarships available for their shooting team, also check out the Florida State Rifle Association

Good luck
Si vis pacem, para bellum

Last edited by Jim243; July 26, 2013 at 11:00 PM.
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Old July 27, 2013, 07:31 AM   #13
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Right now you are the student and you want to be a teacher. The best way to accomplish this, in my opinion, is to concentrate on being the student.

Take as many classes in your chosen field as possible. Some will be better than others and some instructors will be better than others. Some instructors will be paid professionals and some will just be interesting folks you meet along the way. You sometimes can't recognize or appreciate the good until you have experienced the bad. And the best instructors are not always the ones you like the most or even ones you paid the most. They are the ones who teach you the most.

Become a student of being a student and make a point to remember all the things that helped you over your hurdles so you can someday help others. A good instructor should be able to demonstrate anything they teach on demand and should be an accomplished expert in what they teach. But they also must be able to go back in their mind and remember what it was like when they were the student. They have to be able to get into the student's head, walk in their shoes and explain things to them in terms they can understand with their limited knowledge of the subject.

Don't be too quick to learn about teaching just yet. Learn about learning and become expert at what you do first. After that, learning to teach will be less difficult if you have already learned to learn.
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Old July 27, 2013, 02:02 PM   #14
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May I suggest increasing your influence at the range where you shoot, by taking an RSO training course. Get permission from the range, too hold your classroom training there, including live fire training. Try being an assistant for a firearm's instructor. View a lot of firearm training DVD' Magpul, Matt Burkett, Three Grand Masters, etc, etc.

Good luck,

That rifle hanging on the wall of the working class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there."

--- George Orwell
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Old August 16, 2013, 11:51 AM   #15
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The assistant NRA instructor would be my recommendation as well.
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Old August 16, 2013, 12:16 PM   #16
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I took the plunge and began work as a full-time instructor in January. My co-workers and I joke about having taken "the vow of poverty", but if I had to do it again ... I would.

Be prepared to work hard. This job isn't 8-5. We work weekends. Always keep an open mind. Get as much experience as you possibly can. Learn from as many teachers as you can get to talk you ... formally and informally, on the range and off. Work on your public speaking skills. Learn about how adults learn. Take instructor courses from an established instructor or company. Did I mention to keep an open mind?

Frankly, though -- if you've ever taken a newbie to the range or if your circle of friends/family looks to you as the "gun guy", then you've already stepped into an instructor role. The more you teach others, the more you will realize you need to learn (I promise.) Keep working on it and keep learning.
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Old August 18, 2013, 06:22 AM   #17
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"firearms instructor" is a much used and ABUSED term. In my opinion, it's right in the same category with "used car salesman". Way too many folks who make claims but can't/don't fulfill those claims. Then you have those who are actually a danger to themselves and their students.
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Old August 19, 2013, 11:32 AM   #18
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Great suggestions above. I would add one more for any aspiring teacher: join Toastmasters. That affordable organization provides people with good speaking and presentation skills, and it teaches you how to think on your feet in front of other people. Those are all very essential skills for anyone who teaches.

You can do that now. Most local Toastmasters clubs have no lower age limit.

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Old August 21, 2013, 03:57 AM   #19
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Lots of good advice. I'm acyually in the middle of starting my training company.

Best advice I can give is NEVER stop learning. I'm constantly taking classes and improving myself. Once you start teaching you will realize how much you don't know. And you will actually learn alot just by teaching.

Main thing is know your subject. Don't try and teach something that you don't know inside and out. Start by just offering basic safety and fundamental classes, and when your skills an knowledge allow, move on to adding more advanced classes.

As a younger person myself it can be hard to establish respect from older people that are taking from you. You have to establish your authority as an instructor and show that you do actually know what you're talking about. Not in a mean way, but I think you know what I mean. Be confident and speak clearly and with authority. The respect will follow.

Always keep an open mind and always find a way to improve.

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Old August 21, 2013, 02:54 PM   #20
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I'm an old guy, just starting to get into "the biz" as they say. I got my NRA Basic Pistol Instructor cert a couple years ago, assisted with a few classes with experienced instructors, and am just now starting my training company. I have no plans for full time income, starting the next Thunder Ranch or Gunsite type facility. I,m just looking at doing something I enjoy, maybe supplementing my income a little when I retire from my "real job", and passing on good information to new shooters. That's my niche, and I will never try to represent myself to my students as some kind of a tactical expert or seasoned warrior.
My background, I served with the Navy Seabees for four years, one year in Viet Nam. But as the primary role of the Seabees was to build stuff, we had very little trigger time on our M16s and our firearms training was dismal. So I don't count my time in a war zone as qualifications to teach firearms skills. I have owned guns since I was 12, shot, hunted, and competed my entire adult life. I have taught several people job skills in the course of my 35 years in Industrial Maintenance. I have 25 years in the volunteer fire service, many as a line officer, and 5 years as the Fire Chief. That gave me the chance to make several public presentations, assume the responsibility for the safety of several people at a time, and teach needed skills to firefighters and EMS providers. Most of all, it taught me to work under pressure and get a lot of people back from dangerous operations without incident. I have held a CCW permit for 15 years and have carried a defensive firearm daily wherever I could during that time. I have taken as much professional training as I can afford time and money for, and will continue to do so as long as my old limbs will hold me up. I do count that as qualifications to teach shooters.
I intend to teach new shooters basic safety, how guns work, and the mindset they need to adopt. I will teach new conceal carry permit holders basic safety and tactics, mindset, and gun handling skills. They don't need another wiz-bang variation of draw stroke, they need to understand the importance of getting the gun out of the holster, with a firm grip, without covering your support hand, and without prematurely pressing the trigger. They need to understand the importance of movement, cover, and knowing whats behind what they are shooting at. Most of all I will teach them to continue to seek training from more advanced trainers rather than ask them to pay me to teach them stuff they can see on You Tube. Not good for marketing my business, but I will sleep well at night.
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Old August 21, 2013, 05:50 PM   #21
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I think as a young man your aspirations are exemplary. I would get involved in whatever NRA activities are available in your area. You are in that transitional period between 17 and 21 - use this period to learn and improve. If there are community college courses on law or POST training attend them.

As you can afford it take classes from any of the quality schools of instructors. Work up to perhaps assisting instructors as you gain experience.

Take a college class in teaching. Teaching is a study of itself, it's not just showing someone how to do something, it is how you go about letting them learn. I'm sure after 12 years of school so far you probably understand that.

Once you are 18 you might take a security guard course. Whether you work in the field or not you will usually learn stuff.

There is also always the Army. Though my advice on that is go ROTC and be an officer.

Good luck in your endevours!
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