I'm thinking about taking the instructor course. Any Instructors out there?

I’m thinking about taking the instructor course. Are there any instructors out there who can provide any insights about the current need for instructors? Could a person make a successful living at it if they needed to do it full-time? Is it a highly competitive field? How does USCCA’s course compare with the NRA’s? What about teaching in front of others? Any other insights or things I should consider?

I have worked full time as a graphic designer for the last 20 or so years. My concern right now is that I am getting older (54) and this is a field that is looking for younger and hipper (and dare I say millennial) types of people. Given the current situation with the Coronavirus, I just want to look at other options.

I know there are lots of variables with the questions above, so here is a little bit more info on me. I live in Phoenix, AZ (approx. population 5 million). I am an NRA member and have been a USCCA Platinum Level member for close to 3 years (I signed my wife up as well). I have been a gun owner for 6 or 7 years and own several guns, rifles and shotguns. I have my CCW but other than that my training comes from range time, desert shooting time, and constantly filling my noggin with everything I can find thats gun related. Whether its USCCA magazine, American Rifleman magazine, youtube videos or just chattin’ it up with like minded individuals, I enjoy just about all things gun related.

Any help, insights or general comments would be appreciated.



If you think your age will make you seem “less credible” just remember Jerry Miculek and Massad Ayoob.


I can’t speak to the earning potential or competitiveness outside of my own market, particularly since I’m a part time instructor. Teaching and speaking in front of others is an absolute must skill. I have a teaching and coaching background and I’m a principal nowadays so that aspect doesn’t bother me, but it is as crucial or more so than an insane depth of knowledge on the topic. If you’ve never had experience with it I can assure you with preparation and experience it isn’t as bad as it may seem.

I can speak to the variances of NRA/USCCA. I’ve been an NRA instructor for a while in Pistol and as of last year the new CCW. I recently obtained my USCCA CCHD cert in February. Due to the pandemic I’ve only been able to teach the USCCA course once and I’ve had a good deal of experience with NRA BOPs and CCW.

In my state, for a resident to obtain a CCW permit, they either have to take NRA BOPs or USCCA CCHD. Most of my classes have been BOPs but I’m moving to the USCCA curriculum for all permit classes in the future. The NRA Basic Pistol is a good solid course for beginners or even a refresher course, but it is in no way as pertinent as the USCCA CCHD for permit seekers, at least in my opinion. BOPs is safety and basic gun handling and fundamentals based, where as CCHD is actually heavily focused on carrying a firearm daily and all that entails. I believe the USCCA content provides students with a much better base to begin carrying on a daily basis.

On the other hand, I lean toward the NRA CCW course. Please forgive me USCCA community! Some states allow this course to satisfy permit requirements but we do not, so I teach this course more as an “After obtaining the permit” type course. CCW and USCCA CCHD have a lot of things in common but differ greatly in areas. The USCCA material is much more polished and up to date graphically, but both provide high quality curriculum.

Honestly I don’t think you can go wrong with either program. Both provide solid curriculum and it’s up to us instructors to make sure we are effectively transferring that material to the students.

Hope this helped and good luck!


Amen! Don’t forget Tom Givens either!


@Anthony2 I will say any training is good training as long as you learn something. I have had the benefit of a l lot of “structured” training as well as “real life” training. There are ALWAYS needs for instructors but making your place in the industry is tough. Can you make a living? Probably not unless you have access to the unobtanium of the firearms industry, land and neighbors that don’t mind gun fire. Firearms instructors that make a living have certs from multiple entities as well as a SIGNIFICANT background in firearms with real world experience or competitive titles. I teach very specific students with very specific needs and have both real world “training” and competitive accolades. There are no certificates of training for what I teach and my reputation is the the reason I get called back. No I can’t make a living teaching people (on my own) and as such I can’t afford to not work a real job. I am an “associate” instructor for several larger training companies and do odd training and T&E/D jobs for our Gov’t on occasion. If I was looking to make a firearms centric career shift I would look into reloading components and a general FFL.




A bunch of your questions were answered and I virtually agree with all of them, great advise. My background is;I own my own successful business and have been an entrepreneur near my entire life. I have professional structured firearms and tactical training. I own a bunch of firearms, reload, provide guided hunts and instruct. I’m about your age.

The current need for instructors, I’d say there is a need more than ever with what is going on. Much of it may depend on the area you’re in. For example in the Bay Area, I’d say not so much, in a place like Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, other red states with large metro areas, more than likely. You’re located in AZ, where as you aren’t right next door to Pauldin AZ and Gunsite you have to make yourself different from them by providing maybe a bunch of 1 on 1 or couples or family training. Have you googled and researched how many training facilities there are around you. People come to me because they want more of a personal training session, and out in the country, particularly not at an indoor range with a bunch of people they don’t know. Now, the more folks you have in a class the more money you’ll make. I pretty much do it for fun and enjoy helping people with firearms. If you have a passion for it and need the cash, all the better. Successful living, depends on what your needs are?

If you have never taught in front of others, it will be just like anything else. Muscle memory. The more you do it the better and easier it will get. The USCCA instructor training will get you up to speed. You will know your curriculum backwards and forwards so it’s easy to teach what you know, so no worries.

54yo, this is not a factor. If anything it will give you more credibility over the young whipper snappers. Just look at yourself as Yoda or Mr. MeOggy (sp).

Do you have land?
Have you ever owned your own business?
How much $$$ would you need this to make to live/thrive?
Would you quit your day job?

We all look forward to helping you here!


Lol great reply. I watch their videos all the time. I was just thinking about my age as it relates to my current job as a graphic designer.

And Don’t forget hickok45!



Anthony, great replies from the masters above that have spoken. We also have a full time company, and we have been self employed most of my life. We are fortunate to live in the country and have our own private range, and a very unique moving target system for training. Nobody in our area has the training system that we have. I am 64, I love to teach and train small groups of people or couples, and beginners. Idaho is a permitless carry state, and a since that was enacted, the demand for concealed carry permits dropped. Idaho has a quirky law, that only a LEO or an attorney can teach the law portion of a class, for enhanced concealed carry. Since we fabricate, our goal is to build target systems, etc. to compliment our teaching and training. Full time instructing? No, the demand isn’t at that point as of yet. The USCCA is cutting edge and polished, and with the insurance, it makes a total package available.

Hoping that Zee will chime in here as well, as her and husband have an excellent background. There are also many other instructors here that can offer words of wisdom.

Ask as many questions as you like.


I just started instructing pistol (certified in USCCA, NRA pistol and rifle instruction) after having been a trainer/presenter for 25 years–so instructing is no big deal. The tough part is the start up cost for the business.
Marketing–web site development/maintenance.
Classroom space rental
Range rental
instructor insurance
office supplies
Cost of incorporation
Legal fees, accountant fees

For me, this is a side gig–I help a bigger company out when I have free time. It’s really enjoyable and rewarding for me, but I know I would not want this to be my full time gig, given my lack of accomodations for range time and classroom space.

I would say (no disrespect)–you have very little experience in the world of firearms (chronologically speaking). This is not necessarily a detriment, but it definitely will not help you.
By now, I hope you understand your skill set well enough to know that you are capable of presenting a good product.

There are a lot of instructors who frankly make poor instructors. While this is a skill that can be taught, this requires practice, like any other skill, and practicing in front of a real class is not an option. If you are not an excellent public speaker, I would not recommend you doing this.

My advice? Figure out how much you want to make a year. Build a 5 year business plan, factoring in all expenses and revenue. Figure out how many students you’ll need weekly/monthly to make it work.
I have sat down and done this with several people–most people really don’t understand the time/money/effort that it takes to start and grow a business.

I’d recommend you take some instructor classes from USCCA and NRA (don’t forget CRSO or at least RSO).
Best of luck with whatever you decide.


Thank you SKIdaho, I appreciate your reply!

Arizona is really great when it comes to firearm protections. I think that the market here may be pretty saturated here in regards to instructors. If I were to proceed with this I would definitely have to rent time and space at local gun ranges.

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Thank you for your insights Jeff! From all I have read and researched so far, its seems like USCCA’s courses are like you say “more polished”. It almost seems like even if I were to never teach a class I would get a great deal of knowledge from taking these courses.


Thanks Aaron! No disrespect taken, I truly appreciate your honesty. I have been around firearms all of my life. My dad is an ex marine who taught us how to handle and respect guns since I was little. It wasn’t until I was able to actually afford to buy and maintain my weapons that I started to purchase them for myself.

You have provided me with lots to think about aside form the actual instructing itself. Thank you very much!


Thanks Craig! Everyone including you is giving me really good advice to consider.


Zee where are you? lol

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LOL. “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” -Yoda

Hey Fizbin! I do not have land. I would have to rent space and time at one of the local ranges. I only mentioned my age of 54 as it relates to my day job as a graphic/digital designer. HR people are looking for more young, hip, trendy folks in that line of work. I dont want to quit my day job but given the current climate (coronavirus), I am considering backup plans. I have freelanced before and I’m also a licensed drone pilot but the demand just isn’t there right now.

Thank you for your advice! Truly appreciated.



@Aaron25 Once you become a certified USCCA Instructor what are the requirements to maintain your certification?

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Good question. I want to know too.

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Yes, i fell like instructor courses are very informative. You’re not gonna get coached up on skill, you’re expected to have that already, but I absolutely love collaborating with other instructors in that environment and the productive discussions that take place.


20 students per year. Pretty reasonable to maintain!


I wonder if they’re gonna cut some slack on that due to the pandemic? Gonna be hard for some new instructors to hit that number if this persists for a while.