You go to the range with your friend and end up sorting out what’s wrong with his grip. You take someone new — and scared silly — to the range, and she goes home with a huge grin. You help random strangers solve problems with their firearms.
Hey Dawn, Zee, and Gang, I am a 59 year old who would love to get involved in firearms instructing as I approach retirement. I have sales and an unrelated training background, but I am NOT past or present military or law enforcement. Seems trying to get clients without that background would be difficult. I have thrown this concern out there before but it didn’t get much traction. Trying to talk to existing USCCA instructors about this and I usually get blown off (nicely) with yea, you need that background. Obviously they also don’t want more competition. Any thoughts on this from your perspective?
@ThatSoccerDude - now that you mention it, that is a good point and a good topic of conversation. I too am an accomplished teacher/instructor and nearing the point in which I could retire from my corporate life. However, same as you I do not have a background in LE or Military. Nearly every training facility near me is run by someone with extensive LEO or Military background. The other background that seems to be of usefulness is having shot IDPA, USPSA or IPSC competition extensively and have multiple championships. So I would ask the same question. If you do not have any of this background but are just a gifted instructor who has common sense and skills in firearms and shooting what are the odds that your business will be successful? What angle could be used to attract customers when the proverbial odds are stacked against you?
@ThatSoccerDude and @antqcoltfan I do not have military background (I was raising 2 little girls by myself) . I do have a corrections background for what that is worth. I just finished the shooting instructors class and this is what I got from the class. If you can stand in front of a group and be professional and give solid information you can make it as an instructor. I believe the word of mouth from your students will carry more weight with their friends and family. Especially when the student tells how much they learned. At the end that is what anybody cares about. Teach - the world needs it.
Hey Mike. Thanks. Yea. I think I’d be fine in front of people and providing quality info, but how do I get those first few classes without some credentials other than USCCA? How about locations? Have you found that having USCCA course instructor certification is enough for them to use you? Thanks again
When you put yourself out there, people will come to you. Don’t forget you can advertise through USCCA also. List out the creds you have along with the USCCA and it will all come together. I don’t have any whizbang creds. I plan on starting with family and build it from there. Steve I don’t know where you are at in the country, I will do all I can to help. Steve I am just getting it together myself. Just move forward with confidence.
Right off the top I’m going to tell you you do NOT need that background. Some of your potential students may have that background themselves and want a trainer who has it also. But that is not MOST of the people who want - and need - to learn. I don’t have that background, so I don’t actively market my classes into military or LEO groups. There are many many students who need something besides that in an instructor.
While having military or LEO background brings you certain kinds of experience and training it is not the only thing you need to be an instructor - I’d say its not even the key thing. There are a ton of other things you can bring to the table as a teacher. Patience. Enthusiasm. The ability to see what your student needs to know, do, hear. The willingness to check your ego and admit to not knowing everything. The capacity to really listen to what a student is saying, experiencing, feeling. The confidence to look someone in the eye and say “You can do this” and believe it for them, even when they can’t. The emotional toughness to tell a student an uncomfortable truth they need to hear, and the savvy to do it in a way they can hear it. The determination to stay at it with a student who is struggling. The resourcefulness to find new ways to present information for a student who isn’t getting it. The ability to see your student’s success as your own. Above all, the willingness to get up and do the hard work of not just teaching but treating it like a profession, even if its just a side business.
In some of my recent teacher trainings, I found myself studying along side a former SEAL, a special forces medic, an ICU nurse, a former air marshal, a person who runs a private security firm, business owners, active duty police officers, and a whole lot of other folks with a lot more LEO or military experience than I have. It can be intimidating. I look at them and think… “…the heck am I doing here? I don’t have the kind of experience they have… I’m just an engineer and somebody’s great-grandmother!”
But I have experiences my classmates don’t - many thousands of hours of teaching different subjects. Overcoming debilitating personal fears. Facing and overcoming phobias. Helping people manage emotional crisis moments in critical situations. Being female and scared of firearms. Being 60 with the challenges that come with no longer being young and fit. Being able to remember what it was like the first time I shot a gun. And the second. And the third.
If you’re interested in being a teacher, begin. There’s no need to compare yourself to other teachers… they won’t be teaching your students, you will.
In fact - you will find that teaching people who are new to firearms is easier than teaching people who have the military or LEO background. And the same is for the teacher not having that background. Why? You will be able to relate with students who don’t have those backgrounds.
Military and LEO students have to unlearn some of their prior training when it comes to carrying as a civilian - which isn’t impossible, just an added level of training they have to do.
And as many instructors will tell you, one of the hardest parts of teaching a class is filling the classroom. You have the sales background that will help!
PLEASE use the USCCA Instructor portal to help advertise your class! That’s why we built it! We want you to have full classrooms and be able to focus more of your time and energy on teaching - not advertising.
Zee, Good article and well worth the reading. I’ve now transitioned" from my day job and running my part -time gunsmith shop I started in 2012. As part of that I got trained as an official KY CCDW instructor. Yet have always tried to find the time to get the USCCA instructor cert from the time it was first offered so that I can offer classes beyond just the KY CCDW. Am still trying to find the time and since I have to travel a bit to find a class, now the funds to attain the credentials.
Do have a past customer that’s certified to teach the official USCCA instructor course, yet he’s still 2 hours away.
So, in the meantime, shop is keeping me busy and I’m constantly striving to learn new skills to improve my shooting. Nevertheless, still a struggle to get enough practice.
Thanks again for the article and stay safe!
BTW, shop website is www.jrsgunworx.com
I fall into the same category as you in terms of not being ex LE, Military, etc. What Zee recommended concerning taking the course as a student before you take the instructors course is I think critical. After having completed the USCCA DSF Level 1 Instructors course, and just talking to friends/relatives about that training, I’ve found more than enough people who want instruction. I’ve also connected with other more experienced instructors, who are more than willing to let me come and observe/teach portions of the class, vs trying to carry a full day of instruction on my own. So as others have told you, if you are comfortable speaking/presenting in front of a group, then you can be an effective firearms instructor.
Since I was just certified as the COVID 19 began shutting things down, I haven’t been able to teach the DSF Level 1 course yet. But to answer your question, there is one local outdoor range that I plan to use, I have access to the gun range at my hunt club, and I’ve been in touch with other instructors within a 2hr drive that have courses scheduled, and are willing to let me help teach. And finally I have friends that have property I can use. I also obtained my NRA RSO certification as I thought that to be an important element as well. In order to keep up my skills I invested in a SIRT Pistol, which allows me to practice drills at home. I would highly recommend doing that whether or not you plan on teaching. There are pretty good pricing deals on SIRT’s right now through USCCA and Next Level Training. Hope this helps and good luck.
I have two SIRT pistols and use them all the time in my classes and personal training. They are a great way to get beginners started and have been a source of very positive client feedback. I also use mine for personal practice. I also use the https://lasrapp.com/ laser app software and that is very flexible and has come great functions. I recommend you look at the software. If you use the code " recshed " at checkout it gives you a little discount. another cool thing is that they have online matches that are fun to set up and compete in.
Thanks, my SIRT is on the way. I have a LaserLt target system that I’ve been using but having to rack the slide every time to activate the laser cartridge was too time consuming for training. I’m anxious to see if it will work with the SIRT.