I get a lot of folks asking me how they can become a firearms instructor, so today I’m going to tell you exactly what I’d do if I were you. Obviously, it helps if you have prior experience such a police or military, but I know plenty of instructors who don’t have either. However, they have what all instructors need, which is a willingness to learn and study their new chosen “profession.”
The very first thing I’d do if I were you would be to become an NRA certified instructor. It’s very easy to do and you simply take a weekend class. The class will give you a good basic foundation of all things firearms related. Even if you’ve been around guns your entire life, taking the NRA course is a solid refresher and all of us need to be reminded of the basics.
Once you’ve become an NRA instructor then you need to go find yourself a mentor. This is without a doubt the smartest and fastest way to become a quality firearms instructor. In fact, it’s the best way to become good at whatever profession you choose. Find someone who is good at what they do and learn from them.
So how can you find a mentor?
Get on your computer and Google “concealed carry” or “firearms training” plus the state you live in. Or check out the USA Carry Firearm Instructor Directory. There will be lots of local companies that pop up. Check out their websites and find 2 or 3 people that you think are quality and then give them a call and tell them that you would like to learn from them.
Remember, you are going to them to gain knowledge so you need to be honest and show them how it will benefit them. For instance, you could say, “Mr. Smith, I checked out your website. You seem very knowledgeable and I would really love to learn from you. I’ll do whatever you need me to do and I will of course work for free.”
Yes, you read that correctly, offer to work for free. If you are going to learn from a top pro and get all his knowledge that he probably spent a fortune (monetary and in time) learning, you should not expect to get paid. Plus, offering to work for free makes it a lot easier for him to say yes to your request.
While you’re interviewing mentors make sure they know what they’re doing and that they are active in the business. The dirty little secret of most firearms instructors is that they’re not really instructors at all. They call themselves “instructors” but haven’t ever taught a class or done anything since they took the NRA class over 20 years ago.
So, if the fellow you’re talking to isn’t putting on concealed carry classes, or pistol courses, or any number of firearms classes, then choose someone else, because you won’t learn a thing from this person.
Once you find the right person…
Be very courteous and respectful and thank them for allowing you to learn from them. For instance, I have had apprentices in my business and a surefire way to have me get rid of you is to not show up on time for an event or not act professional. In other words, remember, once you are getting mentored by someone and are at one of their pistol courses you are now a reflection of their company.
Another extremely important thing to consider is if you are looking to become a firearms instructor as a hobby or as a full-time business. I can tell you from personal experience that running a firearms business is just like any other business. You have to do your marketing, your accounting, etc. etc. etc.
But also, if you do become a full-time instructor, it’s one of the most rewarding jobs out there. And that brings me to perhaps my most important point of all. You’ve really got to care about personal protection and helping people be safe. If you’re looking to become an instructor to “get rich quick” I wouldn’t quit your day job.
One final thing. If you do decide to become a full-time firearms instructor, have a mentor as long as you need to. However, there will come a day when you must get the courage to go out on your own and start teaching your own classes. But if you’re smart, you’ll ask your mentor for help and you’ll figure out a way to partner with them.