3 Tips on Choosing Firearm Training Classes

3 Tips on Choosing Firearm Training Class
3 Tips on Choosing Firearm Training Class
3 Tips on Choosing Firearm Training Class
3 Tips on Choosing Firearm Training Class

I recently had a co-worker ask me about an advertisement in the paper offering an out of state concealed carry permit class. As was I talking to him, I learned he really does not know what states our permit is honored in. In our state the permit system is a “shall issue” and does not have a requirement of taking a basic course. He expressed his desire to get some instruction, but has never taken a formal firearms course and was not sure if this is what he was looking for. At this time I started to explain about my business which is offering NRA Handgun courses, and the variety of topics covered just in the basic course. As we were talking, I mentioned about some of the materials he would receive such as NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting, and Concealed Carry Holster Guide.

I began to think, what does the average gun owner know about picking a training course or even what to look for? As I considered how someone similar to my co-worker with no formal experience with firearms training would select a training course. I realized there were many factors to consider. It really does not matter whether they are planning on taking your basic class to get a permit or seeking out training to improve their own skill set. With this in mind, I came up with three points for a potential student to consider when picking a trainer and a course.

First factor to consider, does the instructor hold any current certifications as a firearms instructor such as: NRA Instructor Certification, listed as an instructor on your state’s approved concealed carry instructors list, or other certifications.

Second, what experience does this instructor have in teaching firearms courses? For example, has the instructor taught firearms courses to law enforcement or military in the past since retiring, or do they still hold these positions.

Third, are they a local instructor who you have easy access to their courses? Will this instructor offer advanced courses to increase your skill sets after completing the basic course? When asked about staying current with firearms training as an instructor, are they able to provide a satisfactory explanation about their own co

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Matt Schlueter is a retired Deputy Sheriff from South Dakota with over 19 years of combined experience in corrections and law enforcement, and held the position of Firearms Instructor and DARE officer with the Sheriffs Office he worked at till his retirement. He is also a NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, and owner/chief instructor of Schlueter Firearms Instruction. Matt’s goal is to provide the best information possible for those who want to further their knowledge and skills in shooting handguns. Matt’s goals also include providing the best training courses possible for students who attended courses he is offering. For those wishing to contact him please visit his website at www.learntwoshoot.com, or www.zwarriortraining.com or you can join him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SchlueterFirearmsInstruction.
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I think these are very good things to look for when seeking training.   I received my normal training through my law enforcement agency for about 25 years.   However, I still found it valuable to seek out and take other firearm training from private entities that are qualified to teach.   There is no one size that fits all in training and learning from other sources is very valuable.   Thanks for offering these fine tips.


I’m going to to agree on some of your points.

But first I want to say that I have gone to many training seminars with law enforcement and military personnel…and just because they are MIL or LEO does not make them safe or provides them the experience to teach and be safe teaching.

You should look for a good instructor that is safe and can convey the information in a way that your students can retain it.

We all know that not all departments have a huge training budget. We all know that most of the departments will only Qualify once a year… Some officers are lucky if they get sent to a training once every 2-3 years.

so.. I’m sorry You need to look for a good instructor…not just an instructor that was LEO or MIL.

Again…nothing against LEO and MIL (prior on both).

but teaching skills just like defensive skills are an asset that can be easy to loose.


I’m on the Treasure coast of Florida.(Port St Lucie) Van anyone recommend an instructor
in my area. Thanks.


 Go to the
St.Lucie Shooting Center and Training Facility

See Ed , tell him Pat sent you. We did our instructor training together.


And What Was Your Point???

Matt Schlueter

The article got chopped off at the end where I touched on questioning an instructors credentials, and what types of continuing education they have taken part in. As far as types of instructors by far military and law enforcement instructors have way more requirements they met just to become an instructor along with any continuing education requirements they have to full fill to maintain their certifications. See below for my complete third point:

Third, are they a local instructor who
you have easy access to their courses? Will this instructor offer
advanced courses to increase your skill sets after completing the basic
course? When asked about staying current with firearms training as an
instructor, are they able to provide a satisfactory explanation about
their own continuing education? Or is this some flyby night operation
that ran an advertisement in the local paper and will only be in the
area for the amount of time it takes to set up hold the course pick up
and leave again.


One thing i didn’t get was time on a shooting range to see how comfortable I was shooting a firearm. I feel this should be a requirement.

Matt Schlueter

 This is a good point a training course that does not have live firing exercises is missing a good opportunity for the student shooter to learn new skills and or advance their shooting skills. The article was about a co worker who works in our jail as a correctional officer and is not required to be firearms certified. The class he was looking at taking did not have a range exercise and was only class room time.


I am an instructor at a well known, local range.  We have both civilian and LE instructors.  OUR experience has shown that non-LE instructors seem to do better at connecting with civilian students. I think (as a civilian instructor) that coppers are trained to think like, well, coppers.  The “go get ’em” mindset that is mandatory with LE is the exact OPPOSITE mindset we want our CCW folks to have.  This is something difficult for LE instructors to leave at the civilian training door.
Nothing scientific here, just general observation after 11 years working along side my LE friends.  Great article.  Thank You.

Larry Arnold

Agreed. There are some very fine LEO and military
instructors. However, many LEO/military instructors spend all their time
recertifying officers and soldiers who already know how to shoot. Starting a
new civilian shooter from the “this is where the bullet comes out” point is a
very different ball game.


The answer to “How far will my handgun shoot?” is
“a mile and a half,” not “seven yards.” I’ve had shooters
with semiautos that don’t know you can get a spare magazine. And one of the
best-kept secrets (because we all know and never think to cover it) is that a
lighter gun kicks harder than a heavier one.


So I’d look for an instructor with enough civilian experience to
understand where civilian shooters are starting from.

Dan Ess

I’ve had training at two places. One was hands on by ex-military that worked at a local range. The other was classroom only, Carry Conceal knowledge based. The latter was an official NRA instructor.  I’d like to hope that the most important steps can be learned without taking any class. Assume every gun is always loaded (the first time you go to pick it up). Even in your own home; even if you cleaned it 5 minutes ago. If it was out of your sight and hands, for any length of time, it could have been loaded. Keep your finger off the trigger (out of the guard if equipped) unless you are going to shoot something (when it is loaded); it’s always loaded, right? What is behind your target; do you want to shoot that too? An instructor is only as good as their ability to correct your errors or make suggestions for your improvement. My hands on instructor failed in that regard. They failed to tell a person who was a danger, that the gun they were shooting was too powerful for them; the person couldn’t control the gun, once the trigger was pulled. The recoil was knocking them off their solid stance, the gun was straight up in the air with only one hand on it. They were a danger and should have been stopped from shooting that caliber. It was a 357mag snub nose. All the training in the world is of no use, if you do not learn from your mistakes; with guns, we cannot afford some of them. Practice, practice, practice; stance, hold, smooth trigger pull and proper and safe gun handling techniques/etiquette. Good training is of great value; reading all you can at a variety of websites is also a great tool for anyone who wants to shoot. If you are going to take a class, read all about the place, ask around, go to forums where helpful information is within reach.


Your article has some good points. I just recently started a firearms training business and have nothing but retired military and LEO’s as instructors. We spend 4-5 hours in the classroom going over law, mindset, safety and equipment. The next day we meet at the range and shoot a defensive pistol match as the hands on portion of the training. In addition to providing a well rounded training experience we also have a chance to introduce new shooters to the local range. States that do not require appropriate training certification prior to issuing a CWP are really irresponsible.


range shooting at a small paper target for class requirements should be thrown out the books nationwide.

In my opinion…why bother wasting the damned bullets?   

 Either just make a class course curriculum with NO SHOOTING or adopt a NATIONWIDE qualifying proficiency shooting test at animated/moving & LIFELIKE subjects to weed out the weak ( i don’t know…I don’t think…I could actually shoot someone) 

It really is pretty damned simple.  SURVIVE or die

Tbark Knives

After handeling firearms of all types since i was 6 years old being taught by my Grandfaher originaly then others over the years ,I brandish no instructors lisenses never been to a coarse on skills but when i took my concealed clases the intructor ask me ot keep coming back to handle His Range officers position ,I do it as i can for him he’s a fine fellow , but for 2 years now he has repeatedly asked me to tech a special class on firearms basics learning the ins an out’s , stripping an cleaning ect as well as basic handeing skills I guess I will probably do it sometime in the near future but I dont think of myself as an instructor more of a sharer of my Skills I have learned in 40+ years of using them that being said I try to maintain a level of integrity by not being totaly Anal as some of these guys i see on Tv on the outdoor channel , anyone got any idea where you would get classes on being a total anal dweeb , not that i would go i just want to know what to avoid in the future , you can totaly teach folks without ll that an they lean toward learning it better if they relax an be themselves .
that being said Classes an instructors should be taylored to what you are wanting to learn not what someone else wants to teach you , for instance  as fat as i am an out of shape I would never sign up for a combat coarse , my attitude is if they want me come an get it you wont like what happens but i dont run that would cause more pain than the gunshot imo hehehe

Jim Fleming

Instructor experience is critical, as is a well-organized classroom curriculum, coupled with safe, effective practical exercises on the range.  LEO trainers can teach civilians, of course, but the presentation needs to be tailored to civilians.  Proper self-defense firearm selection, personal awareness and home safety, and heavy emphasis on the legal aspects of self-defense.  In today’s economy, there are a lot of out-of-work individuals out there who get basic NRA certification and start advertising and teaching a three hour whizbang course with questionable content and next to no rangee work, or none at all.  Be a conspicuous consumer and shop around until you find the right match.

Matt Schlueter

My biggest challenge in starting my business has been our state does not have a training requirement for CCW permits so very few people actually seek out training to advance their own skills. As a full time law enforcement officer one of the biggest challenges is the state has no training requirement, leaving people to many misconceptions as to what they can legally do as a CCW and not finding out what they can not till it is too late.


There is an old adage that says those who can, do,and those who can’t teach.   Often used but not always true. I have had some great instruction from some very competent  people on a variety of subjects. Some not so good.  In the area of music, for instance, some people are wonderful musicians, but poor teachers.  Having all of the skills in the world does not make a good communicator or interesting one.   Teaching is a craft in and of itself. 
 When you interview someone pay particular attention to some of their personal skills.  Are they a good communicator, interesting, engaging, someone you think you could spend some time with?  Do they spend a lot of time blowing their own horn? Seek some recommendations or talk to some one who has taken some instruction from them.Decide what your expectations are from a class or personal lessons before you pick an instructor or course. 

James Matney

I agree with all three points brought up in this article, I am a Police Officer in Missouri and had several friends ask me where to get their CCW certification. So I began looking for reputable instructors in our area (KC Metro) and found there were some good sounding instructors out there but most were “good old boys” or gun store owners who wanted to increase sales. Their experience levels varied but most were armchair instructors who train by PowerPoint and videos only. A clear point missed by the article was that yes some LEO may only train as little as 2 times a year but they CARRY EVERY DAY. To make that point, the safety experience alone should count for something. Also in Mo. and KS LEO and Attorneys are the only persons who can teach the legal portion with out a movie. If I am going to pay someone $50.00 and up I expect to get the knowledge of their experience not a video they bought.  MO and KS residents should check out THIN LINE SHOOTING ACADEMY out of Lone Jack Mo.


“Also in Mo. and KS LEO and Attorneys are the only persons who can teach the legal portion with out a movie.”

I’m LEO in Missouri and CCW instructor. You are wrong about Missouri having to be LEO or Attorney. If in Kansas City area I would say check out safeshoot . It’s not me but I have experiences with this guy.

If you find someone for $50.00 you simply get what you pay for most times.


As a Ks CCHL instructor who asked the Ks state assistant AG about this — you are NOT required to be a lawyer or LEO to teach the 2 hr law section. The instructor orientation (just started 2 yrs ago) deals in relative detail with related case law, opinion letters, and proper handling of questions concerning the legal aspect — I’m not taking the time nor space to expound at length.

Shooters PPFT Clovis, NM

One thing you did not mention is if a graduate from my concealed carry class is ever in a violent confrontation and uses deadly force, my happy little butt will be in the witness chair explaining the training I provided.  To that end my material, style, and abiliy will all be called into question!  I had better be confident, and competent.


We have a neighbor who has been reported several times to the local police as having anger issues.  Why would our Chief give him a permit for a concealed weapon?  Several of us are afraid to open our doors or be out in our yards.  Never had this issue in 40 years in our neighborhood. 


Nice article Matt, but it cuts off and I am not sure if there were many other points. I am glad someone is addressing this. Many people have no idea what to look for in an instructor. In Utah, where I teach, the state mandates what training you offer for concealed carry. In Southern Utah, I am the only instructor offering both CFP and advanced tactical training. The remaining instructors are lacking in real world experience and in many cases, since Utah does not require it, they never take students to the range for live fire instruction. I agree that previous LEAF experience does not make you a good instructor but it does provide an positive environment to learn good teaching and safety. I would add one other thing. Just because someone says they have 18 years experience or whatever, doesn’t mean they have been teaching for that long continuously. I have been teaching LEAF for many years before I became NRA Certified and started teaching civilians. Conversely, many have been NRA Certified for years but haven’t actively taught much during that time. A class or two a year just to make your student quota for certification does not equate to so many years of experience. It drives me crazy when I ask some of these instructors how many classes they teach or how many students they teach a year and they have really really low numbers and then they claim they have 25 years experience. Just saying.

Matt Schlueter

 DanThanks for the feedback, and like wise you have some valid points regarding instructors.  My third point was chopped off but you can read below:Third, are they a local instructor who you have easy access to their courses? Will this instructor offer advanced courses to increase your skill sets after completing the basic course? When asked about staying current with firearms training as an instructor, are they able to provide a satisfactory explanation about their own continuing education? Or is this some flyby night operation that ran an advertisement in the local paper and will only be in the area for the amount of time it takes to set up hold the course pick up and leave again.