I took the NRA CCW Instructor the weekend of October 25-27, 2019 and wanted to give everyone an overview of my impression.
The NRA CCW Instructor course was rolled out to instructors at the 2018 NRA Annual meeting in Dallas, TX by the NRA Training and Education staff. Stories I heard from back then were that over 40% of the instructor candidates could not pass the shooting portion of the course which were based on PPOTH and Defensive Pistol exercises. Throughout the remainder of 2018 and the first half of 2019 NRA T&E staff put on additional instructor courses and refined the course until May 2019 when the course was released to the public. Keep in mind until it was publicly released instructors could not teach the curriculum and training counselors could not teach the instructor classes.
Fast forward to the 2019 NRA AM Instructor update when it was officially announced and available to the public. As a NRA Training Counselor and USCCA Training Counselor the idea of taking another CCW entry level course was not at the top of my priorities list honestly and I wanted some time to pass to see how the course was received and instructor reactions.
In general the responses from those that understood the focus of the course were positive after the NRA AM. The NRA wanted to create a module course that instructors could teach that would meet the numerous state CCW requirements and also give them additional modules to teach for those students looking for advance skills.
There were plenty of people upset that experienced instructors had to go through a shooting qualification and they could not find out what the qualification was before hand. In my opinion yes this is a break from the standard NRA Instructor practices but if you are a pistol instructor and cannot shoot a basic CCW qualification successfully then you might need more training and/or practice. The qualification is timed and you have to achieve a 90% or better to pass on the instructor course. Keep in mind that the qualification is not some super fast ninja stuff but what I would call standard draw and shoot type of exercises. If you are worried about your skill level take training and practice.
I finally decided to take the NRA CCW Instructor course for two reason first one being I’m already certified in all the NRA disciplines available and I wanted to keep that going and second I run a business and if I have students (aka instructors) who want to teach NRA curriculum then I need to make sure I can offer the course. At this time I do not see me switching my student classes away from the USCCA CCW course but time will tell as always.
The course I attended was from Dave Jenkins from Rochester Personal Defense, LLC at Klint Macro’s range for Trigger Pressers Union. I’ve known Dave and Klint for several years and knew this was going to be a quality course and one were I can learn how to make the course successful from a TC point of view.
Friday was a long drive from Cincinnati, OH to New Kensington, PA but I arrived just about on time and class introductions were just beginning. The one surprise during the introduction was that I try and get to additional training each year to stay on top of trends and also to keep myself sharp. From the introductions I could tell that I train to a higher degree during the year than most of the other instructors. Overall I really enjoyed the other students and learned something from all of them. Friday night was all about the NRA CCW Student course, the different modules, and how you can customize it to fit whatever your state regulations are or what your focus of the class is. Out of the 10 modules you are only required to teach module 1 which is firearm safety. Why you would only want to teach that one module is a good question but whatever you teach it will be printed on the NRA certificate. The books for the course are the Basic of Pistol Shooting and Personal Protection Outside The Home books. As of the writing of this post the NRA has not published a dedicated book for the class which I really hope they do soon.
Saturday we jumped into doing teach backs for various modules in the course. The afternoon we spent on the range doing the student drills. HINT HINT: The student drills are the same as the instructor qualification except they are timed. So you get the afternoon before to practice before the instructor qualification! Some of you reading this might be asking ok, tell us what these drills are and we can practice them. Here’s my suggestion, go to the range and practice drawing, moving, and shooting at the IDPA target making sure you are hitting the A zone. If you can do that reliably you can pass the shooting portion of the class.
Sunday we reviewed what happened on Saturday and did more teach backs of the various modules similar to other NRA courses. Although teach backs can be boring for instructors who have done them many times before I really appreciated watching the teach backs because i could see different people’s teaching styles and I could also get feedback on my style. No one is perfect and if we aren’t open to feedback then we’ll never improve and I’m always trying to improve myself. After the teach backs we headed to the range for the qualification shooting.
The qualification shooting was similar to what we had done on Saturday except this time we had to do it under a timer. On my first attempt I dropped one shot outside the A zone at 5 yards because I rushed it and wasn’t seeing my sites. My big mistake was at 15 yards where I missed the target which is a automatic DQ. I may not be an olympic shooter but I do know how to shoot pretty well. For the past year plus I’ve been having problem focusing on my sites and the target when I get back past 10 yards. It’s my eyes I know and I’ve been working with my eye doctor on that for a while but that still doesn’t make it any better. Ways I have found to adapt was to have a high contrast target and good lighting. We were outside so I couldn’t fix the lighting but I could go ahead and paint a nice blue dot on the center of the B27 target. There were 2 other instructors who didn’t pass the first time and shot with me on my second attempt. On the second try with a better contrasting target I was spot on and myself and everyone else passed. Note: there was one instructor who passed the qualification with a SIG P365.
In the end the shooting qualification was a good measure because when you have 8 dedicated instructors who all pass that is good. It wasn’t a cake walk but was a good measure to ensure all instructors could shoot and demonstrate the skills necessary.
As far as future classes go here at American Defense Training we will be planning on scheduling classes in the Cincinnati area in 2020 for those who already have the basic pistol instructor certification.