NRAAM= NRA Annual Meeting. Yep. I had the chance to go to Dallas and participate in the NRA Annual Meeting and the first NRA CCW Instructor Certification course. Read below for my commentary.

Thoughts on the NRA CCW Instructor course

First. Thanks to the training Team of Brett, Nathan, Diane, and Dr. Logar for putting on a good, solid course. I came into this hoping it would be a better experience than the Practical Pistol Coach one and was pleasantly surprised. Whenever I go to training, I always keep an open and neutral mind since I want to give everything I encounter a chance. Thank you for making the day a good experience. I picked up a couple new tips and tricks and also came away with a better feeling of the direction we’re taking.

It was understandable as to the idea of hand picking initial candidates. If you are able to share, what was the criteria as to the selection? I feel some were lost. (Possibly those that snuck in?) Some there definitely did not have an idea of the process.

I can see the idea for the course was directed towards giving the NRA instructor the tools to formally teach CCW, since they are nearly all doing it anyway.

Overall outline
Good layout. I like the modular approach. That gives the instructor a measure of freedom to use what is needed for their own state. BUT some drawbacks can pop up: Will NRA instructors do short courses for convenience and check off on all topics? Maybe we need to have a way to monitor the initial certified group? Looking forward to new material to work the process and train others. Each module seems to fit the purpose. No extra info to overteach

Hearing that some of the TC’s present thought this course was too basic, I feel they may be forgetting the market focus. If this is going to augment BOPS, or even allow a student to do this course in lieu of BOPS, then I see the method to the idea. If the main focus is searching for NRA CCW courses, then this course will fulfill that need. The problem with any program is the quality control.

Overall experience
It was easy to tell early on that there were some people there that do not teach CCW a lot of full time. With some, their presentation skills were off. Some seemed as if they don’t present courses too much. If they all were TC’s, then this format and the ability to present should be second nature. Quite a few rookie teaching and presenting errors. Quite a few were using books, lots of filler words, mannerisms and an overall air of inexperience. I understand that some of this material might be new to some, but on the other hand, it shouldn’t be new.

Personally, when teaching or certifying people, I look for the skills to start becoming ‘intuitive’ rather than forced. Most people will use a lot of thinking power to work the skill when they are new to it. After proper practice, they will do it nearly automatically, thus giving the brain more power to think of other skills rather than the basics operational tasks. For most, the basic skills of drawing, reloading, malfunction clearing, and the rest were using up most of their computing power.

Good emphasis on safety. I spent a great deal of time watching whomever I could and only saw a couple minor issues that got fixed fairly quickly.

The qualification was good. I’d like to see the original par times out of curiosity as they were modified after their original adoption. The par times used were generous from my perspective but I could see where a few were consistently running over the set times. There’s a bit of work they all need to do.

The skills in the qualification were a good overall test of ability. There are only so many ‘standards’ that are industry wide. Draw to first shot, shoot, reload, shoot, malfunction clear, multiple shots, etc. Glock has 5, Sig runs with 6, and a few other schools I have been to all use pretty much the same basic standard as a baseline test of skills.

Although I was not there to pick people to train others in this format, I did see a few that need to do a good deal of personal training for themselves, before running out and teaching something this critical. Having a basic understanding of the CCW skills and info is not enough (in my humble opinion)

I see where it fits in and I can understand the level of placement into the curriculum. It’s not a basic level course pre-se, but it is not an advanced course either. In listening to a couple others, it was obvious that some felt it was (or should have been) an advanced course or rating and they had used words like ‘underwhelmed’ and they just seemed as if they were wasting their time. I disagreed with them. I knew early on where this would fit and I already had ideas on how to add and implement the course – and to whom I would market this to!

Granted, we want to be able to teach other Pistol rated instructors how to present this material, but I have found that most of the pistol rated people out there have not trained in this genre for themselves in the first place. I agree completely with the ‘attend the student course prior to the instructor course’ policy and wholeheartedly endorse it. I wonder, in some cases, will it be enough? We will run across candidates that will barely meet the minimum criteria to pass. In this skill set, just barely passing is not good enough. They should pass with flying colors in order to go out and teach students in a life saving skill and informational course.

Other thoughts:
If there are going to be standards that an instructor candidate has to meet, then they should be used. I understand that I was part of the process this weekend but after the criteria was explained, I was intrigued. During the qualification, according to the criteria, there were a few that did not make the time cutoff nor scan. I am not sure about the targets and the accuracy because I only saw the few clustered around me.

We should not be against failing or DQ-ing someone due to accuracy, safety, skill expectation, time criteria, or otherwise. Once you start to have a real possibility of being eliminated, a few things happen. #1: most true trainers will step up and produce as per the criteria. #2: you will weed out those that are not developed or ready to teach a life saving skill. #3. You’ll make the rating something to achieve, not obtain by doing the minimum.  Once candidates hear that 25, 30, or 40% fail, then they will work harder to obtain the rating. That hard work will produce a better instructor and program down the road. Thus, we will continue to raise the bar.

I am not saying that this CCW Instructor rating become an elite type rating, but I’d like to see those who obtain it as TC’s, and those who obtain it as instructors, are competent and effective in their training and skills. I would not be comfortable in having someone obtain this rating if they do not have a CCW or defensive training background themselves. Credibility wise, it would be hard to learn from someone who only obtains this CCW rating based on attending one class as a student and then passing the instructor course. They won’t have a depth of experience to draw from, and they won’t be as effective when they get pressed or tested by the tough or hard to train student.

To improve the next course:
I would do another few certification courses where the attendees are ‘hand picked’ from a list that you share. This way you will obtain a better sampling of who is out there, what they’re doing, and what kind of TC/instructor will come out on the other side. If you look to certify the cream of the crop now, the program will maintain the integrity needed as it expands.

What else I liked about the course:
I liked how the goal was not to reinvent a process. The curriculum already existed and the NRA CCW was just assembled from the pertinent modules of the other currently existing courses. The idea of customization for each individual state is good. Having a qualification as a standard is even better. Having only a couple choices for a qual is the way to go. Another organization opens the door for the instructor to make up whatever they want or use a state qual but that just begs for disaster.

In short, I am excited about the idea. This will be a good augment to someone’s credential and experience, and it will give the instructor the ability to do a little bit more. Most people taking the BOPS course are looking towards CCW so why not get them there?

I am available to assist in training or certifying the next wave. Since this is the world I live in and teach, it is a natural course of action for me. Please feel free to let me know what I can do to begin creating quality NRA CCW Instructors!

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