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Bulletproof Friday: Self-Licking Ice Cream Cones and Instructor Vetting

As I go about my business in the small rural community where I live, I am sometimes asked what I do. When I reply that I am a professional firearms instructor the typical response is, “Oh my brother / sister / uncle / cousin / wife / neighbor’s dog is a CCW instructor. Do you teach CCW?”

The majority of the gun-toting public in my state is blissfully unaware of the level of training it takes to become a CCW instructor, the bar is pretty low. In fact, the most well-known training facility in this state will take an absolute beginner and, if they pass their five day Instructor Course, make them instructors at their world renowned facility. Do you want someone with five days of experience teaching you? This is an especially bad choice when it comes to the life and death decisions related to CCW.

Finding a good firearms instructor shouldn’t be hard, but you do have to do some research. Many of the established instructors in my area are legit, but there are some red flags. One popular training company out here has owners who have posted certifications from training companies they owned. A classic self-licking ice cream cone. Would you trust a self-certified surgeon?

Your instructors should at a minimum have a national level certification such as the NRA, USCCA, or Second Amendment Foundation. Ideally they would also have a state or local certification. For example; we are certified by the state Department of Wildlife for Advanced Hunter Education and all CCW instructors in the state have to have an endorsement from their county sheriff.

“But wait. My instructor was an Army-SEAL-Sniper-Delta-MARSOC-Ranger who did twelve years in Afghanistan running special Green Leaf ops.”

Good for him, does he Crossfit too?

I specifically left out military and law enforcement experience for a reason. Even though this type of experience is the gold standard in the industry, not everyone who put on a uniform is the next Jeff Cooper, Clint Smith, or Massad Ayoob. Few uniformed members ever really work with firearms, much less have the responsibility to instruct others on them. It’s not much of a stretch to say your typical postman or mall security guard has just as much experience. There are plenty of excellent instructors or trainers who do not have military / LE experience. Most come from the competition side like Jerry Miculek and Taran Butler. It doesn’t matter t