I want to be a Firearms Instructor
So you've decided to elevate your love for firearms by taking the relationship to the next level and becoming an instructor? The first step is already done, the decision to go for it! So now what?
Female firearm trainers face unique challenges in this industry. In my experience, my credibility is constantly questioned, my knowledge constantly tested, my skills constantly put to the test. Maybe more so than with male trainers, but with any firearms trainer, this will be the foundation to your success- your credibility.
Credibility is more than an NRA Pistol Instructor Certification, it's the ability to actually teach the skills safely and correctly. Credibility comes from knowing and doing, a piece of paper will not knock steel down or clear a double feed, hands-on trigger time will. As a firearm instructor you cannot rely on your paper certifications, your military background, your POST training to just automatically give you credibility. In addition to hard work, credibility comes from not only performing a skill well, but also the ability to teach it. Hitting steel at 50 yards is a great trick, drawing from concealment and getting two rounds on target in under 2 seconds is a skill, but both of those things are meaningless as an instructor if you cannot articulate how to do it.
So before this turns into a cooking blog with paragraphs of reading to get to the good stuff, let's dive into what you need to become a firearms instructor (please note I am not getting any type of kick back for the following referrals, these are brands and companies that I use and have experience with):
1. Training - Training will be the foundation in which your success and credibility builds on. The paper certificates are fantastic for your resume, but as we have learned, firearm skills are perishable and if you're constantly teaching and not learning and practicing behind the trigger yourself, soon you'll only be an instructor, and no longer a shooter. Never stop being a student, never stop taking classes. Also the material learned in all these classes can help build your curriculum (It should go without saying that credit should always be given for the lessons, drills, and skills to the instructors you've learned from). Ask around for vetted, creditable instructors to take classes from locally to continue your training after you received your certifications. Remember to only train students within your wheelhouse of certification and training. For training resources please check out:
- First aid/CPR, Stop the Bleed Classes at a minimum
2. Gear - Safe and reliable gear will not only make your job easier, but increase safety for you and your students. There is a laundry list of gear, but what I would consider to get started:
- OWB kydex holster/ mag pouches
- ( use "mamabear" at checkout for 15% off at https://greymansolutions.net/ )
- A rigid belt
- I recommend and use a inner/outer belt combo check out
- Trauma kit/ belt medic bag
- If building your own, be sure it's trauma rated and not just first aid
- Extra eye and ear pro (electronic) for student use if needed
3. Training aids - These can include blue guns, sight aids, targets, videos, print material, check out:
- If you are NRA certified, check out the instructor store for blue guns and aids
- Give credit where credit is due for borrowed and inspired material, always
4. Public speaking classes - Sounds crazy, but being confident in yourself and your presentation will make a world of difference for you and your students. Look into online classes. Draft up your class outlines and practice at home. Try to anticipate student questions and practice your responses. Be calm and confident. If you don't know the answer, be honest, and reach out or direct students to someone who does. You will not lose credibility for not knowing (there's no way anyone can know everything), you will however for giving wrong information, or coming off unconfident and insecure.
5. Business plan - Sit down and map out your 1 year and 5 year plan, possible expenses, investment costs, target market, locations (classroom/range), goals, back up plans, networking opportunities, possible partnerships, marketing plan, admin plan (are you capable of running a website and doing bookkeeping?) .... all the not fun stuff that will make or break a business. This is a fun job, but it's still a job.
6. Insurance - Even if you are only planning on classroom classes, an insurance plan is an absolute must. Many businesses will require instructor insurance even for classroom classes, and every range will for range classes without question. There's lots of options available at a variety of costs, check out:
7. The right attitude - You will fail and you will be humbled. If you're doing things correctly you will never be the best person in the room. Students, social media, the industry, your friends, your family, at one point will all have you questioning yourself, your decisions, your capabilities. You need to want to succeed, be able to take the hits, the failures and the critiques and grow from them.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention the community of women trainers that I am a part of. Mama Bear Defense helps and mentors through all of the above, we are likeminded women who support each other and build each other up in our businesses. If you are interested in starting a Mama Bear Defense in your location send a brief paragraph with your experience to firstname.lastname@example.org we will schedule an interview and see if we are a good fit for each other.
What did I miss? Any fellow instructors out there have any other advice? let's hear it below. Until next time- train hard, stay safe.
Mama Bear Defense - Solano County, CA