how to become nra instructor

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

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Since 1871, a major objective of the National Rifle Association has been to provide education and training in the safe and proper use of firearms. Knowing how to shoot is an important requirement for NRA instructors, but you will also need to know how to teach others to shoot. NRA Instructor Training Courses help you develop the additional knowledge, skills and techniques needed to organize and teach courses in the NRA Basic Firearm Training Program.


·  Candidates must have completed the basic course in the discipline they wish to be certified to teach, e.g. NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting (Instructor Led Only), NRA Basic Rifle Shooting, etc.

·  Candidates must possess and demonstrate a solid background in firearm safety and shooting skills acquired through previous firearm training and/or previous shooting experience. Instructor candidates must be intimately familiar with each action type in the discipline for which they wish to be certified.

·  Candidates will be required to demonstrate solid and safe firearm handling skills required to be successful during an instructor training course by completing pre-course questionnaires and qualification exercises administered by the NRA Certified Training Counselor.

·  Candidates must satisfactorily complete an NRA Instructor Training Course in the discipline they wish to teach (e.g., NRA Basic Pistol Course), and receive the endorsement of the NRA Training Counselor conducting that training.

NRA Instructor courses are discipline specific. During the course candidates will learn NRA policies and procedures; basic public speaking skills; training methodology; use of a training team and training aids; organizing a course, building a budget; and finally preparing to teach. In addition, candidates will be provided the appropriate lesson plans and basic course student packets. Role-playing is a major part of an instructor course; therefore, the minimum class size should be at least four candidates, with 10-12 candidates being ideal. Candidates take turns working in teams, actually conducting portions of the course to other candidates who portray basic students.

Instructor training courses are conducted by NRA Training Counselors. Training Counselors are active and experienced instructors who have been certified by NRA to train experienced shooters to teach others to shoot. Training Counselors will evaluate candidates’ performance based on their ability to handle the firearms with confidence, use of appropriate training aids, following the lesson plans and meeting all learning objectives, while utilizing the teaching philosophies expected of NRA Certified Instructors. Candidates can also expect to learn the NRA discipline specific instructional methods and evaluating and improving the performance of beginning shooters.

Course Cost: $350, including all class materials, targets, certificate upon completion, lunch. and beverages.

Register For An Upcoming Class Now (Check Calendar for Additional Future Dates) After registration, you may pay with credit card or PayPal. NRA requires that a minimum of four students be registered for each class. If the minimum is not made, we will refund your fee in full and offer an alternative class date.
This is a Two-Day 16-hour Course that includes Basic Instructor Training (BIT) on day one and discipline-specific training on day two.

Students must be at least 21 years of age to register for this course.

How to Become a Certified Firearms Instructor

U.S. News reports that firearms sales have soared since the Coronavirus took hold in the U.S. and that the overwhelming majority of these buyers are first-time gun owners. In fact, according to the FBI, firearm background checks through June of 2020 amount to more than two-thirds of those initiated in 2019. Since many of these people will want to learn how to properly store and use their new weapons, the demand for firearms instructor jobs is likely also to increase.

According to Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, most accidental shooting deaths occur inside the home; safe storage can prevent more than 30 percent of accidental deaths. Firearm safety instructors teach gun owners not only how to shoot, but also teach gun safety rules, how to choose the best firearms and ammunition for their individual needs, how to inspect and maintain a gun, as well as shooting range safety. Courses are specific to a particular firearm type (pistol, rifle, shotgun), and more advanced courses are offered for those who want to learn more or improve their skills.

Firearms Instructor Jobs

As a certified firearms instructor, you can teach classes on the side, or you may use what you learn in a full-time career. Once you have your firearm instructor certification, you will be qualified for a number of jobs. You can start your own firearms instruction business, work for one that is already established, work for or run a shooting range or, with more advanced training, even train law enforcement officers.

Firearms Instructors Qualifications

Firearms course instructors need to be upstanding citizens who have not been convicted of a felony nor dishonorably discharged by any of the United States Armed Forces. They must provide evidence of successful completion of an approved firearms instructor course and meet other state requirements before they can apply for a license to become an instructor in that state. Since gun laws vary by state, instructor requirements may differ. Some states offer their own law enforcement certification programs.

Before taking a firearms instructor course, you must meet the requirements in your state to legally possess a gun, have a valid gun permit and have successfully completed prior courses in gun safety and use. After completing a firearms instructor course, candidates submit their certification from an approved training program to apply for state certification.

In some states, such as Pennsylvania, fingerprinting also is required. There may be additional costs to apply for state certification, and re-certification also varies by state. While Massachusetts certification is good for 10 years, California’s is good for five, and Florida’s is good for three. While the National Rifle Association (NRA) is the largest and best known organization, there are other training options, such as the National Association of Certified Firearms Instructors, which offers courses in Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Utah, and Kansas and, in some states, through the state police.

NRA Firearms Instructor Course

The NRA website states that a major objective of the organization is “to provide education and training in the safe and proper use of firearms.” The organization offers a number of firearms courses throughout the country; more than 1 million gun owners learn from over 125,000 instructors each year. Sixteen of these courses teach instructors.

The NRA requires prospective instructors to first complete a basic course in the specific discipline (home safety, pistol, rifle, shotgun) they wish to teach and to demonstrate that they possess a strong knowledge of and a solid background in safety and shooting skills. They then must take a training course and receive their Training Counselor’s endorsement before receiving their NRA certification. NRA Training Counselors are certified to be experienced instructors capable of teaching experienced shooters to teach others how to shoot.

NRA Certified Firearm Instructors are tested on how well they follow lesson plans, their ability to confidently handle firearms, and their ability to effectively use training aids, all within the framework of NRA teaching philosophies. They also learn specific instructional methods and how to evaluate and help improve the skills of beginning shooters.

The NRA also offers Personal Protection Instructor courses; candidates must already be certified at lower levels to take these courses. This course also include a section on applicable laws. This may be taught by an attorney who specializes in this area of law or a law enforcement officer or other instructor certified by the state in which the course is held.

What to Expect from a Course

Instructor candidates need more than shooting skills. The ability to teach others is essential for success. A NRA Firearms Instructor Course covers basic teaching skills: public speaking skills, methodology, how to budget, how to organize a course, how to utilize a training team and how to use training aids.

The length of NRA Firearms Instructor Courses vary depending on the course, but can take from 11 to 22 hours to complete and may run over several days. However, individuals must have first successfully completed a basic course on the specific discipline they intend to teach. These prerequisites range in duration from a few hours to several days.

What Are the Costs?

Course fees are set by instructors and schools so they vary by area and sometimes from instructor to instructor. Basic safety courses can be as low as $100 and specialized training courses can cost more than $500. Those wanting to make a career out of firearms instruction should plan to take multiple courses.

Training materials, such as students’ manuals, are available through the NRA website, and may only be purchased by certified instructors. Instructors should also expect to purchase firearms instructor insurance to protect against injuries, property damage and offer general liability. Lockton Affinity Outdoor, an NRA-endorsed insurance company, has policies ranging from $150 to $300 a year. Other costs include licensing and location rental fees as well as cost of incidentals such as printing student completion certificates.

Law Enforcement Receive Special Training

The NRA Firearms Instructor Course qualifies individuals to teach most gun owners, but the unique challenges of law enforcement (including federal agencies) demands more. The Firearms Instructor Training Program, run by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (a part of the Department of Homeland Security) is a 10-day program for new firearms instructors to enable them to serve as law enforcement firearms instructors. These courses are limited to full-time law enforcement officers and military with arrest authority. Unlike other firearms instructor jobs, requirements for these positions also require good physical condition and a health screening as well as a handgun skills assessment.

The National Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor Association (NLEFIA), founded in 2015, also provides advanced firearms instructor education and training, and also offers networking and information sharing among members. Created for law enforcement firearms instructors, it is also open to military firearms instructors.

Current firearm instructor certification is required to join; NLEFIA does not offer initial firearms instructor certification courses. Their three-day/24-hour courses go more in depth than basic courses and cost $525. The organization also offers continuing education courses that may be required for instructors to keep their certification current. These courses range from 8 to 24 hours and cost $175 per 8-hour day for members (membership is required to take a course)

How Much Can You Make?

Salary varies by region and experience, but firearms instructors can expect to make about $11 to $54 an hour at a range, and $76,000 to $112,000 a year as a law enforcement firearms instructor. Army firearms instructors earn from $64,000 to $83,000 annually.

Range masters are responsible to ensuring safety at a shooting range, for employees and patrons alike. Effectiveness in this position reduces liability, making a shooting range more attractive and profitable. Salaries vary by region. The Economic Research Institute estimates the national average to be $98,863.

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