How Did Your Firearm Instructor Get Certified?


All around the country, millions of people who are interested in taking the next step of self-preservation are looking to concealed carry classes for that lifeline. The demand for concealed carry classes is booming. The increase in the number of concealed handgun permits last year set an all-time record, increasing membership by 1.73 million. That is slightly greater than the previous record of 1.69 million set in 2014.

In order to keep up with the immense and still growing demand of citizens looking to get their license, the number of those tasked with teaching concealed carry classes has increased, as well. But how do you know that your instructor has credentials strong enough to properly teach? Well, that's what we're here to let you know, today.



A lot of people become firearms instructors by taking a two-day class with the NRA; The NRA Basic Pistol Certification Course. During this course, a prospective concealed carry instructor will go through courses taught by an NRA-certified training counselor and will include both classroom training in areas such as concealed carry reciprocity, state firearms laws, and gun safety rules, as well as live fire exercises that will bring knowledge for pistol shooting stances, safety, and gun maintenance.

Now, most of your instructors are going to go above and beyond that initial few days of training. Some may have to due to states such as Tennessee, Utah, Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, and others which require that the instructor be certified by the state department. In doing this state certification the state department would provide some sort of training curriculum of their own that the instructor would need to attend. This can vary from a Saturday morning lecture like Utah provides to a multi-day training course with live fire in the state of Texas.

And even past that training, most instructors just plain love guns and love shooting so while the Basic Pistol Shooting course is a good jumping off point, you're more likely to find a trainer who has, on top of the basic course spent their own time and money to go to shooting ranges themselves as well as those who studiously look over their states rules, regulations, and laws concerning concealed carry and the best of the best are going to continue to take classes. Not just those that are for instructors, but concealed carry classes like the ones that they are teaching.

There is a lot to say about those instructors who have real world experience and straight-up talent behind the trigger, but there is an anecdote about Ben Affleck which applies here. Affleck was not seen as a very good actor in Hollywood when he was rising up the ranks. He was usually at the butt of jokes because of his flat performances. It didn't seem like he cared about movies that much. Then he decided to direct a film and people were once again laughing in his face, however, Affleck stuck to it and directed the critically and commercially successful “Gone Baby Gone”. When asked how he learned how to direct, Affleck responded that it was through his acting career and seeing other directors do things he would or wouldn't do helped him cultivate a style that was his own but filled with the knowledge of the greats that surrounded him.

The same can be said for the great instructors of our field.  Concealed Carry instructing is a field in which the humble and the knowledge hungry thrive. Those that live and breathe the lifestyle are the ones who will stick with it and over time become more and more prolific the more classes they teach and the more students that pass through.



Now, no matter how good or intensive the courses your instructor took to get where they are, there are certain things that are going to affect the teaching style of an instructor and those are the laws, and as you gun owners know, gun laws in this country vary from state to state and can vary in intensity immensely. These are going to affect the kind of classes that are taught and the certifications that an instructor will need to receive before teaching a class.

Depending on the individual state, the law most likely requires that in order for an instructor to be certified to teach a qualifying concealed carry class they have to be certified by a National Training Organization. A few states explicitly name the National Rifle Association but most allow that any National Firearm Training Organization certified instructor is good enough. Thus organization like our own Concealed Carry Inc. or USCCA who also certify instructors, would qualify.

So now you know that there are many variants between states and individual instructors about their verification routes. And while you can see that it may be a simple intensive for some, the best instructors take it upon themselves to grow as instructors by taking personal steps past the NRA Basic course, USCCA, or even our own intensive. The best instructors are going to be the ones who live and breathe the concealed carry lifestyle. Just like those that we hire for our own concealed carry instructor network, because while many can become a certified instructor, being a successful one takes dedication past the classroom.

About Craig Martin

Craig Martin grew up in the unincorporated town of Lewis, Wisconsin. From a young age, Craig was introduced to guns, as he was tasked with defending his backwood home’s wiring from a scourge of red squirrels.

Ever the animal lover, though; Craig couldn’t let these creatures die needlessly. So he would take his kills and leave them for the foxes, coyotes, and bears to eat at a deer feeder his grandfather built around their home.

His lifestyle made Craig understand that guns are a tool and ever since, has spread the word about how firearms are not a menace, like the red squirrel, but an item to help people. He instils this in every article he writes for USA Firearm Training.


  1. Rob Beckman on January 8, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Good review on how instructors get certified. As an instructor with with all the organizations mentioned I tell my instructor students and ccw students that I want to make sure they know how to handle themselves in a violent encounter properly. Because they may be standing behind me or my family at WalMart when it happen and that’s not the time I want to wish the person defending themselves knows how to properly draw from a holster, identify the target, and hit the target. Be responsible and be safe.

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