Sunday, June 26, 2011

Not Yet An NRA Certified Law Enforcement Instructor For Handgun & Shotgun...

...but it should be a matter of time and nothing more until I receive my certification. I successfully completed the NRA Law Enforcement Handgun & Shotgun Instructor Development School, in Allentown, PA, yesterday. I am quite happy to say I shot 100% on both the pistol and shotgun qualification courses even though I thought it was a pretty easy course of fire. Still, all it would have taken to fail would have been 2 fliers on the pistol course and 1 on the shotgun course to flunk. (Heaven knows I am all too familiar with fliers.) That was what it took for several of my classmates who had to shoot over again on one course or the other or on both of them. By the way, me saying that I thought it was easy is not braggadocio; I really thought it was pretty easy. I am a pretty good shot and am very comfortable on the range. So, I do not usually get too stressed out over tests - especially firearms quals. Yes, I do feel a bit nervous each time I fire for qualification but I can control or channel it. Most, if not all of my classmates seemed to be pretty decent shots and were able to cope with the anxiety of having to qualify but some got a case of the jitters during the quals and did not shoot a qualifying score.

One of the nicest guys in the class did not pass the pistol qual and I am certain it was all due to being nervous about the test in his case. I am sure of it because I was his coach/student partner on the last day of class prior to his final chance at the qualification course on the same day. He was shooting dead on accurately and doing it reliably the whole morning. He had told me he was nervous about qualifying and I tried to convince him not to be but it seems that his nervousness got to him regardless of my attempt to help. He did not qualify on that his third and final attempt. I think, at least one other shooter did not pass the final attempt at the shotgun qualification. She had a difficult time with her gun; my guess was it may have been new and she was not quite as familiar with it as she could have been. That unfamiliarity, or maybe it was also simply nervousness or both, made her fumble with getting the first round in the chamber at the 25 yard line. The first sequence of fire was 2 slugs from the 25 in 15 seconds. She had plenty of time but because she had fumbled loading that first round, then brought up the gun really fast and yanked off a shot, it missed the paper altogether. The second shot was in there on the scoring silhouette but one miss was all it took. Alas I said, I think she did not qualify, but maybe the instructor did not catch it since some of the wad holes could have been confused for a slug hole. If she did fail the course, she and the pistol shooter both now have a chance to make it up with a qualification in the near future without having to repeat the whole class since they passed everything else.

As far as I know, all of the 28 other students passed the qualifications by their third attempt. Most passed the first time around but it was a bit of a surprise, to me, at how many did not. I say surprising because I would think if you were going to attend a firearms instructor school you would be a fairly good shot to begin with and that includes being able to get over the anxiety of the testing. This was, after all, a course about becoming an instructor so you could teach other people to shoot and was not a basic marksmanship course so that should have been pretty much mastered already. Even though a score of 90% or higher was necessary for a passing score, the part of the silhouette that gave you that score was pretty big. The target pictured, if not the same one, is pretty darned close to the ones we used, with the area inside the gray inner ring counting as perfect hits. If all your shots were inside that ring, it meant a perfect score, head shots included. Shots in the gray area outside the inner ring counted but you could only get a couple in there and still qualify. Although I will readily admit that I have had my off days at the range, as I said, it was not that difficult a course to shoot well especially since during the pistol course the furthest distance from which we shot was (if I remember right) 15 yards. We certainly did not shoot for pistol qual from the 25 yard line. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me at how many did not qualify the first time around and even more of a surprise that instructor candidates did not all do so by the third and final chance. Thankfully though, almost everyone passed by the last day of the course. Hopefully, those who did not qualify will soon be able to meet the qualification requirement and thus pass the course.

As far as the written test went, everyone passed it. I was pretty flummoxed by one of the questions because the choices given as possible answers (the test was T/F and multiple choice) seemed almost to simple or perfect or basic or whatever. I chose what I thought was the best of the given choices and moved on. When I thought about it some more, I went back and changed my answer to the choice that was more inclusive. I usually do not change my answers on M/C tests. When I finished the test, I went back and reviewed each answer that I had made and decided I would stay with the change. I am happy I stuck with it because when the tests were scored I got 100% correct on mine.

After the test was over and scored, the instructors handed out the completion certificates. Note, I did not say they handed out firearms instructor certifications. In order to get one of those, a successful instructor course student would have to apply for one from the NRA. To be eligible for the certification you have to be an NRA member or would have to join at the time you applied. If you did so within 30 days of the course completion, the certification would be free. If you waited until after 30 days, the certification would cost $30. Hmm, isn’t that the cost of a one year NRA membership? Better to apply right away and join up if not already an NRA member and just pay $30 instead of 2x$30. I was already a Life Member of the NRA, so my application for certification was handed in directly to one of the course instructors who should be forwarding it to NRA HQ. I am supposed to receive my certification within 2 weeks of course completion, I guess that means by about July 8th. In other words, even though I successfully completed the course, I am not yet a certified instructor but I should be one soon.

Next up for me, along the line of firearms instructor training, probably will be the regular NRA firearms instructor courses as follow: NRA Instructor Personal Protection In The Home Course, NRA Home Firearm Safety Instructor Course, NRA Instructor Pistol Shooting Course and the NRA Instructor Shotgun Shooting Course. I may also take the Refuse To Be A Victim Instructor course and the basic reloading course. These are all non-law enforcement courses. Yes, I am retiring at the end of this year if all goes as planned so I am hoping that becoming certified in some of these areas will give me a way to supplement my retirement pay, including the LE Instructor course I just completed. Who knows, I may find a job as a firearms instructor with a private company or with a LE department somewhere in my area or may be able to freelance.

So far, I have been to 2 NRA training courses, and was trained by NRA certified instructors during other courses in addition to similar courses I took with my agencies over the many years of my career. Both times I attended NRA courses, the instructors were: knowledgeable, open to suggestions, very professional and personable folks. The 4 instructors we had for the course I took this week were truly all gentlemen and all knew their stuff when it came to firearms instructing. I would be happy to be in a class with all or any of them again. In addition to the instructors, the course material was very good and to the point. There maybe was a little room for improvement as far as course content went but not much at all. These NRA courses have something else going for them besides good instructors and good content. As can be seen from what I mentioned above, just because you paid to attend the course does not mean you are going to pass it. It gives much more credibility to any certification gained when the course grade is not just a gimme based upon who paid the tuition. I have got to hand it to the NRA, they have got their act together pretty well when it comes to firearms training. I highly recommend NRA training for anyone wanting to become a certified firearms instructor.

All the best,
Glenn B