How to become an NRA Certified Instructor?

Raw Requirements:

To qualify as an NRA Instructor:

While there are NO specific prerequisites in order to become an NRA Certified Instructor, below is what the NRA requires the Training Counselors to look at when reviewing an application to become an instructor.

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 they wish to be certified.
Candidates will be required to demonstrate solid and safe firearms handling skills required to be successful during an instructor training course by completing pre-course questionnaires and qualification exercises administered by the NRA Appointed 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.

Basically, you have to be an experienced instructor, a long list of credentials or past training does not always mean that you are an experienced and safe instructor, just as no credentials does not mean that you do not have experience. The training counselor will review the NRA Questionnaire that you will fill out as part of your application/registration for the instructor course and then have a discussion with you. Then we will evaluate you at the live-fire pre-course assessment to assess whether or not we believe you have the skills and safety mindset/handling skills to take the course. Part of the pre-course assessment is also taking the Student Test (this is the test that is Given during the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course) You must receive a 90% on this test. There are 50 questions so you can only miss 5 questions, if you miss 6 you must retake the student test.
Once accepted into the course you are scored on your Teach Back’s that comprise the beginning part of the 2nd day. Candidates are given numerous sections in the lesson plans and assigned group #’s each group # coincides with certain parts of the lesson plans. (i.e. Semi-Auto Pistol Knowledge, might be one section you would be asked to teach in the NRA Pistol Instructor Course) You are also scored on your ability to teach a student on the range. This is normally done by having a candidate act like a new student and having another instructor coach that “student” through a few range exercises all while making adjustments to your student. The instructor candidate is then graded on his ability to pick up on the mistakes the student was making and making corrections.
The last piece that you are graded on consists of two parts.

90% Minimum score on the BIT Exam or Basic Instructor Training (NRA Policies & Procedures, Adult Learning Styles, Use of Trademark and Logo, LLC and Insurance Info.) This test is based on the first 6 hours of any instructor course and is not discipline-specific. If you have already taken the BIT within the last 2 years it is up to the TC on whether or not they will make you retake the BIT portion. Most instructor courses include this unless specifically noted that it is not. This is a 50 question test.
90% Minimum Score on the Discipline Specific Test. This is a 50 question test.

To learn more about our Instructor courses please visit our website email me directly at

Below is an editorial guest blog entry from one of our IDS Adjunct Instructors, Lynne Finch.

When I first broached the subject with my husband he wanted to know why? Why would I want to be an instructor? I thought about it, I knew it would make me a better shooter because I would enhance my own skills, and I thought it might be nice to make a little something on the side teaching an occasional class. Well, that was more than a year ago, I’ve probably taught over 100 classes since then and have earned instructor certifications in Pistol, Personal Protection in the Home, Refuse to be a Victim, Home Firearms Safety as well as a non-NRA certification to teach Pepper Spray. Do I love it? YES! Have my skills improved? Exponentially! I have learned to do everything with either hand so I can work with different students. I need to be able to demonstrate proficiency on demand and I have practiced and studied and learned more than I would have thought possible in order to be able to answer questions and demonstrate confidence in front of a class. I’ve learned a lot about adult learning styles and how to calm a nervous student, settle an over-excited one, or even handle an over-confident student who thinks they know it all already.

What do you need to become an instructor? First, you need a passion for shooting and sharing that skill. We don’t get rich teaching classes, it helps to have a drive. Secondly, contact your local Training Counselor (the person who is certified to teach the instructors), for me, it was Evan Carson at Innovative Defensive Solutions, LLC, and talk to him or her. We talked, met to shoot and I learned more from him in 10 minutes than I had in the preceding several years. I was hooked. I wanted to be able to help someone else in that same way.

I registered for the Pistol Instructor Course, which is two days, preceded by a demonstration of competency which required shooting at 50 feet as well as handling different types of firearms. Even if you want to teach other classes, I encourage you to start with the Pistol Course. The first day is Basic Instructor Training or BIT. It covers a lot about how to teach, how to set up a class, what the NRA requirements are, planning your budget, etc. This is basic but important information. Day two is more fun, you present lessons in front of your classmates who provide feedback on what you covered. The second have of the class involves role-playing, practicing working with a student on a simulated range. This can be challenging, as the “student” is told not to do everything right, they act very much like the students you would see in real life. It can be funny, but it is also enlightening. Sometimes we take shooting for granted and forget there was a time when we didn’t know what “muzzling” was, or how to load a magazine.

Completing the course doesn’t automatically mean that you become an instructor. There are minimum scores on two written exams (they are open book, so it isn’t that tough), and your skills in the class, and at the qualification live fire, are evaluated. Not everyone is certified the first time. However, all are offered the opportunity to return and participate again, at no additional cost, to continue to develop their skills until they are ready for their certification.

Becoming an instructor is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’ve helped students take their very first shots and walk away with huge grins knowing they couldn’t wait to come back and shoot some more. I’ve learned as much from my students as they have from me. And, it has helped me in my daytime professional life. I’m a more confident speaker, able to stand and speak to large or small groups as needed. I’m not thrown by questions, I’ve had a lot of practice answering tough questions and thinking on my feet, and yes, admitting I didn’t have an answer but would be happy to research it.

It is rewarding, it is fun and there is nothing else in the world like seeing the Ah-Ha moment when something clicks and you know that you helped that to happen.

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