Choosing Your Firearms Instructor(s)

Share this story

Vlad Vaval, Chief Instructor at Gun for Hire, conducting a firearms course.
Vlad Vaval, Chief Instructor at Gun for Hire, conducting a firearms course.

So, you intend to get your New Jersey carry permit or maybe you already have it and since you follow the content on News2A, you understand the importance of training with your firearm. You’ve done some preparation, found a good shooting range, and practiced enough to successfully pass the NJ carry qualification. Also though, since you follow News2A, you know that when it comes to firearms proficiency, you’ve only accomplished the bare minimum regarding firearms training.

Now it’s time to think about the training you will need to acquire in order to be safe and gain the skillsets needed so that you may survive a violent deadly force encounter with your firearm. You will need someone, or a team of trainers that can do that. There are many things to look for when choosing the right instructor.

First, without having to register and commit to a training course with an instructor, you should check their Bio. A good instructor has no problem letting everyone know their background. Let’s face it, if the Bio is very short and vague, possibly simply showing that they were at one time in the military or in law enforcement, well then, not much more to say. Great Instructors will proudly detail their experience and how it relates to firearms, as well as stating classes they’ve experienced and other instructors they’ve trained with and learned from. They may even mention areas of expertise, and it should relate to what you intend to learn. Be careful not to just pick out someone who may have just recently received an instructor certificate from an organization. Instructor certificates are given out after certain curriculums are met, sometimes it’s a 2-day class, 4-day class, even a course that may have taken a week. No matter the curriculum, just like most things, you don’t get really good without consistent practice. Experience absolutely shows in the way instructors work at delivering a lesson.

A great instructor will have a well-thought-out plan and should have an organized structure to the delivery of the course session. It’s important that instructors have the ability to communicate well, not using gun, military or cop lingo that students may not understand. Clear and simple communication goes a long way, especially when the topic is firearms. Range and firearms safety and procedures and how they are enforced should be clearly communicated. Instructors should make the students feel at ease but aware prior to start of live fire training, keeping things clear and concise so to avoid confusion. Questions and concerns should be addressed, I’ve always made it a point to tell my students that if they are not sure, “don’t shoot!”, probably a real good rule of thumb in regards to firearms, there should be no problem clarifying or repeating what needs to be accomplished.

A great instructor will address medical or health concerns and assure the student’s capabilities, as well as plan for possible emergencies. Instructors will brief students on the course they are about to experience and let them know what’s expected of them depending on class level. A great instructor knows that it’s not about what they can do but what they can get the students to do. Instructors should also relay that there isn’t just one way, it doesn’t always have to be their way. For the most part, I always let students know that there is never just one way, if what they do is safe, efficient and accurate then more than likely it will work, but I try and urge them to keep an open mind because there may be something within the lesson that makes things a little bit better, it may even show more in future settings or scenarios.

During live-fire training, the instructor should have the ability to explain a technique and demonstrate it. This allows the student to hear it verbally, as well as see it, then they will try to perform it correctly. Instructors should be fully knowledgeable on the subject matter and capable of diagnosing issues. A great instructor will watch the shooters not the targets, observing the mechanics and fixing things if needed, later recognizing the proper feedback from the target. Instructors should stress the importance of proper repetitive practice and assure that students are not performing bad reps therefore developing bad habits.

There are so many qualities a great instructor should have; this only touches on some of the most notable. There are things that students may not be aware of that instructors should be on top of, such as the ability to generate an effective lesson plan, check range ballistic safety, correct use and setting up targets, indoor/outdoor environmental concerns, etc. When it comes to safe range instruction, there are many variables and concerns to address, a great instructor will be well-versed on the entire operation.

When starting to put “thoughts to paper”, I didn’t realize just how much can be said of great instructors, there is so much more. I hope that this helps with your training journey. That brings up something further. A great instructor should be someone that you keep for this journey, someone who can teach you at many levels and watches you improve. It’s so much more beneficial when it’s not just a “one and done!” type of class. The instructor also, can do so much more when they’ve developed a training relationship with their students and are familiar with the students’ capabilities. Together you’ll set great standards and meet all your goals. Make the right choices, this is an investment in your safety and protection.

See you on the range!

Share this story

Notify of
Inline Feedback
View all comments

News2A on
Gun for Hire Radio!

News2A’s co-founders were proud to be the guests on episode #661 of Gun for Hire Radio. Please listen in and get to know us!

Tell us what you think!x