One thing almost everyone seems to agree on is that new shooters need to get training and that even an experienced shooter can benefit from even more training. Training is one of those things you rarely get enough of.
Unfortunately, training varies in quality. For every elite training school out there, you get a few dozen Voda Consulting‘s floating around. So how can you tell who is worth a your time and who isn’t?
Over at Soldier Systems Daily, they posted something that’s been on my mind for a while, and that’s the need for a professional organization for tactical trainers.
Over the weekend, I shared a press release announcing the formation of the Firearms Trainers Association. The comments on that post here on SSD were as much questions about the program as complaints about its creation. However, on Facebook I saw a great deal of pushback.
Much of it was based on the personalities involved. Some, because the program hasn’t been fully disclosed. There were lots of concerns over the cost of the program as well as the idea that it was mandatory. I saw several people worried about the scope, pointing out that tactical firearms training is different than other types. Still others felt that it wasn’t needed, preferring the current situation. Then, there were those who opposed it, simply because it is.
Regardless of the organization, this is a good concept. Almost a decade ago, I sat down with Grey Group and suggested the creation of a trainer’s organization, offering certification and standardization. At the time, I mentioned that the training industry would soon grow drastically and along with that would come an increase in questionable training. It did, and then some.
Honestly, this is a good thing.
People are always trying to figure out how to find out if an instructor is any good. Well, a professional organization will help to keep the industry in check. It won’t solve everything, but if handled properly, it will mitigate some of the worst practices, the kinds of things that lead to outfits like Voda getting away with poor training for so long.
Let’s be honest here. It may not make every instructor a great teacher. However, what it can do is help make sure the information passed along is quality information.
Further, as SSD notes, a voluntary governing body can also help weed out some of the worst kinds of scum:
A professional organization could vet, or verify, the backgrounds of instructors, preventing ‘stolen valor’ incidents and other false claims. It could also serve as a clearing house for student feedback of instructors. This could be used for customer advocacy as well as mentorship of instructors.
Likewise, the organization could vet students on behalf of the instructors, helping to prevent a trainer from inadvertently training a prohibited person.
Perhaps, a whole slew of compliance services, like ITAR support could be available as well.
In my opinion, this is a win. We in the firearms community need something like this. Again, this is just my opinion.
“Oh, but what about the NRA certified instructors?” someone might ask.
From what I’ve seen, most of the courses that the NRA offers are more introductory courses that are designed to teach a new person how not to shoot themselves in the foot (among other things). That’s a good thing, to be sure, but it’s not a tactical course.
Yes, the NRA offers courses on personal defense inside the home and outside the home. These are tactical classes, to be sure.
However, let’s also understand something; the NRA will certify almost anyone who passes the instructor courses, barring warning signs that someone is a problem in the making. From then on, so long as they do as required, they can still bill themselves as NRA certified instructors. The only time the NRA tends to get involved in what you teach is if you’re teaching one of their classes. It doesn’t stop you from teaching complete and total bull the rest of the time, so long as you operate under the radar.
To bring up Voda Consulting again, Lucien Black was a certified NRA instructor before it was stripped due to his nonsense.
Now, let me be clear. I’m not saying anything negative about the NRA or their instructor certification. The problem I see is people who play by the rules to get their certification, but then use that to “prove” they know what they’re talking about. Then they ignore everything they were taught by the NRA and do their own thing.
You can’t put that on the NRA or its training, but it’s something that I’ve seen happen. As in the case of Lucien Black, they will strip it from someone being stupid. This is a good thing. However, how many people like him are running around simply because we don’t know about them yet to tell the NRA?
Yet let’s also be clear, there are people who have a different opinion on things from the official NRA way. They want to train students in different techniques. Maybe they want to focus on something that’s not given much attention in the NRA courses such as dealing with active shooters or vehicular scenarios. Who knows?
The NRA doesn’t currently have classes on these topics, and let’s be honest here. I’d rather they focus more on preserving our rights than developing curriculums that others outside the organization are more than capable of doing.
Enter the professional trainer’s organization. Let it do that. Let it approve of disapprove curriculums. Let it come up with how trainers should be taught so they an instruct others.
Besides, the last thing we need is just one entity deciding how everything should go. If we do that, we may well find ourselves lacking innovation, and that could turn out to be fatal for someone.
That’s why I sincerely hope this idea takes off. We need something like this.