The Race to the Bottom – What is Value in a Concealed Carry Instructor?

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Competition for Students

There is a lot of competition for instructors to attract students in the concealed carry instruction business. Instructors are increasingly trying to compete for students. There are good instructors; and there are not so good instructors. It is becoming ever increasingly difficult for students to determine the difference between the two. This market saturation has made it necessary for instructors to address their own ranks and make commentary on the traits an instructor should have, while being professional enough to not call out specific individuals by name.

While value is determined by the the goods (class content, presentation and skills of the instructor) and the price you pay for them… a lower price does not always mean good value. Many times it actually means the opposite. In other words, you don’t always get what you pay for.

The Race to the Bottom

There is a Race to the Bottom of the Concealed Carry Industry going on… low prices are focused on quantity of students over quality of instruction. It is not doing the industry any good, and students are suffering. Instructors who focus on quantity rarely go past the bare minimums, and often teach classes which might not even meet the time and content requirements mandated by the laws in each state.

Full disclosure, I am a concealed carry firearms instructor, and while I would love to use this as an article to gain new students, my intention here is to provide guidance to potential students to allow them to choose the best instructor in their state/area, who will provide them with the best education possible for their specific needs.  This article should be read as a quick reference to determine if the instructor you are considering will give you the best value for your hard earned time and money.

How does a student know they are getting what they are paying for?

In my region of the country… we have many concealed carry instructors. They are certified by the NRA, the USCCA and the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training (KY DOCJT). Some have military or law enforcement backgrounds. Some are civilians.

Quite frankly, I have not seen where the background of the instructor (Military, police or civilian) has contributed to the quality, content or superiority of a concealed carry specific class. This should be qualified though as pertaining to concealed carry classes alone. In the case of “tactical” oriented classes, military and police have a slight edge to civilian instructors. Though, if an instructor has invested their own time and money in quality training and practice in these fields, it shows the civilian instructor may be motivated enough to catch up.

How does a student determine which instructor is right for them?

How does a student determine if the instructor has knowledge and skills to teach, as well as the personal demeanor to make them feel comfortable in class?

Here are the things I suggest students look for in a concealed carry instructor.

  • Credentials – Ultimately, the laws surrounding concealed carry instruction require instructors to be certified to teach. Start with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) instructors. That is the base minimum. Some states require their own certifications to teach a license/permit class. Check your states instructor requirements before selecting an instructor. Ensure that instructor has the proper credentials.
  • Insurance – Ask your instructor if they carry some sort of liability insurance for their business. If they do not, they are not taking their craft seriously. This also shows a disrespect for doing the right thing to maintain a safe class. Therefore, you should run the other way.
  • Continuing Education – When was the last time your instructor took a class themselves? What was the last book they have read on the topic? It is important that an instructor is a life long learner. If they have not invested in staying on top of their craft, you can not expect them to deliver information that is up to date and relevant. Check their website and social media. Make sure they publish the steps they are taking to continue their own education. If they are not doing this, it is a good sign they aren’t taking their trade seriously and you should seek out another instructor.
  • Sharing Quality Content – What information do they share freely? The best instructors do not hoard information. They share it openly. Concealed Carry Instructors do not need to hide some secret ninja magic to convince you to take their class. Most states mandate you take a class. Concealed Carry is not rocket surgery. Most concealed carry classes are basic gun safety classes… Mixed with some legal information… and some information around how to conceal and then deploy your firearm effectively. These are not master classes in anti-terrorism and “John Wick”-style shooting. Look for the instructor who has lots of info readily out there for you to absorb before and after your class. This will indicate the instructor has a great deal of quality information to share. It is a good guess if they share quality content, their class will be even better.
  • Experiences of Others – If the instructor does a great job, it should show. They should have published excerpts from students responses to their class. They should have Facebook reviews on their pages telling you whether their experience was a good one or a bad one.

This is Personal

When it comes down to it, making the decision to carry a firearm in self defense is a very personal decision. You have your own reasons to want to do it. You should not take this decision lightly, and you should be able to choose your instructor accordingly. Take a few minutes and send an email to your potential instructor. Ask about some of the qualities mentioned above. After all, you want to ensure you are properly educated and prepared should you ever need to use a concealed handgun as a life saving tool.

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