A Higher Education
I was recently asked if I will do instructor certification classes and why I don’t; here’s my take and considerations for those interested in becoming an “instructor”.
The What Of It
What are you are instructing? If your goal is to teach gun safety and basic firearm marksmanship then that’s a pretty narrow lane requiring a limited time investment. However, if you want to provide personal defense training, that’s a broader area of expertise requiring depth and breadth of knowledge and skill in a number of subject. This requires a significant time investment. Being into guns and being able to shoot is great but have you invested the time and effort required to build that kind of knowledge and skill base?
Doctors go to school for seven to eight years prior to practicing and usually more prior to teaching. College professors, six plus at the best institutions. In the gun and personal protection industry you can go to a two day certification and become an “instructor”. Some people attend one class, let me repeat that, one class and then convince themselves and sometimes others that they should start teaching.
In what other industry where life and death depend on the skills you’ve been taught can you get instructor credentials in one weekend?
Is teaching shooting and self defense that easy? What about what happens before guns come out, the law, body alarm reaction, anatomy, physiology, communication, post-shooting, empty hand solutions, grounded problems, tactics?
Teachers, Coaches and “The Instructor”
What about the ability to actually teach AND coach? Does having the ability to convey accurate information in an efficient manner to different learning types matter? Do things like command presence, how to monitor and manage safety on a range or on a mat matter? What about the ability to coach others to correct mindset and mechanical errors or, better still, enable them to coach and improve themselves. Is that something learned in a weekend or in one class? No.
As gun owners and especially those who are instructors we have a duty, a duty to be more educated.
The more knowledgeable and professional we are with firearms the better we will be at providing accurate info and skills to people who may really have to defend their lives with those skills and knowledge. I probably don’t need to point this out but gun ownership in America isn’t getting any easier, in fact, its being infringed upon every day. The better we represent this industry the more seriously we will be taken as a whole.
Consider this; someone may use what you teach them to protect themselves, good or bad, win or lose.
Is your level of expertise up to that after a weekend certification and a year of part time training? Oh, wait, a couple years of classes means you are good to go. No.
A Higher Education
The kind of education I’m talking about requires a significant financial, physical and time investment, it’s not a one and done endeavor. It requires an understanding of the history, skills, tactics, the how, what, where, why and when encompassing firearms and other personal protection disciplines. There’s more to it than just owning a few guns and being able to shoot. There’s more to it than just guns if you are truly concerned with personal defense.
If you’re in a hurry to get out there and show everyone what you know, maybe you don’t know as much as you think.
Hold yourself to a higher education standard and put the time in, go for that Masters Degree or PHD. Dedicate six to ten years of dedicated training, practice and education in. Then put a couple more years of study into how to teach others and how to coach before instructing. Better yet, consider apprenticing with an established instructor for five plus years (I did a 10 year apprenticeship with SouthNarc before he gave me an instructor cert). Like in academia you will be held to a 10-year-to-credible-opinion standard by other instructors who have put the time in.
An instructors FIRST job is to continually improve & educate themselves and that job never ends.
Consider your motivation. Do you care about people, their skills, safety and well being or do you care about their money or your social media status? Is it your ego that needs you to be an instructor? WHY do you want to teach? It’s an important question and one that should be considered, it will be considered by others. Hold yourself to a higher education standard because what you teach may mean life or death.
We live in the digital download era where we can download an entire book, encyclopedia or dictionary to a handheld device. We as humans aren’t the handheld devices and computers we so covet. We are incapable of downloading information after seeing or reading it one time. “Seeing it” isn’t good enough. You have to know it and be able to do it and properly show others. Finally you have to be able to teach it and then coach students through sticking points and problems.
We’ve all heard the saying “the best way to learn something is to teach it”. While this may be applicable in some realms it certainly isn’t in the medical field and it shouldn’t be in the field of personal defense either. If I screw up teaching you how to design a spreadsheet on a computer it’s unlikely someone may die. The same cannot be said for personal defense.
If you follow my advice to becoming an instructor remember to treat every single student like your sister, brother, mother or father. Provide them with the best skills and knowledge available because you won’t be there for their gunfight or self defense incident.
Finally, remember, it’s not a “job”, it’s not a social media status, it’s an obligation.