Two days ago, I used a post by Kathy Jackson as a point of departure for considering apprenticeship as a path to becoming a firearms instructor and a potential way – like professionalization, licensing, and certification – to ensure quality in training services offered to the private sector.
At the end of that older post, “How to Become a Firearms Instructor,” and in a post published just last week, Jackson highlights one more path to consider. From the perspective of the person becoming a firearms instructor, it is what she calls the “DO-IT-YOURSELF ROAD.” She lists 11 steps from getting the NRA Basic Pistol certificate (#1) to taking at least 40 hours of additional training (#4) to joining a Toastmasters club (#7) to shooting regularly (#8) to the final step: “Keep learning” (#11).
Jackson’s recent post deals with this same issue from the perspective of the consumer of firearms training. The approach she suggests is what I call CREDENTIALISM.
To quote from her recent post:
From my email box:
In selecting a qualified firearms instructor, what certifications, etc. should one look for?”
The short answer is, if you’re looking for a good teacher you can trust, don’t look for specific certificates as go/no-go gauges.
Instead, look for an ongoing pattern to the person’s resume. What you want is someone who is a good shooter and life-long learner who prides himself or herself on meeting the needs of the student. Certifications and award medals matter only in the sense that they document a person’s activity toward that end.
Essentially Jackson is suggesting that the student look at the instructor’s CREDENTIALS, among which can be certain professional affiliations, licenses, certifications, and apprenticeships. But as at the University of Phoenix, instructors should also be given credit for prior learning in the school of life, something a certification alone doesn’t account for.
Of course, not all prior learning is necessarily applicable to private citizen firearms training. A good number of private citizen firearms trainers today come from military backgrounds. Their own training and experience may have included tactical breaching, room clearing, “weapon manipulation,” running (with) carbines, rifle-to-pistol transitions, and of course, shooting from and jumping out of helicopters.
As such, they are sometimes looked upon by more established trainers with curiosity or disdain, not to mention some jealousy at the popularity of their classes. For example, decorated combat service veteran and special operator Kyle Defoor already has courses sold out for 2018 from California to Maine.
How those coming from these military backgrounds adapt their knowledge, experience, and skills to private sector training is something I hope to explore more as I go along. In addition to Defoor Performance Shooting, other ex-military names that pop up on my radar regularly are Chris Costa (Costa Ludus), Jeff Gonzalez (Trident Concepts), Travis Haley (Haley Strategic Partners), Paul Howe (CSAT), Kyle Lamb (Viking Tactics), Patrick McNamara (TMACS), and John “Shrek” McPhee a.k.a., “the Sheriff of Baghdad” (Gunfighter U.). Surely there are others I am missing.
Here Jackson’s credentialism would suggest looking not just at one aspect of the person’s background – e.g., military operator status – but at multiple dimensions. And not only multiple dimensions, but at the trajectory a person is on. As the old saying goes, it is a journey not a destination.
In the age of the internet, this becomes easier in some ways (the information is out there somewhere) and harder in others (too much unvetted information is out there).
I have covered a lot of ground in this review of the civilian/private citizen firearms training industry/community. I have looked at the rise of civilian firearms training industry, as well as various means of ensuring quality in training services offered, including professionalization, licensing, certification, and apprenticeship. All of my posts on the issue are collected on a single landing page.
My last post in this series will consider one final approach to quality assurance in the gun training industry: branding.