Finding the right instructor is very important when you’re looking to take a concealed carry class. While it will depend on your state, you are almost likely to be required to take training (and if you’re not, read up on why you might want to take some anyways), and the quality of that training matters when it comes to you being able to protect yourself when you’re carrying and a threat arises.
Just as you want the right gun, holster, ammunition and clothing, you want to find someone who will teach you to be the best you can be and bring out both the skills you already have and the questions you need to ask to become better.
Finding a good, licensed instructor can turn your concealed carry course from a boring, learn-little experience into something you’ll remember and something that makes you excited about learning more.
The first thing you should look at is how safe your instructor is. What sort of safety precautions has he taken? He should have a first aid kit at the ready, he should be ready with ear plugs if you are live-firing, he should have safety goggles for you, and he should stress the importance of safety when handling a firearm. In fact, if safety training is the first thing on your curriculum, you’re probably in good shape. This is pretty basic stuff for a good firearms instructor, so if the person you’re considering doesn’t seem like they value this highly, you should find another instructor.
References are very helpful when you are looking for an instructor. Get it right out of the mouths of people who have trained with him before. Is he any good? Did they learn everything? Do they feel like he made them a better handler of their firearm? Check online, ask your friends who have taken courses in your area, and ask around the local gun groups/shooting ranges.
How much experience does this person actually have with guns, shooting and teaching? How often does this person actually shoot? Have they trained for a long time? Find out how familiar they are with firearms and training, because while some people may think they can instruct, there are a lot of poor instructors out there who think that just because they can shoot a gun they can train. Just make sure your instructor actually shoots and enjoys it. While not necessary, it can help if the instructor has military or law enforcement training and experience.
What is the course structure? Different teachers will have different styles when it comes to the course structure and material. Some want to be the ‘big man’ in the class and will make you feel stupid for asking questions. Stay away from these guys with big egos. You’ll learn nothing because you’ll be afraid to screw up or ask questions, because they’ll belittle you in front of everyone. Get someone who genuinely cares and wants to help people learn.
Does your instructor know a lot? Seriously – how knowledgeable is he or she about state laws? Does he or she stay up to date on the latest firearm news and technological advancements? It helps to have someone who has a vast knowledge base because lots of different questions can come up when you’re training.
What kind of class sizes does the instructor typically deal with? Your ability to learn may increase if you get more one on one time, and that means that a smaller class size is usually better for you getting the best training.
How much are you going to be paying for this training? There isn’t usually too much variable in how much a CCW class costs. If you find a $50 difference, that’s usually quite a lot, so you should check into that. The thing is, if someone is charging way too much, make sure you’re talking about value, not just monetary cost. If it’s more expensive, but way better training, you might consider it. On the flip side, if an instructor only wants $10 for training compared to $100 down the road, ask yourself how good the training is and why it’s so inexpensive.
Don’t go for the ‘too good to be true’ or ‘salesmen’ instructors. There are so many people out there looking to take your money and scam you. We like to think that in the firearms community we’re all good to each other and have a sort of unique bond. However, people will always be trying to make a buck and this is not exception. Just look out for people who seem scammy or shifty.