The new NRA CCW class

Over the October 11-14, 2019 long weekend I and KR Training instructors John Daub and Tracy Thronburg got certified as instructors in the new NRA CCW course. The training was conducted by Tiffany Johnson and Aqil Qadir from the Citizens Safety Academy. Tiff and Aqil are also Rangemaster certified instructors in addition to being NRA Training Counselors.

Tiffany, John, Karl and Aqil

The new CCW program is derived from the older Personal Protection Outside the Home materials, but restructured into individual modules that can be combined and adjusted to meet the varying training requirements of all 50 states, or simply used as building blocks to create one or more basic / intermediate level classes. The live fire portion of the NRA CCW course was written to teach holster use, including drawing from concealment. State specific courses of fire can be used when the class is used for state certification.

Getting Certified To Teach

To get certified to teach the new course, applicants must be an NRA Basic Pistol instructor and have taken the Basic Instructor Training module within the past 2 years. Many of those attending had not taken BIT that recently, so on Friday I ran a BIT session to update those that needed it.

Saturday, Tiffany and Aqil taught a student version of the course, built from the safety module and other modules covering material not included in the Texas License to Carry course. For the session we hosted, we made a Texas LTC a requirement to ensure that everyone had already received training in those topics. Attending (and passing) the student CCW course is a requirement for instructors getting certified to teach the new class. That requirement is rigid, even for those that are already certified in the older Personal Protection Outside the Home or have had similar non-NRA training from other sources.

Sunday and Monday was the instructor training class, where the course content and use of the modules to build courses that comply with NRA policies was presented. This included teachbacks, where instructor trainees taught material from the course, and range sessions where instructor trainees ran the firing line through the drills in the class. The instructor class includes an instructor qualification course of fire and a written test.

The NRA has requested that the course of fire not be shared publicly. It includes drawing from concealment and reloads in timed fire strings, with reasonable par times and accuracy requirements. In our class (and as reported from other instructor courses), the standards are high enough that some instructor trainees with limited/no prior experience drawing from concealment or shooting timed fire drills beyond the state carry permit level are not likely to pass. One interesting aspect of the new qual is that 100% of the shots fired must hit inside the acceptable hit zone on the target for the student (or instructor) to pass. Claude Werner recently blogged about the value of that scoring approach.

NRA Basic pistol instructors seeking to add this rating should not assume that simply attending the student version of the CCW class will build sufficient skill to pass the instructor course if they are offered back to back. Several people interested in instructor certification attended the student course but skipped the instructor class, planning to put in additional work on their skills before seeking certification. In order to pass the instructor course, you need to have enough experience working from a holster that you can observe and fix errors in the concealment draw, and enough shooting skill that you can observe and correct errors in technique beyond the basic pistol level. That experience goes beyond simply being able to pass the shooting qual at instructor level.

This aspect of the new program is something I support. Over the past 20+ years, the ‘brand value’ of NRA instructor certification has plummeted, with perhaps too many people that were not ready to be instructors getting their NRA Basic Pistol (and state carry permit instructor) certifications, and teaching others without really having enough subject matter expertise to do a good job. The NRA CCW rating is harder to get, and those that earn it will meet a higher standard. The burden will be on those of us that are Training Counselors in the new course to keep the standards of who we certify at the appropriate level. (As a result of attending this training, I did get certified as a TC in the new course, and KR Training will be offering the student and instructor classes in it in 2020, dates TBA).

The course is still new, with the actual CCW student book still in development, and an update to the Basics of Pistol Shooting coming this fall from NRA.

Using the CCW course materials

After the class completed and the training report was filed with NRA, those of us that were certified as instructors and Training Counselors in the new course received access to digital versions of the lesson plans and other materials. I and the other KR Training staff are taking a deep look at them, along with the NRA policies, to ensure that when we integrate the CCW content into courses in the KR Training program that we meet NRA guidelines and use the content to enhance our existing classes. NRA allows issuing a CCW class certificate for as little as one module (the safety module), so we may end up with several courses in the Defensive Pistol Skills Program that include different modules. Our intention is to incorporate all the modules in to our program so that those that complete the entire 40 hour course sequence with us also complete the entire NRA CCW course (including the shooting qual and written test.) Currently our DPS program does not include a formal written test to earn the challenge coin, and the large bank of questions NRA provided for building a module-specific CCW test appears to fit well with our curriculum.

Moving in the Right Direction

When Carry Guard launched, I wrote a white paper and submitted it to NRA with my thoughts on what should have been done (instead of the Carry Guard program). The key points were:

  • Identify instructors trained in the Personal Protection Outside the Home material or similar
  • Create a new instructor rating that had qualification standards roughly equivalent to more-respected non-NRA instructor ratings such as Rangemaster or CSAT, particularly with regard to shooting skill requirements
  • Give instructors more flexibility in delivery of the material, within bounds of industry standards for teaching of these topics. (The content of our DPS-1, DPS-2 and DPS-3 courses covers the exact material of the older NRA PPOTH course, but we could not issue an NRA certificate because we did not use the NRA’s exact range commands in teaching the drawstroke, and other minor variances.)
  • Have higher standards for Training Counselors in the new course to eliminate “certificate collectors”. (The people you want teaching instructors how to teach the CCW course are people that regularly teach these topics to actual students, and not TC’s whose only experience in the topic was their initial certification and offering instructor training classes.)

The goal behind this idea was to support the NRA affiliated grass roots trainers that were already in the field doing the work teaching these topics. I was not part of any discussions with the Training and Education Committee, nor the T&E department at NRA, after the white paper was submitted, but perhaps those ideas either reached the right people, or others had similar ideas independent of my thoughts. Regardless, the foundation of the new CCW program is in line with what I had hoped the NRA would do to update their training standards and curriculum. As a result, KR Training will be working on CCW course integration, with plans to roll out those changes (and offer the student and instructor classes) in early 2020.