Become an NRA Instructor

Becoming an NRA Instructor


We receive many inquiries about becoming an NRA Instructor. The NRA is recognized nationally as the gold standard for safe firearm training, developing millions of safe, ethical, responsible shooters and instructors. There are many disciplines involved, and a certification for each NRA discipline. Learn about the NRA Training Program first, then learn about the Instructor certification and what is involved.

Instructor Levels

The NRA Training program includes three levels of NRA Instructors. Apprentice Instructors are aged 13-17 years old and may aid a Certified Instructor, but may not teach a lesson. Assistant Instructors are age 18 and up, and can also aid an Instructor, but may not actually teach a course by themselves. Courses must be conducted only by NRA Certified Instructors, age 21 and over. Most inquires we receive are about becoming an NRA Certified Instructor.

Basic Disciplines

Here are the BASIC courses;

  • Basic Home Firearm Safety
  • Basics of Pistol Shooting
  • Basic Rifle Shooting
  • Basic Shotgun Shooting
  • Basic Personal Protection In The Home
  • Basics of Personal Protection Outside The Home
  • Basic CCW
  • Basic Metallic Cartridge Reloading
  • Basic Shotgun Shell Reloading
  • Basic Range Safety Officer Course
  • Basic Muzzleloading Shooting

Each of the above courses have a corresponding Instructor certification that must be earned in order to teach that NRA course. Instructor courses are taught by NRA Training Counselors. An NRA Training Counselor (TC) is an experienced Instructor with a minimum number of classes and students under their belt. They must undergo additional training, called an NRA Training Counselor Development Workshop (TCDW).

NRA Instructor courses

Taking an Instructor course from an NRA TC is a big step. Not all Training Counselors are created equal. Find one that does not cut corners, that has a great reputation, one that gives yo good value. During the beginning of the journey, you are what is called an Instructor Candidate. Your TC will send you an email with an overview of what to expect and what to bring. You will have some tasks to complete prior to showing up for your Instructor course. You must first take the basic course for any Instructor course you take (except for Home Firearm Safety Instructor), and be able to provide your TC with the paper certificate of that accomplishment. Many TCs offer a package that includes the Basic course and the Instructor course. There are also shooting and gun handling qualifications you must pass. Some TCs will require this to be done prior to day 1 of your Instructor course, others may perform the qualification tasks during the Instructor course.

Important: Attending an NRA Instructor Course does not guarantee you will become an NRA Certified Instructor. The TC has a duty to only pass those Instructor Candidates that show the Knowledge, Skills, and Attitude to be an NRA Certified Instructor. Unsafe gun handling, poor attitude, or failing to pass the qualification are all common reasons for failing and NRA Instructor course.

Currently all Instructor courses are made up of Part 1 and a Part 2. Part 1 is always BASIC INSTRUCTOR TRAINING (BIT), and is always the same no matter which discipline you are taking. Part 2 is discipline specific, so the material and length of time varies based on the NRA discipline. The NRA is planning on separating BIT and making it a stand alone course, but that is in the distant future. Until then, many TCs do offer BIT by itself rather then part of the discipline specific course. When adding another NRA discipline certification, it is not required to take Part 1 (BIT) unless it’s been more than 24 months since the last time you took BIT. Some TCs may require you still take BIT from them, especially if you have never taken an Instructor course from that particular TC.

Some courses are available online for certified Instructors, such as RSO, Reloading, and RTBAV Instructor certifications.

Costs and Fees

The costs charged by NRA Training Counselors to take a course from them varies and is not mandated by the NRA. The prices quoted may or may not include all fees, such as range fees. Some TCs include snacks and bottled water, or even a catered lunch. Some may provide writing utensils, legal pad, a 3 ring binder to contain your lesson plans. Some require you to bring a laptop to use during the class. Be sure to ask what the quoted fee includes, and what you are expected to bring. Once you have completed and passed your NRA Instructor course, you will be directed to go to the NRA Instructor site and create a logon. When you log on for the first time, you will be directed to pay for your new NRA Instructor certifications. This fee paid to the NRA is never included on the Instructor course fee paid by you to the TC. You should count on purchasing insurance from a 3rd party insurer. This is not provided by the NRA and is not required, but is highly encouraged.

Prerequisites for some disciplines

Many NRA Instructor certifications have prerequisite certifications.

  • To be a Personal Protection In The Home (PPITH) Instructor, you must first be a Pistol Instructor
  • To be a Personal Protection Outside The Home (PPOTH) Instructor, you must first be a PPITH Instructor
  • To be a CCW Instructor, you must first be a Pistol Instructor

Being an NRA Instructor is, and isn’t…

You are an entrepreneur. You set your own hours, charge your own fees. If you are busy teaching, have a website, buy training aids, etc., think about creating an LLC and work with a CPA to be sure you are meeting all IRS rules. The NRA does not tell you how much to charge your clients, or if you need to charge at all. You may teach NRA classes you are certified to teach. When teaching NRA classes, there may be some materials that you must purchase from the NRA. The NRA has guidelines and rules that must be followed when teaching NRA courses. If you choose not to follow some of these rules, your certification may be suspended or revoked. It is their game, their rules. If you don’t like the rules, you must follow them anyway, or teach non-NRA courses. There are other NRA courses, clinic, seminars, and orientations you may teach with the certifications you have. You can create your own course (non-NRA) as long as you understand the NRA will not back you up, and you may only do so while marketing your NRA title with including a disclaimer, that the course is not an NRA course. I encourage you to work with other NRA Instructors to put on classes. I hope you see other NRA trainers as peers, not competition.

Other NRA courses

Other NRA courses, orientations, clinics, and seminars, (and the type of Instructor that can conduct the event);

  • Refuse To Be A Victim Seminar (RTBAV Instructors)
  • Women On Target clinic (Pistol, Rifle or Shotgun Instructors)
  • Gun Safety Seminar (Pistol Instructor)
  • Eddie Eagle Gunsafe (can be taught by anyone)
  • Pistol Marksmanship Simulator Training (Pistol Instructor)
  • FIRST Steps Rifle Orientation (Rifle Instructors)
  • FIRST Steps Shotgun Orientation (Shotgun Instructors)
  • Defensive Pistol Course (Defensive Pistol Instructors, or PPOTH Instructors)
  • Carry Guard Level 1 Training (Carry Guard Instructor)


Find a TC you trust, best done by asking current NRA Instructors who they recommend. Do this multiple times, and at some point you should start to hear a name be repeated buy instructors you trust.
Take an NRA Basic course in the discipline you want from a competent NRA Instructor.
Learn about firearm actions you are not currently familiar with.
Practice your shooting and your presentation skills.
Enjoy your course, participate fully, take notes.
When certified, plan and conduct a class as soon as you can. Friends and family members make honest test subjects.

Arizona CCW Instructor

Many years ago, there were Arizona CCW Instructors, and the program was managed by Arizona DPS. There were also official “Arizona CCW courses”.

There is no longer anything called an “Arizona CCW Instructor”. Currently, an Arizona CCW permit may be obtained by taking a gun safety course from an NRA Instructor. This does not need to be an NRA course, just must be taught by an NRA Instructor. When you see trainers advertising “Arizona CCW Class”, it can be anything, does not have to include range time, and does not have to be a minimum number of hours like in years past.

So it is conceivable that you can take a 10 hour course, become an NRA Home Firearm Safety Instructor, and teach a 10 minute course to somebody that will use the paper certificate to get their Arizona CCW permit. Yes, this happens. Don’t do it. Instead, invest in yourself and invest in your future clients by taking an NRA Basics Of Pistol Course and an NRA CCW Course, then taking the NRA Pistol Instructor and NRA CCW Instructor courses.