By Kerrin Brinkman | March 23 2012 10:45

Developing more female NRA Certified Instructors has been a major goal of the Women's Programs Department these last few years. Many women want to learn to shoot and are looking for another woman to show them the ropes - that's where NRA's cadre of female instructors comes into play. Arizona's Amber Kunau recently joined that group, earning her certification as an NRA Certified Instructor. Amber shared her experience with NRAblog and explained what led her to get her certification and how she's using it to train others.

NRA Certified Instructor Amber Kunau Becoming an NRA Certified Instructor was something I had thought about frequently so when I saw classes listed at my local range (Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club) it seemed like the perfect time to jump in and get to work. I started with the Range Safety Officer (RSO) class done by Jim Neff of Generations Firearms in Mesa, Arizona. The RSO class taught by Jim was interactive, informative and fun. After the great experience I had in the RSO class, I knew that getting my instructor certification with Jim was going to be nothing less than a great experience and the knowledge I would take away would be invaluable to me as a firearms instructor. In fact, I enjoyed that class so much I signed up for several more and went on to get my instructor level training in Pistol, Personal Protection Inside The Home, and Personal Protection Outside The Home and still have upcoming instructor classes in my calendar for Rifle and Shotgun.

The biggest thing that I took away from these classes is that students learn by doing. A great instructor doesn’t just stand in front of the class and just talk. Instead, a great instructor gets the class involved in mock “real life” scenarios and great discussions which gets everyone thinking on their own and working hard for their certification. I also learned that a good attitude is an absolute necessity.

I was interested in getting my instructor certification in the hope of one day being able to start my own business such as an indoor range or firearms training business. I want to help people learn how to safely use firearms and bring more people into the sport I love and am so passionate about. I also want to teach people the best ways to prepare and protect them out there in the world. I have been fortunate enough to co-instruct several NRA courses since receiving my certification. The experience I’ve gained instructing classes is invaluable. I take a great deal of pride in seeing students go from close to zero firearms knowledge at the beginning of a class to ending with the skills and knowledge to safely operate a firearm.

I’ve been shooting competitively and recreationally for about two years. I shoot in local matches for fun and am a member of USPSA. I shoot Tuesday Night Steel, Tactical .22 and a few USPSA matches here and there. I volunteer for the Maricopa County Sheriffs Posse and because of my NRA certifications I will be able to help train new posse members in firearms training.

NRA Certified Instructor Amber Kunau on the range

For any woman thinking of becoming an NRA instructor I can’t recommend doing it enough. I was the only woman in my instructor courses and the one that had by far the least amount of shooting experience. At one point in class my Training Counselor Jim asked me to think about where I was year ago with my shooting experience. I said, “Well, I was at the range and accidentally loaded normal ammo in my lightweight .38 special and it startled me so much I sat it down and never wanted to shoot again.” Then Jim said, “Okay now picture where you will be a year from now based on far you’ve come in the last year.” He then told me you may not know as much as the other instructors in class but that is OK because you will know even more a year from now than you know right now. The point he made still resonates with me. In fact, I use that as a guide when I am teaching new shooters, at the end of the day if they know more than they knew going into it then that is what really matters. It’s all about learning and having fun doing it!

If becoming an NRA instructor is something a woman is considering I would say all it takes is dedication and determination which is something I find woman do not shy away from anyways. Becoming an NRA instructor is something I am very proud of. As a woman and as a mother I feel like I am setting an example for my children and hopefully for other woman too, that if you set your mind to something, with a little hard work and the right attitude than anything is possible. The NRA is a great organization and one I am proud to be a part of. I truly hope to see more woman NRA instructors in the near future!

Thanks for sharing your story, Amber! If you're a woman looking to become an NRA Instructor, you can find a instructor course in your area at or you can request a list of Training Counselors in your geographic area by contacting the NRA Training Department at 703-267-1430. If you're joining us in St. Louis next month, you can take part in the NRA Women's Pistol Instructor Course at the 2012 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits. For more information or to register, contact Diane Danielson at

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