The NRA was founded on the principles of education and training in the safe and proper use of firearms. 145 years later, we continue to be the world-leader in firearms education and training with a network of over 125,000 Certified Instructors nationwide. This network is made up of men and women of all ages and backgrounds, but one commonality – they love to shoot, and love to teach others how to shoot too. NRA Certified Instructors are important because they are true ambassadors for the shooting sports and the Second Amendment. They understand the need for continued education and training in the shooting sports. To become an NRA Instructor, you must possess and demonstrate a solid background in firearm safety and shooting skills, must be intimately familiar with each action type in the discipline you wish to be certified in, and have completed all the pre-requisite courses and qualification exercises administered by an NRA appointed Training Counselor. Becoming an NRA Certified Instructor is no easy feat, but the benefits of becoming one are invaluable.
We want to thank all of our NRA Instructors for all that they do and continue to do, not just for the NRA, but for the shooting sports!!! With that being said, we want to highlight some of our most outstanding instructors, and let them tell their stories about why they continue to do what they do…
Meet Larry Pope, NRA Instructor, NRA Training Counselor, and Chairman of the Greater Cleveland Friends of NRA Committee. For the past 6 years, Larry has taught most NRA courses except reloading and muzzleloading. He has also taught a variety of courses on the use of non-lethal defensive devices, and several safety and awareness programs. Here’s Larry’s story:
How did your interest in firearms begin?
My interest in firearms began at an early age as a boy scout, however, my introduction to firearms occurred at Parris Island while attending USMC Basic Training (aka boot camp). I have been shooting for better than 25 years.
What shooting sports do you enjoy?
Spend any amount of time with me and you will quickly learn of my passion for youth marksmanship and competitive shooting. I am actively involved with the Civilian Marksmanship Program and am fortunate to live in close proximity to Camp Perry.
Why did you become a NRA Instructor/ Training Counselor? I became an Instructor because I saw a need for quality training and firearms education in underserved communities in Northeast Ohio. At the time, I was a youth leader at a church in Cleveland, Ohio and spoke often with young adults about the joys of marksmanship. Growing up in a metropolitan area, most had only heard that guns were bad and the cause of problems in their communities.
What are your thoughts on blended learning?
I am a strong advocate for Blended Learning and have been very outspoken about its benefits to the community and the future of firearms education. Blended Learning will “bridge the gap” for youth, those with non-traditional employment schedules, and others. It allows the student to learn at their pace versus the pace of the instructor. People learn differently and Blended Learning will give the public the flexibility to complete the self-study portion of instruction in the comfort of their home. Online education is a reality and is utilized on the majority of University Campuses. It is used by families that choose to home school their children. It is an effective tool for many professions that require continuing education and recertification for their members. Many NRA Instructors have obtained their Refuse To Be A Victim, Range Safety Officer, and other certifications through online training or home self-study. If education is about empowering our students, there is no question as to the benefits of Blended Learning.
On many occasions, I have heard my fellow Instructors discuss the desire for an update to the NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course. Many have asked for more hands on range time for our students and the new course delivers that. The NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course is very comprehensive and requires a greater commitment from the student and instructor. The definitions and virtual gun handling exercises will help students gain knowledge and develop skills before practicing them with the instructor. Having better educated students in our classrooms is a wonderful thing!
What has been the response from students who have taken the course?
I have received nothing but praise from students and Instructor candidates that have completed Phase I. A recent Instructor candidate stated that he had developed 30 pages of notes from his Phase I session. It was refreshing to see how well Instructor candidates received the new program. My 20 year old daughter and her friends love the idea of being able to complete Phase I over the course of several days. The seniors that I have worked with also prefer being able to complete Phase I within the comforts of their homes.
How has the new online format of the course affected you as an Instructor?
As an Instructor, I see the potential that the online format has. Being able to provide my students with materials prior to their class date makes our time together much more efficient. There is also much more emphasis on individual training and coaching which of course benefits the students immensely. I just can’t seem to find a downside to having a better educated student attend my class.
Thanks to Larry Pope for all that he does for the shooting sports and firearm education. For more information or to enroll in NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course, click here!