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 NRA Certified Instructor Matthew Courtney. Matthew began his passion for the shooting sports through hunting with his father and Boy Scouts camps. Today, he is a NRA Instructor at Louisiana Shooters Unlimited, the first educational institution in the country to be approved to train U.S. Service Veterans to become NRA Instructors using their GI Bill benefits. Here is his story:
When did you learn to shoot?
I learned to shoot a shotgun by duckhunting with my Dad in Southwest Louisiana when I was 7 or 8. Riflery was learned at Boy Scout camp a few years later. After being the victim of a home invasion over Memorial Day week-end in 1991, a friend taught me how to shoot pistols.
Why did you become a NRA Instructor?
When a family friend was notified that he was to be called up to active duty with the Louisiana National Guard 2004-2005 deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, his wife wanted to get a concealed handgun permit for the protection of his family while he was away. While he was deployed, I tried to take his kids hunting. Neither of those things happened because of the lack of the required training in Southwest Louisiana. When he got back, we decided to solve the problem for our community by becoming civilian firearms Instructors. Hurricane Katrina hit just before the 256th got back, and Hurricane Rita devastated Southwest Louisiana right after he returned. This caused us to be delayed, but we would not be denied in our quest to serve our community. We founded Louisiana Shooters Unlimited and became trained as NRA Pistol Instructors in January, 2006 and taught our first course on March 17, 2006.
What courses do you teach?
At Louisiana Shooters Unlimited, we now teach the NRA Basic Pistol, Basic Rifle, Basic Shotgun, Range Safety Officer, Muzzleloading, Shotshell Reloading, Metallic Cartridge Reloading, Personal Protection inside the Home, Personal Protection Outside the Home, Home Firearms Safety, and Refuse to be a Victim courses. We also train NRA Instructors in all of those Disciplines, as well as teaching Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Hunter Education Courses.
What are your thoughts on the new Basics of Pistol Shooting course?
The new Basics of Pistol Shooting course has several advantages. NRA Instructors are now able to train twice as many Basic Pistol Students to a higher level of proficiency in the same amount of time. It also makes pistol training much more convenient for our clients. Instead of having to schedule time off, arrange child care, etc for a full day, clients will only have to find a way to spend a half day with us. Allowing students to master a significant portion of the material in the comfort of their own home is a win, win , win. It is better for our clients, better for the NRA, and better for NRA Instructors.
How has blended learning affected you as an Instructor? Your students?
Implementing any new program creates challenges along with the opportunities. Blended learning has caused our team to reflect at length about how we approach many of the things that we do. Via that process, we have developed new marketing strategies, as well as modified our organizational structure in ways that we expect will make us better trainers in every avenue of our instruction. One may draw positive results from most discussions when he brings a positive attitude into them, and blended learning has certainly started quite a few conversations. We are seeing students that may not have been able to take a class offered under the old format. One of the biggest obstacles for people seeking to take a course from us has been child care. Now, Momma can take Phase II of Basic Pistol from us in the morning and Papa can take it with us in the afternoon. How could it get any better than that?
What do you think is the future of firearms training?
I think that the future of firearms training is inexorably linked with the future of both the future of the United States of America and the future of Liberty itself. The greatest unexpected bonus from doing what we do has been seeing how empowered people are by the learning processes that put them in control of their own personal safety. We want to see a day where every American has a trusted NRA Instructor in their neighborhood so that they may seek firearms training from someone that they know and trust. Many folks are reticent about seeking firearms training due, in part, to the "drill instructor" image that the media has helped create. When training is offered by someone who they know, and trust will treat them respectfully, virtually everyone will consider taking a course. When virtually every American brings an attitude of empowerment into the things that they do, Liberty could not be more secure.
In 2013, Louisiana Shooters Unlimited in Lake Charles became the first educational institution in the country to be approved to train US Service Veterans with GI Bill benefits to become NRA Instructors using their GI Bill benefits. In 2015, we expanded that program to New Orleans and are now approved to train disabled Veterans with Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits to be NRA Instructors, as well as Security Officers. We are determined to help make this happen for veterans all over the country. Helping our veterans reconnect with their communities in ways that are very meaningful to everyone involved has been the greatest honor of my life. In my wildest dreams I could not have envisioned myself doing something as cool as this. I am very, very blessed.... Now, onward with the work of securing those Blessings of Liberty for our posterity!
Thanks to Matthew Courtney 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!