I have been teaching firearms training courses for many years and educated many, many thousands in firearms safety and proper handling and use. I am very lucky—my vocation is my avocation! As hard as I work to keep my firearms classes at the level the NRA expects, there is nothing like having students who appreciate the class on a higher level and reinforce my passion for teaching. Recently, I met some of those very students.
James reached out to me because he was taking his 21-year-old son and his 12-year-old niece deer hunting in the fall, for the very first time. He wanted to register for my upcoming NRA Basic Rifle course so his family could receive recognized and standardized training. While James had been shooting and hunting for many years, his son and niece were first-time shooters and soon-to-be first time-hunters.
I always begin my classes with introductions to find out a bit more about my students, why they are taking the course, and what they expect to get out of it. This way I can address their needs or concerns and do my best to ensure they get exactly what they were hoping for out of the class. Students who seek out an NRA course know they will get the best training behind the name, and that certified NRA instructors are setting the bar for all firearms training.
This family of three could not wait to share their reason for attending. James shared his hunting plans for his son Jamison and niece Paityn. Most importantly, he wanted them to have the proper firearms training first. After listening to James, I realized that he exemplified the definition of a responsible firearm owner.
I frequently hear from students that they prefer not to have their family members teach them how to shoot. That’s not because their family members do not know the proper shooting techniques, but because they do not have the proper training techniques. NRA Instructors are trained in the best way to get information across accessibly—and it is easier to learn from an objective and certified teacher.
As I was teaching, I kept an eye on Jamison and Paityn. Twelve-year-old Paityn was taking notes like a seasoned college student, and her older cousin Jamison was hanging on every word. Paityn later told me how excited she was when it was time to head to the range to shoot.
When we got to the range, the two cousins were like any other first-time shooters. Their shots started out all over the target. They had to learn the proper fundamentals of shooting: aiming, breath control, hold control, trigger control and follow-through. After just a short time behind the trigger, they both started getting pretty good shot groupings.
Watching a brand-new shooter start hitting where they are aiming is an unforgettable sight. First, you see the grin emerge from ear to ear. Then comes the excitement as their sense of pride rises. Best of all, you see them fill with self-confidence. When you see their confidence, you know you did a great job.
I will never forget Paityn’s squeals of “I did it!” and “Look at my target!” Her enthusiasm made all the other students in my class just as excited as she was. The cousins took pictures next to their targets and James was beaming with pride. Events like these remind me of why I became an NRA Firearm Instructor.
Several days later I received a call from James. He wanted to know what I did to his son! It turned out that the 21-year-old—who was previously chiefly interested in video games and social media—had registered for a Hunter Education class and drove over an hour to attend. James said that Jamison had never shown an interest in shooting, hunting or the outdoors before attending my NRA Basic Rifle class. He was thrilled to see this glow of excitement take over his son, especially now that they can spend quality time together outdoors.
James later filled me in on their successful hunting season, and how they created new family traditions and memories. After hunting season, Jamison convinced his mother to join him at my next NRA Basic Pistol class. He was proud to have his mom sitting next to him, soon to experience the training with him.
During my regular introductions, she shared her anxiety about guns with the class. She revealed that her husband bought her a handgun when Jamison was born 21 years ago, and that it had been sitting in the original box in her drawer ever since. Jamison said that was the main reason he persuaded her to sign up for the class: So she could get over her fear of firearms in a supportive and comfortable environment.
After several hours in the classroom learning all about firearms, terminology, safe storage and handling several training guns and dummy ammunition, my apprehensive student was looking more relaxed. She even seemed a bit excited to be headed to the range to the .22 single-action pistols! She followed all the safety rules and range commands, and kept asking if she could shoot again, and again … and again. Due to her positive experience, she now has a new pastime to share with her family.
NRA Firearms Training has the ability to transform families. Quality time on the range brings people together and makes for great family traditions and memories. Thanks to a responsible family member, Jamison and Paityn successfully completed the NRA Basic Rifle class and became more knowledgeable, competent and confident. Their family couldn’t be happier with their new hunting and shooting partners!
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