I know, I know, it’s just a CCW Renewal class. No need to get all excited and try to teach these “veteran gun carriers” anything new. Just get them in for a four-hour session and get them signed off for another two years. Right? I hear that a lot from some students, and I mean…I get it… I guess. Students are annoyed that they have to come in every two years and spend their hard-earned time and money renewing a permit that some see as an arbitrary state mandate. All they want is for it to be painless as possible. Like is said, “I get it.” Add that feeling to the obvious worry about passing the shooting qualification, well, because they haven’t shot in two years, and you have some real temptation to take the “path of least resistance.” I believe it is because of this dynamic that we as instructors are also tempted to get on this path and make it “as easy as possible” for our students and therefore cheat them (and ourselves) out of what can really be a productive use of time. Don’t get me wrong; I am not implying that any of us professionals are half-stepping (google it) on our classes at all. I am simply stating that I can spot a true professional teaching CCW Renewal a mile away…and of course, I can spot the instructor who is “half-stepping” (did you google it yet?–ok fine, here it is from the Slang Dictionary):
- to do anything in a half-hearted manner
Some of us have taught tens of thousands of students over the years, so getting into a model like this is not surprising. Even more so, the students can get into this mode. Here are a few tips to ensure that your CCW renewal classes are both fun and productive.
#1 Keep the “end in mind.”–
The “end goal” of the session is to review important concepts of concealed carry, to ensure safety, and to get your student as ready as you can to protect themselves or somebody else from death or great bodily injury by using a firearm if the need arises. When I get my students seated in class or on the range, I let them know that is what we are there for. I also let them know that I will expect their ENTIRE effort during the course and that I promise to keep it relevant and as fun/challenging as possible. The State of California is clear that you must teach safety, firearms handling, shooting technique, and laws applicable to the permissible use. This sets the tone for learning together. (https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB2103)
Students enjoy a challenge. All of our County CCW Courses and County CCW Renewal Courses at Northern Firearms Instruction include a written test. Of course, we don’t talk about it in advertising or make a big deal out of it because truth-be-told, most folks don’t want a challenge until they are faced with it. So we get them adjusted to their life with NFI for the next four hours and then “BAM”-let’s take a test! They take the written test, learn most of what is required by challenging them, and guess what?- the test includes most of what they need to know according to the State of California to renew their CCW!
#3. Safety and Shooting Technique. I would say this is where most instructors struggle with renewals. Did you know “shooting technique” is written in the CA Penal Code as required to complete a CCW Renewal Course? This portion of the course can mean different things to different people. Try to incorporate challenges into your CCW renewal range sessions as well. We always teach shooting techniques in initial CCW classes, but for some reason, we seem to think our “veteran gun carriers” know all there is to know about defensive shooting techniques, and we will throw them on the range to qualify on their own. How do I know this? Because I see them every Thursday or Sunday morning;- grips all jacked up, standing flat-footed, thumbs behind the slide waiting to bleed, dominant eye issues, flagging their neighbor, the list goes on, but you get my point. Teach and demonstrate the five fundamentals of pistol shooting and any other drill you feel is important. You may only have an hour or two to get this done, so you must manage your time, but detailing every fundamental will remind your students how important it is to stick with the basics. Lastly, if you are not demonstrating every drill and skill you teach, you are doing a disservice to yourself and your students. At NFI, the uniform always includes a gun belt, complete with a double magazine carrier so the instructor can show students “what right looks like” every step of the way. One of my favorite drills for renewals is “one-handed shooting.” We use both dominant and support hand shooting and normally challenge students by using this technique to qualify with a firearm. Imagine their surprise when they shoot 80% into the 9-ring of a B27 silhouette with their support hand? That’s making a connection and making a better shooter!
If I sound like I think I know what is going on in your classes. It is because I do. NFI teaches so many classes over so large a footprint that I understand the challenges each one of our instructors face. If you cared enough about becoming the best instructor you can be that you read this entire post, I have a confession to make: This post is about keeping ME enthused about my classes. Reminding myself before each class to keep the end in mind, challenge my students, and focus on safety and shooting technique resets my “motivation meter” and helps me realize, it’s not about me. It’s about the legacy of excellence that we all leave with our shooters, and the very real possibility that they may need what we teach to save sombeody’s life.
Chief Instructor Ted Lidie has been teaching pistol, rifle, carbine, shotguns, and BB guns for over 35 years. His experience includes NRA Training Counselor, Glock Certified Instructor, USCCA Certified Instructor, DOJ Certified Instructor, California Hunter Education Instructor, and retired Army Command Sergeant Major.
You can reach Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org.