How to Set Up Your NRA Training Classroom

Want to make a good first impression for your students? Follow these guidelines to create a welcoming, professional environment.

by posted on June 3, 2024
Rao Nra Training Classroom Lede

In the NRA Basic Instructor Training Course (BIT), instructor candidates are taught that people come to NRA Instructors because they are the “Gold Standard” in firearm training. Additionally, the NRA expects NRA Instructors to provide a “warm and welcoming” environment. This includes any communications, both at the range and in the classroom.

When a student enters your classroom, they get their first impression on you as an instructor. Their first impression of you will be based on whether your classroom is clean or dirty, organized or messy, orderly or cluttered. Any classroom used to conduct an NRA Firearms course should be clean and organized so the students have an environment conducive to learning.

During the BIT training, instructor candidates are taught that an NRA class is not a place to advance any personal agenda or bias. Additionally, according to BIT, an NRA class is not the place to advocate for any political party or campaign. This means an NRA instructor needs to be aware of these issues when decorating or setting up their classroom.

When setting up their classrooms, NRA Instructors should be aware of NRA policies and procedures as well as using a bit of common sense. When setting up their classrooms, instructors need to be aware of their instructor attire, required posters, relevant training aids, displaying certifications, and comfort items.

Instructor Attire
What an instructor wears, or his or her attire, can set the tone of the class from the beginning. If you are conducting an NRA class, you should be wearing appropriate NRA shirts, hats, patches and other items offered on the NRA’s online store. If you are not offering an NRA class, then appropriate attire should be worn such as a brimmed hat, close-toed shoes, long pants, and shirt with a high collar to prevent hot brass from falling down your shirt resulting in the “hot brass dance.”

Be careful not to overdo it when it comes to clothing, especially for a basic class. You do not have to look like you are about to be deployed as a Navy Seal when teaching. Dressing tactically can intimidate a new shooter. For example, I used to wear a nice button-down, long-sleeved shooting shirt when I taught. On the sleeve I proudly displayed my NRA Instructor patch with several of the rocker patches naming my shooting certifications below it, as well as a Range Safety Officer (RSO) and Chief RSO patch. A lady in the class asked me a question on a break and I told her that was a good question. I asked her why she did not ask during class. She responded that she was intimidated by all the patches on my shirt. Since then, I now only wear a simple red NRA Instructor shirt when teaching.

NRA Posters 
The only training aids that the NRA requires in your classroom are credential-specific posters. These are what are referred to as “restricted Items,” meaning that an instructor can only get items that they are credentialed and certified to teach. NRA Instructors are expected to use the appropriate NRA posters in their classes. Any other posters should be firearm and/or safety oriented.

Relevant Training Aids
Wall coverings and displays should be relevant to firearm training. Classroom decorations could be dummy or inert cartridge displays, firearms industry posters, firearm industry training aids, a poster of the Range Rules, etc. As long as what you are putting on the walls is non-threatening and relates to the topic at hand, it should be appropriate for an NRA Firearms class.

Instructors should use caution when using “funny” or controversial items in their classroom. Funny or cute posters or signs may not come across as funny or cute to some of your students. They may offend some of your students.

It is also important to be mindful of what flags you display in your classroom. Many times, the only flags acceptable would be the American flag, your state flag and the NRA flag. For example, there was another instructor in my area that displayed a large Confederate flag in his classroom. I know this because many of his students and others that heard about the flag were offended and came to my class for additional training. Without getting into a big discussion about what this flag means to different people, it is not firearms training related, therefore it is not an appropriate classroom decoration or display.

Displaying Certificates 
NRA Instructors should display their current NRA Credential Certificates. This is because students should be sure of the qualifications of their instructors. NRA certificates show all the credentials an instructor holds. It also shows that the instructor is current with his or her credentialing. All NRA Instructors are required to renew their credentials every two years. If an instructor does not renew, he or she is no longer an NRA Certified Instructor and falls inactive.

Displaying non-NRA certifications can add to an instructor’s credibility. It shows that an instructor not only earned the minimum certifications to teach a class, but also believes in their own continuing education. If you are teaching an NRA class, you are required to stick to the lesson plan, but additional training can only help you become a better instructor. If you are teaching a non-NRA class, displaying NRA certifications shows that you have been properly trained in specified disciplines and have learned what it takes to be an effective instructor.

Comfort Items 
If you are conducting an NRA Firearms Training course, you are required to provide comfort items. These include a comfortable classroom, nearby restroom, and adequate air conditioning and heating. Comfort items are also coffee, condiments, donuts, snacks, water, hand sanitizer, paper towels, etc. Firearm training classes, especially NRA courses, can last many hours.

Comfort items are required to keep the students focused, on-topic, and are also there for safety reasons. It is hard to learn if you are hungry or thirsty. Some of your students may have blood sugar issues that you might not be aware of. Also, you want to keep your students hydrated. This is especially true if you are conducting a class in the summertime in the southern part of the United States and are shooting on an outdoor range.

We are all susceptible to our first impressions. This is why it is important as an NRA Instructor that you do everything you can to provide a positive first impression. If your students enter your class with a bad first impression, then you as an instructor must overcome that, so that your students retain what you are teaching. The NRA got it right in their instructor course presentation: “People may forget what you said, they may forget what you did, but they will never forget the way you made them feel!”


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