There is a lot of speculation about the NRA Carry Guard Level I class, who will teach it, and the motivation for its creation. I have learned a lot more about it in recent days, but it's not for me to disclose details at this point. I will address a few concerns in general terms.
I think I know where this theme began, but it's wrong. Although the primary trainers are special forces guys, it is not SEAL school by any means. The course will be designed for the typical LTC person, but it certainly will be more than the range portion of PPIH and PPOH, a lot more. The promotional videos I've seen are hardly "operator" school by any stretch of the imagination. They are very short videos, but they appear to show what I did in my very first class (Defensive Handgun) at Thunder Ranch. Anyone who considers that skill set/level to be "operator school" shouldn't take the class or apply to be a Carry Guard Instructor. This isn't meant to be insulting, but a focus on the intensity level of the course. I have no doubt that the course will modified over a short period of time to address any concerns. Again, I wish I could say more but it is not my place to do so.
Who will teach the Carry Guard Classes?
I don't know the full extent of the screening process, but it is my understanding that some NRA Instructors will be able become Carry Guard Instructors. As one Member has pointed out, the NRA set eligibility requirements for NRA Instructors to get certified to teach PPIH and PPOH. In view of the advanced training and physical agility requirement involved, Carry Guard instructor candidates must also be screened. The current instructor team everyone is seeing on videos are those who will train and certify NRA Instructors to teach Carry Guard classes. They are not traveling instructors who will be the only people teaching the courses. I presume/hope that there will be an effective screening process to select current NRA instructors who will be eligible to teach Carry Guard classes. My personal opinion is that the vast majority of NRA instructors do not have the training, experience and perhaps even physical stamina to teach CG courses.
Again, this is not an insult. It's a recognition that of the 100,000+ current NRA instructors, only a small percentage have advanced training in fighting with a handgun. Notice I said "fighting" as opposed to basic skills courses. Note also that every single NRA course currently in existence is titled "Basic." (“Basic” Rifle Course, "Basic" Pistol Course, "Basic" PPIH, "Basic" PPOH.) Each is titled "Basic" because target audience is people with little to no experience in the subject matter. Any current NRA instructor knows that the range portion of each of these classes is indeed BASIC! One IDPA match gives people more shooting experience and training, but that’s fine. Again, the target audience is people with little or no shooting experience.
Cost of the Carry Guard Classes
I don’t know anything about the cost of the courses. I don’t know if the NRA has a hand in it or whether it’s up to the instructor as is the case now. $850 for a three-day 1,500 rd. course is not expensive in today’s market. Some people can afford to take an $850 class and some cannot. Unless an instructor owns a range and has free assistant instructors, he/she will have significant expenses in connection with a Carry Guard course. The profit will not be $850 per student.
This may turn out to be correct, especially from a macro perspective. However, it’s not relevant to the NRA’s motivation for creating Carry Guard courses. There has long been a demand from gun owners for the NRA to create self-defense courses that are more advanced than anything currently offered by the NRA. Not only did Members want advanced courses, they wanted to be sure the classes were the same regardless where the class was offered. This was the impetus for creating Carry Guard.
By no means is Carry Guard intended to render any of the current NRA classes obsolete. Indeed, when I’m asked about PPIH and PPOH, I tell them they are great courses, primarily because of the information presented in the classroom. I candidly tell them the range drills are basic and boring, if they have any handgun shooting experience at all. Unlike the countless tactical courses I’ve taken, the NRA PPIH and PPOH cover subject matter in the classroom that was never mentioned in any of the tactical courses.
Obviously, anyone taking Basic Pistol isn’t remotely close to being a candidate for a Carry Guard Class. I’m putting together a training program that will include my own basic, intermediate and advanced classes, LTC, NRA PPIH, PPOH and Carry Guard. It will truly be a self-defense academy. (My advanced courses are shoot house courses including force-on-force training.) I also do not expect to have a huge market and many who start the program will not take all of the courses. I have no doubt that for every Carry Guard student I might have, if I’m ultimately a Carry Guard Instructor, I’ll have 50 in my Basic Handgun Skills and Intermediate Handgun Skills courses. That is no reason for the NRA to ignore Members’ requests for advanced level training. It also doesn’t negatively impact my training efforts.
Be creative and leverage the Carry Guard courses into the training you offer. Even if you never get certified for Carry Guard, you can use that as part of your program for teaching people how to survive a deadly attack. Your classes are offered as the foundation for your students ultimately taking Carry Guard courses, whether from you or another instructor.
NRA Online Training Courses
Though not on the current subject, I wanted to respond to a comment about the NRA’s blended/online training courses. The program is being changed in response to NRA instructors’ comments and concerns, not because it wasn’t popular. We had a huge volume of people taking Basic Pistol online. Once again, rank speculation is off the mark.