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Editorial: NRA Carry Guard Training vs. “Standard” Training

July 22, 2017




The National Rifle Association has a new training program associated with their Carry Guard insurance product. The NRA touts their instructors as former Navy SEALS or other high-speed, low-drag type operators. Of course, the NRA promises "The best carry firearms training on the planet. Period." Not that the NRA has ever been accused of excessive hype, but has the gun rights org created the best firearms training on the planet? Time will tell.

I've been a firearms instructor for twenty years. My fellow instructors and I teach everyday Americans how to safely and effectively use firearms for self-defense. Over the years, we've taught defensive shooting skills to thousands of adults in the civilian world.

My own learning has never stopped. In my time, I've been to a couple of dozen classes from nationally known instructors, recognized by many as the best of the best. Ayoob, Rogers, Farnam and Tarani just to name a few.

I've observed trainers both good and bad over the years. I've worked to lure some of the best ones onto our training team and I've seen some sad excuses for instructors, too. Sadly, some are not only incompetent, but also unscrupulous enough to sign off on fraudulent training certificates.


The NRA's Carry Guard classes may indeed be the best firearms training on the planet. I have my doubts, though. The NRA's (or their PR firm's) decision to promote their program as the product of cops and vets is worrying.

Generally, I have nothing but respect for people in law enforcement and military. But what difference does it make whether an instructor learned their skills on the mean streets of Oakland or were "taught downrange" in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Far more important: can the instructor communicate the fundamentals effectively to everyday people, empowering them with the skills they need to avoid becoming a statistic.

Civilian self defense classes aren't about teaching students how to kick in doors to hunt the Crips or the Taliban. We teach civilians the strategies and skills, including firearms proficiency, to avoid victimization in their daily lives. These skills and tactics will give them every advantage if the worst happens and they have to use their gun to protect innocent life.

While SEALs and SWAT cops might be great at killing people and apprehending criminals respectively, that's not what civilians need to learn.  We don't go forth each day, sans body armor, radios and the best long-guns and gear available to go after bad guys and gals.  Instead, we live our lives looking to avoid trouble.

Track record?

While the NRA has created plenty of hype about the new training program, Carry Guard has zero proven track record of teaching civilians yet. Their instructors have an unspecified number of years teaching civilians self-defense. What's more, legal considerations don't even merit a mention in the Carry Guard course description

My advice to The People of The Gun: before succumbing to the marketing pitch of this brand new, uber-hyped, super-expensive training program, sit it one out for a while. Read reviews of Carry Guard's training to see if the course merits your time and hard-earned cash.

If Carry Guard training proves itself worthy of the title "best on the planet," word will travel fast. If it turns out to be like the NRA's "blended learning" debacle introduced a couple of years ago, word of that will travel just as fast.

Meanwhile, if you want the very best, I recommend Masaad Ayoob's 40-hour MAG-40 class. To this day, I believe it stands as the best handgun training in the nation for civilians. Ayoob, a former cop, remains one of the best instructors in America. For $800, his four-day class has a thirty-plus year proven track record of excellence.

Ayoob's shooting curriculum and his authorized instructors are among the best. The extensive legal lectures in Ayoob's class set it far apart from any firearm training course I've ever experienced. If, God forbid, the worst happens, Ayoob teaches his students how to manage the aftermath of a deadly force encounter.

Go, get your training and stay safe.  You can get your gun education at the Harvard School of Business… or your local community college.  While there's no difference in the fundamentals each teach, there's certainly a difference in tuition and travel time to get there.

7 Responses to Editorial: NRA Carry Guard Training vs. “Standard” Training

  1. Dan on July 22, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Good summary, John. I came to the same conclusion after receiving/reading Carry Guard information provided by the NRA. Time will tell. 

  2. Bill1 on July 22, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    The NRA's new Guard training is based on tactical offensive training.

    The training received by CC holders is self-defense training.


    Teaching tactical offensive training to the average CC holder could backfire. 

    I'm not saying I am against this form of training but it takes a level of discipline the average guy/gal on the street does not have. That discipline requires hours upon hours of training over several years. 

  3. Sam Whittemore on July 22, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Carry Guard?  So I can carry my pistol like I'm one of Charlie's Angels like the guy in the top photo?  Mmm hmmm.

    I'm an old man.  I feel pretty good about the training I got from farmers, lawyers, IT people, engineers, and other everyday people.  They (GSL's Defense Trainging) did a great job for me and my wife.  She loved it.  I did too.

    But what do I know?  They didn't teach me to hold my gun like I was one of Charlie's Angels. In fact, they counseled against it.  They didn't teach it to my wife either.

    I feel cheated.

  4. JM on July 23, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    I'm another one in the "civilian training is completely different from police/military training" camp.   I've learned from both, but the GLS DT classes, taught by every day citizens who have great skills along with the ability to pass those skills on to other civilians was much more effective than any police training I've received.  It's a different midset, different focus.  And their "Critical Incident Response" training is the best I've ever seen.

    I'll stay with the proven civilian trainers with a track record.  Which reminds me, it's mid year and I haven't taken a refresher class this year.   Time to make sure I can get on someone's schedule.

    After the NRA's last training screw-up, I'm also wary of their new programs that seem to be designed more for marketing than training.   Eventually we'll see.



  5. Dyspeptic Skeptic on July 24, 2017 at 11:56 am

    $850 for 3 days of training?

    And no legal?

    I will pass.



  6. FunFAL on July 24, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Waiting for some written reviews.  All this hype doesn't impress me.  It is like they are marketing the latest snake oil vitamin or something.

  7. DM on July 28, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I'm concerned with how the NRA has taken long time friends and allies (NRA Instructors, Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network, USCCA) and seemingly turned on them. 

    Is Carry Guard just a money grab?