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Bad economy affecting demand for training?

Discussion in 'Tactics and Training' started by Jamesey, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. Jamesey


    Jul 1, 2009
    Galt's Gulch
    After years of ducking chips in a machine shop I've toyed with the idea of becoming a firearms instructor. Before I give up a semi-sure career/job I'm wondering if demand for training (and instructors) is diminishing along with the economy. I'm in the southwest corner of the country. Anybody have any insight on the present and/or future demand for firearms training? It's not exactly a necessity like food, shelter, gas. etc.
  2. Gallium

    Gallium CLM

    Mar 26, 2003
    My casual observation, from being an IT provider is; whenever the economy contracts, employee thefts (time, inventory, actual $$$$) rises, and my services are in greater demand (more cameras, more logging software, biometric time clocks, more security on workstations, laptops, etc, more auditing of users etc).

    The rules that apply to my corner of NY will definately not apply in Rochester NY, or Buffalo NY (one of my clients has sattelite sites there)...and neither of those rules would probably work in Your slice of USA heaven.

    Best advice I can give is to be as diversified as possible in your business dealings, and if you make firearms training your mainstay, be prepared to have some very lean months. Remember that there is strength in numbers. If you are a one man show, you have a lot more flexibility, but you're also carrying much more of the load (can't get sick! can't get subpoenaed! can't get called to a 4 week jury trial!)

    To answer your question specifically, if you are a good student, and you are a good instructor, and the rest of your life is equally squared away (organizational skills, book-keeping, people skills, etc) as your ability to shoot/teach, you will not have a problem finding student candidates, no matter the season.

    Best of luck to you, and always try to keep your expectations realistic.


  3. jayfarm

    jayfarm Grumpy Gun Nut

    Jun 11, 2005
    Why would you give up your career?

    I'd say you can do both. I'm a full time employed guy, and I even travel a fair bit for my work. That being said I have a small classroom in my house that I run classes in on weekends about once a month.

    I use any profit gathered from these classes to buy more gun stuff - so it's a nice way to limit how much money I dump into hobbies. If I really want that new optic I need to run a class for X students to have the money.

    At the very least you can start teaching on weekends, line up students, pick your minimums. With only one exception (and he works for the grassroots gun organization, so maybe it doesn't count) every one of the instructors I know also have another job of some sort. Some of them are migrating towards 90% training and 10% other, but none of them just up and jumped 100% trainer.

    That's my take on it, YMMV

  4. Toorop


    Apr 28, 2010
    The Midwest.
    I would not give up a sure thing for this. And to be fair you might need to establish a name for yourself which can take awhile. As well as if you train a lot of people in your local area you may have diminished your customer base. Then you have to start traveling and charging more.

    It is a very hard thing to do. I would try and find a few friends who are interested, and that you trust. Not to mention I would suggest making sure you have good accreditation as well as insurance. You don't want to make yourself liable. Not to mention the cost of good health insurance assuming you have it now.
  5. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    May 4, 2003
    "Giving up a career to become...." tells me that you aren't.

    Don't do it, bad move. There are a ton of part-time instructors teaching basics. There is a solid cadre of BTDT guys teaching advanced and train-the-trainers stuff full time.

    For you to break into the full time gig is a gamble. You might be able to do it, but jumping out of an established career to do it is non-sensical.
  6. Jamesey,

    First not all that many people seek out instructors for either firearms or H2H.

    Notice, if you Google firearms instructors in your state (or city), that while a few names show up you will see that for the population percentage there not many!

    Then you will also notice those that do make a living teaching shooting usually have a 'home' teaching range (when not out traveling as a guest instructor.) That range cost $$. The advertizing to get the name out cost $$. The time it takes to build a reputation and get a loyal base of students takes TIME and $$.

    And when you find a instructor that lives nearby, go see where they live. I doubt they live in a mansion or drive Mercedes cars.

    Yes keep your day job. Especially in this economy. Cause if you quit and later have to work somewhere else when the firearms instructor business gets so tight, you will find out what that term, ‘last hired.. first fired’ means.

    Teaching can be fun and profitable. But unless you have very good financial backing and the willingness to starve sometimes, you will find it a rocky road to go into it full time.

  7. PlasticGuy


    Jul 10, 2000
    First, the bad economy is taking some money away from shooting schools. Second, it's almost impossible to go from not being an instructor to being a full time instructor making decent money in an instant. Instructors usually start out either part time, poorly paid, or both. You gotta pay your dues, just like any other career field.

    That's not to say you shouldn't do it though. I'm just suggesting that you start slow, and wait to quit your day job until you are already established as an instructor.
  8. MTPD


    Nov 9, 2005
    Keep your "real" job and do a little shooting instruction on the side. Maybe it will turn into something, maybe not. Either way you are covered.

    Bear in mind that sooner or later the "O" admin is going to go after guns. Probably sooner. Then what?
  9. Scott 40S&W

    Scott 40S&W

    Oct 4, 2005
    Marietta. GA
    Don't give up a good career or steady income. Work on it in your spare time and build your name. Get more certifications to teach different disciplines. I have been teaching and building credentials for the past 8 years The last 3 it has paid off. Nobody pays instructors very much. You mentioned machinist work, most experienced machinst make way more than an firearms instructor. I know for a fact what SIG Academy and Suarez International pay and you would be better of making metal chips.
  10. threefeathers

    threefeathers Scouts Out

    Oct 23, 2008
    Good advice here. Keep your job and become an NRA instructor, it will give you much expereince.
    Then you must get a name and reputation by attending some well known schools, such as the Firearm's Academy of Seattle, Mas Ayoob's MAG40, Rob Pincus's training, etc. You will learn much and make friends woth folks who can help.
    If you are military volunteer for a combat zone.
    If you are not become a reserve Deputy.
    Train, train, train form recognized legitimate schools and network.

    I'm lucky, I retired from the Army as a firearms instructor with all of the expereinces needed. Then attended all of Ayoob's schools, then trained with Marty Hayes, and Don Stallnecker of FAS.

    I teach the intensive firearms classes at Ft. Huachuca and now am a member of ILEETA and will begin to travel to border town police departments to teach.

    Then after all else, get several Glocks and you are golf tango golf.:cool:
  11. You know threefeathers... I see so many Glocks in the holsters of instructors. And we both know why... they just work everytime! And the one thing you don't want happening while teaching is for you to look bad. And having a jam-a-mattic makes you look bad!

  12. jack76590


    Aug 15, 2004
    A lot of people, who have a hobby they love, think about making it a career paying job.

    A few make the transition and are happy. But most, I believe, find it hard to make a decent living or a living at all, unless they have independent income or a pension. And unfortunately a hobby once it becomes a job is often not as much fun as it was previously.
  13. PlasticGuy


    Jul 10, 2000
    That's not fair. Jeff Cooper, Larry Vickers, and Clint Smith are some of the best known and most respected trainers of all time. None carry/carried a Glock. While there is an element of truth to your post, it's not nearly that simple.
  14. fastbolt


    Jun 9, 2002
    CA Central Coast
    Yes, the economy has impacted the firearms training market. Looking at the sparsity dollars available at the agency level for outside firearms training, and the number of previously 'active' firearms classes on the CA POST web site which haven't been held for some time, it's easy to see that dwindling training dollars are no longer being spent on a lot of firearms training ... not the degree enjoyed in the last several years, at any rate.

    Quitting a full-time job to become a firearms instructor is probably about as wise as quitting a good job in order to become a rock star just because someone enjoys playing a musical instrument with friends in a garage in the evenings or on the weekends.

    There's a LOT of folks trying to hang out their shingles and promote themselves as firearms & tactics instructors.

    This reminds me of when the idea of starting your own dojo was popular among martial arts people in the early 70's. There was seemingly no shortage of folks renting some niche of office or warehouse space and starting their own dojo, training hall, academy, whatever. The experience and qualifications of the folks seemed as variable as the success of their enterprise. Not many of them survived. Nowadays we've seen yet another in the cycles of such schools, this time capitalizing on the BJJ, MMA, UFO, etc venues. Once again, it's easy to see how some businesses seem to make it, but much more of them fade away without notice.

    If you're not in LE/Gov work, becoming introduced to the firearms training field via the NRA is probably a good idea. You can see the training activity and how NRA instructors may, or may not, make significant income (or are able to do it as their sole source of income).

    The better known names in the LE/Gov training field, taught by active & retired LE/Military folks ... and which aren't necessarily limited to those names well known among the non-LE folks who participate in internet firearms forums :whistling: ... often have to travel quite a bit in order to find their target audiences.

    Then, there's the issue of teaching within what an agency may expect taught to its people (versus what you may feel is appropriate to teach, or simply desire to teach), from a liability perspective, and perhaps being called upon to testify should a 'student' use what was taught during a training venue. (Hopefully it isn't contrary to agency GO's, policies, procedures or established best practices. ;) ) Entering the liability loop bears some consideration.

    As a LE firearms instructor (and having attended a basic instructor school which involved the participation of the FBI), my agency covered me when it came to liability exposure, as long as I remained within the course and scope of what they desired taught. While I've kept my hand in the training venue since my retirement, I've only done so within the LE agency context, by invitation and request, and haven't really been interested in forming a LLC to take my show on the road. I get enough satisfaction out of remaining a resource and helping teach lesser experienced instructors and armorers.

    What does your family think of this idea, BTW?

    Personally, if I had it to do over again, I'd rather have been a rock star.

    I'm just glad I didn't go commercial after having taught in one of the karate/self defense schools of the early 70's. :rofl: That way I could choose my private students with care, looking for qualities in a potential student that didn't involve asking about their back account. I realized I wouldn't enjoy operating a business just to attract students and be able to pay the rent and other bills.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010