I spent the last week completing the NRA Law Enforcement Activities Division Patrol Rifle Instructor school at the Volusia County Gun & Hunt Club in New Smyrna Beach, FL. I was fortunate enough to attend on duty, with agency ammunition and equipment. New Smyrna's is close to my house and the commute was easy and against traffic each way.
The facility itself is spacious, but not particularly set up for classes. The set up was exacerbated by the rain for the first four days. The water table is fairly low, and this place is a converted cow pasture. My investment in a pair of duck boots earlier this year was wise. We fought the water and had to modify some of the courses of fire to complete the curriculum. Facility management was not particularly helpful-there was a $75 range fee, payable on Monday. I asked for a receipt and am still waiting. The range officers and operating staff were helpful, but a professionally run place would have been more astute on the business side of things. Updated with the receipt showed up in my email today.
My fellow students were a combination of cops-two from the Keys, one from the west coast of Florida, two from an Indian tribe in South Florida, and one guy who I taught in the academy and works for a local municipality. The rest were from private security services. Everyone was safe, although there were definitely some skill differences. Gear was all AR's-some iron sights, some optics. I didn't see anyone with rifle problems enough to notice. Of note was of the 11 people in the class, five of us were using Boresight Solutions handguns.
The instructor was the best part of the course. Mike Johnson has been with the NRA for well over a decade. He also teaches for Team One (he was my instructor for rangemaster). His full time gig is with the training division of a large Sheriff's office in South Florida (not Broward). Mike is extremely knowledgeable, but manages to convey it without patronizing you. I learned something new every single day of class. I didn't expect that. Whether it's a different way to clear a doublefeed, or using the base of the front sight to beat offset up close, or moving the heel out to stabilize your stance; I got more out of the class than I thought.
The curriculum itself is fairly evenly divided between classroom and trigger time. The classroom was more refreshment that earth-shattering knowledge, but the NRA does provide an excellent manual that serves as a reference book. The trigger time consisted of drills. None of the drills were particularly different that what you do in other carbine classes. The instruction came about with half the class serving as coaches for the other half. As a coach, you were expected to notice what your student was doing wrong or what could be improved and find a way to convey that information to them without being a jerk. Some students were better at that than others.
The qualification course at the end was not particularly difficult, but it is a 100% hit to pass. About half the class failed the first time-I wasn't one of them, but everyone picked it up on the second attempt. We had to present to the class on an assigned topic, and pass a written exam that covered the classroom material presented.
If you're serious about being a patrol rifle instructor, I recommend this class. It's a comprehensive curriculum, supported by the largest gun rights organization in the world. It offers you the opportunity to obtain insurance at the end, and sets requirements for re-certification. Having taken a lot of classes from "name" instructors, I was somewhat skeptical that this was going to be anything more than a week of trigger time for me. I was wrong. I learned a lot, and am glad I went.