Online Firearms Classes: To Attempt or Avoid?

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When I was teaching English and communications classes at several college campuses about a decade ago, I took on the added responsibility of teaching some online courses. But I was a bit dumbfounded when one of the classes needed the most was an online speech class.

Yes. A speech class. Online.

You may be asking: “How is that even a speech class?” Believe me: I asked myself the same question. I would argue that many types of classes can be offered online without losing too much of the core messages or lessons … and without completely losing, boring or confounding your students. But honestly, I was not too happy with the structure or the outcome of this particular class.

Though I was unhappy with the structure of the class, I ended up teaching it for about two years. I had hoped to help refine it and make it work better, but I never really felt good about it. I prefer to see and hear students in a speech class. I want them talking and interacting and even sweating and making mistakes in person — in real life! As an online instructor, my methods for checking for true understanding are limited.

Online Firearms Classes

At any rate, my experience as an online instructor, as well as my own involvement taking classes online as a student, made me very wary about online firearms classes. Firearms training is very experiential. It’s meant to be done. It’s meant to be tried. It’s meant to be hands-on. And no matter what your teaching method or learning style might be, getting a firearm in hand and actually manipulating it is the best way to understand it.

Online Firearms Training Cons

Clearly, there are pros and cons — and even some risks involved — to taking some kind of virtual or online firearms class. A few cons would include the limited amount of feedback, the absence of face-to-face interaction with teachers and peers, and the chance that the class doesn’t cover exactly what you need or meet the necessary requirements. For instance, concealed carry permit classes for some states are very specific on the time spent, the topics covered and even the shots fired.

Pros for Online Firearms Training

On the other hand, the pros often include lower costs, ease of use, and the convenience and flexibility of sitting down and learning when you have the time and energy. Some people learn very well in this manner; they are self-directed and self-disciplined. Also, with some classes, the corresponding materials are exceptional, with high-definition graphics, interactive images and high-quality videos or presentations. Some online classes even offer webinars or other opportunities to include live training of some sort.

Pointers to Find the Right Training

If you are hoping to take a firearms class online, you are in luck. Nowadays, there are some really great classes out there from reputable sources (including — you guessed it! — the USCCA!). Do your research to find these classes! Check to see if the costs make sense. Read through the details about any prerequisites or computer/technology requirements. See if there are books or other materials included. Look over the modules offered and the time required. And find out if there are any options or requirements for communicating with an instructor, taking quizzes or even utilizing live online training or Q&A sessions in real time.

Most importantly, make sure the course description and the course objectives fit your expectations and/or your local CCW requirements. Ultimately, quality firearms training is imperative, whether online or otherwise!

About Beth Alcazar

Author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals, associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and creator of the Pacifiers & Peacemakers column, Beth Alcazar has enjoyed nearly two decades of teaching and working in the firearms industry. She holds degrees in language arts, education and communication management and uses her experience and enthusiasm to share safe and responsible firearms ownership and usage with others. Beth is certified through the NRA as a Training Counselor, Chief Range Safety Officer and Certified Instructor for multiple disciplines. She is also a Certified Instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.


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