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Announcing The Creation Of The Firearms Trainers Association

The state of firearms training in the United States is a mess and does not further the interests of law abiding firearms enthusiasts. Perception of firearms enthusiasts is so crucial to our civil rights provided in the 2nd Amendment. However, the unregulated internet world of posting videos and attempting to obtain celebrity through inappropriate tactics, ill founded curriculum, lack of safety and unprofessionalism highlights the need for creation of an organization that protects and professionalizes the profession of Firearms Trainers, in an apolitical way.

Therefore, we are proud to announce the formation of the Firearms Trainers Association, The FTA is an organization founded by 5 of the most well respected and distinguished professional firearms trainers in the world. Ken Hackathorn-Chairman, Larry Vickers-Vice Chairman, and Board members Jeff Gonzales, Dave Spaulding and Scott Reidy have worked with 2A Association Management and Executive Director Kyle Sweet, to create for the first time, an organization delivering national standards for firearms trainers, protecting the profession of firearms training through standards, insurance (professional liability and property and casualty), business development services, curriculum certification, safety and risk management. The Board members have decades of training experience in military and law enforcement and have dedicated their professional lives to training all levels of civilians. Their recognition of the need to create a mechanism to serve the interests of firearms trainers as well as increase the professionalism of the profession through their experiences, resources and core values lead them to create FTA.

Firearms Trainers Association will provide content that has been vetted, is reliable and trustworthy in addition to being tactically sound. FTA, operating with the the hashtag #ProtectingtheProfession will provide three levels of membership to firearms trainers based on the extent of their teaching and career in the industry. FTA will serve as the industry leader in providing professional development to trainers through resources, networking, marketing assistance (including joint marketing initiatives), web content consulting, video safety briefings from Board Members, and legal forms for Waivers of Liability, and other business related forms as well as use of the FTA logo in marketing and training materials. A comprehensive suite of insurance services are provided with each membership. Certificates of Insurance are available to all members when needing them for conducting classes. Insurance is provided to the FTA through 2A Insurance, a Captive Insurance company reinsured through Port Royal Captive Re-Insurance. FTA has established for it’s members the only stable insurance in the firearms industry available to trainers. This insurance is not subject to political changes, protest or tragic event. It exists for the purpose of protecting the interests of it’s firearms associations.

Level 1: Instructor: this level is for members who teach an occasional class such as Self Defense Act courses to license individuals for a concealed carry permit. NRA basic instructors who teach occasionally.

Level 2: Teacher: This level is for those teaching classes regularly, has had more advanced training themselves and possesses more advanced certifications. Someone who teaches classes beyond mere concealed carry classes, such as tactics, but does not do this for a living.

Level 3: Professional: someone with significant advanced training from military, law enforcement or significant civilian firearms training who is a firearms trainer for a living. The Professional level of membership will require peer reviewed acceptance by the 5 Founders.

All memberships are priced at $400. Payment online is available at For those who are not trainers and do not need the insurance for a trainer but want access to the content, and support the mission to create standards for trainers and training, an auxiliary membership is available for $100 per year. Support Members will have access to all content and information of all levels of membership.

For more information or access to Board members for media inquiries and interviews please contact Kyle Sweet at 405-684-0900 or e-mail


40 Responses to “Announcing The Creation Of The Firearms Trainers Association”

  1. JM Gavin says:

    This is going to spark a massive internet fight. I’ve got my popcorn ready.

    • Seamus says:

      I brought chips and salsa!,

      Hell you can make it drinking game and do a shot every time someone mentions: Serpa holsters, James Yeager, Voda consulting, Center Axis Relock, Instructor Zero, Cory and Erika, Doomsday Preppers, Tex Grebner,or FPS Russia.

  2. Tank says:

    I like the idea of having a credential, or mark of authenticity for tactical trainers, especially in the current flooded firearms market. However was the idea envisioned by a group, such as the NRA, and the FTA staff approached about this business venture? It would strike me as odd if the FTA members themselves envisioned the credentialing system and decided that they were the authority to certify individuals. Of course all the FTA staff are world renowned shooters and recognized professionals, but if they develop the new “gold standard” and create a pay-to-play system of certification, doesn’t this ostracize individuals who don’t want the certification or don’t have the same tactical/firearms ideology? Many trainers will jump at the chance to show off this new certification to be seen as “legit,” while others who don’t get it will undoubtedly be lumped into a group of uncertified wannabe trainers.

    The article says that the FTA will look at tactical/firearms training to determine what is “vetted, is reliable and trustworthy in addition to being tactically sound.” Again, I am not disagreeing with this idea, but are the FTA staff willing to accept new forms of training and new techniques that they are unfamiliar with or unaccustomed to? I’m not personally attacking any of the FTA staff, but merely pointing out that this could be a “our way, or no way” kind of situation where new techniques and training are cast aside for the traditional, old school, or popular. I would hope that with the caliber of staff the FTA had gathered, that they would be receptive to new ideas and techniques and are not above reproach.

    I hope this works out and some of the crazy off the wall antics from Youtube and wannabe operator types fade away, but remain weary of a company comprised of 5 members that is determining the certification standards for an entire country of trainers and students.

    • Joe says:

      All valid points. Vickers and Hackathorn are two men who write off the “Roland Special” regardless of it’s origin…are we going to see Presscheck Consulting denied certification because LAV and Ken H don’t like the baby Chuck made?

      • CVPD167 says:

        The fella who drunkenly shot his brother-in-law? I don’t think the gun design is what would keep him from getting vetted…

        • Bobby D says:

          You are right, but Joe’s making a good point. The “5 Founders” (give me a break) have to bless off on a trainer before he or she can be considered “Level 3”.

          We all know LAV is cantankerous and seems to hold a grudge. “Stay in your lane” ring a bell? Is he going to be blackballng those he doesn’t like personally?

          In the end, I don’t think it will matter. The market place sorts out trainers. It may take some time but it eventually does. If you are a big enough dope to spend money with some of the questionable instructors, the the lack of a FTA designation wouldn’t matter anyway.

        • d says:

          I suppose that incident cancels out everything else he’s done in his life? Quit making the internet worse.

          • CVPD167 says:

            In regards to potential membership in this organization, it may very well. A big draw, it would seem, is stable insurance. I’m not maligning him as I don’t personally know him, I’m saying his creation may or may not be the main point of contention.

      • Geoff says:

        After speaking with a couple guys who worked at or with the the highest levels, I’m not sure many at that level still give Vickers much regard to begin with.

        I can’t help but see this as the previous generation struggling to stay relevant in current times.

  3. Will Rodriguez says:

    Interesting concept.

    Would love to see more details and read up on the company but the site is just giving me Latin looking gibberish.

    It would have been nice to pick a different acronym than FTA. As Army vets, I’m surprised they didn’t catch that.

  4. Hubb says:

    As a former military member and currently a civilian concealed carry practitioner, I don’t have a problem with a free association of firearms instructors voluntarily joining together to raise the bar on firearm instruction.

    I am hoping that the gun control crowd and the federal, state, and local governments do not try to get involved. They will try to kill the firearms training industry with regulations, insurance, and licensing.

  5. Arrow 4 says:

    Put me in the skeptical column. I understand the desire to raise standards in the profession and it’s a worthy idea, but in practical terms I don’t like the idea of a relatively small group of (albeit elite) trainers deciding who should be certified and what course material gets blessed. As a trainer, I am not inclined to voluntarily give the course material I have spent years developing over to someone else just to see if they like me or my methods of training. All trainers inherently develop a reputation, good or bad and have to live with that reputation. I am also not sure how any of this is going to reduce the number of illegitimate instructors out there today. As with anything else, it is up to the consumer research the product, in this case instructor they wish to training with.

  6. AJ says:

    The old saying ” The road to hell is paved with good intentions” comes to mind reading the mission objectives of this new accreditation group . The phrase that states ” Professional Level ….. reviewed acceptance by the 5 founders ” sends shivers to my spine . I have the utmost respect and admiration for these individuals for both their service and contributions to the industry as a whole. I personally have trained with LAV and the lessons he has imparted remain the very fundamentals of my skill sets as a civilian shooter.

    However this positioning may enrage the rest of the firearms community as skill sets and tactics are developed organically and an imposition of a set of standards formulated by only a few people no matter their standing in the industry may be more harmful and hurtful to both industry and its consumers.

  7. Justin says:

    So 5 self proclaimed experts are going to dictate what is vetted and what isn’t based on….their opinion? Holy ego Batman.

    • SSD says:

      Umm, these guys actually are experts. Go look them up.

      • Justin says:

        I’m aware of who they are. But when a small group of people decide they get to be the ones to decide what is good information and what is bad information is a great way to create an echo chamber where new information is cast out because it doesn’t meet their particular world view. It’s dangerous to the free exchange of ideas.

    • Bill says:

      They experts in the field. Few can match, backgrounds, skill sets, and teaching skills. What an odd argument

  8. Erin says:

    I like the intent.

    That said, this is rife with potential issues brought up in preceding comments. Ideally I would hope they approach the training curriculum with a foundational mindset and leave all the high speed shit to the pros to play with. Trainers dont need to be teaching advanced techniques as some sort of doctrine. We all know there are basic foundational elements that are indisputable, keep it to a standard anyone with firearms experience would agree with. The best instructors know they don’t know everything or that something new might be better.

  9. Resurgens6 says:

    This will undoubtedly cause heartburn within the firearms community. That being said, i do believe this industry does need a professional association. Bar Association, American medical association, national association of realtors, just about every profession/trade that takes itself seriously has a professional association (and yes they all cost money to join). I dont know if this particular organization will be the right answer, but maybe its at least a step in the right direction. Only time will tell. What i do know is that in the current climate, having a professional organization will lend some legitimacy and credence to the firearms industry. Theres nothing wrong with having an organization establish and enforce professional standards as long as there are avenues available to introduce new techniques and ideas. The medical profession is probably the best model to compare. There are established practices for various procedures and when a surgeon wants to do something new, they have to explain it and then its peer reviewed. i dont know if any industry has ever suffered by becoming more professional and organized.

    • Arrow 4 says:

      I don’t disagree with you, but there are other organizations such as the NRA, NTOA, ILEFIA, CATO, TTPOA and many others.

  10. Tank says:

    I agree that professional structure is good, but the American Medical Association that you cited has over 500 members in their policy making body, the House of Delegates. This ensures that everyone across the country is represented fairly and reduces bias. FTA has, thus far, a 5 member board that is to certify and determine legitimacy of nation wide instructors and shooting programs. Clearly the American Medical Association structure of policy making and FTA have stark differences.

  11. Joseph Kibler says:

    This already exists in a way via Primary & Secondary.

  12. Patrick Aherne says:

    Can Larry pay my $400 because I’ve spent a shit-ton of money training with him? Yeah, I’m not impressed.

  13. Mike says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. I tend to think the free market works these kinds of things out. I don’t see how having this organization is going to stop some of the bad training you see posted all over the “unregulated” internet.

    It also doesn’t make a trainer a bad trainer if they opt not to participate in this association.

    I went to the web site and it is not even complete. Most of the pages are still placeholder text and not complete. Not starting off with a professional look.

    • TominVA says:

      Right, I saw the website too. Definitely not ready for prime time.

      Gosh there’s a lot of questions. The whole “peer review” thing? Pretty vague. The professional experience and reputation of the five notwithstanding, it suggests or at least provides the opportunity for highly parochial approach, maybe a bit of cronyism too..

      I would think there need to be at least some clearly articulated standards e.g., Gunsite 250, 350, 499, number of years as instructor for law enforcement, and so on. Plus, some sort of annual training / schooling requirement to ensure people stay current within their scope of practice.

      I don’t dispute the need for such and organization, but based on the information provided, this isn’t it…yet.

  14. Darkhorse says:

    If a company is certified as “Pro”- is there a basic level requirement for those seeking instruction from a “pro”?

    Can an OTC washout/graduate be categorized as a “pro” because of the high level of training he’s received in the military? What if he came from a mechanical MOS?

    How quickly does someone become a “pro”? Is it automatic if they’re already at that level but not blessed off on by the founders?

    Can any person with zero skills show up and be trained by a “pro”? Are they then at “pro” level skillzmaster operator too?

    It would seem that if this was implemented, it was also be a mechanism to rate those seeking “pro” level training.

    Who revokes someone’s status? Clearly Pressburg should have his status revoked if he ever was a “pro”. Who rules on this? The founders? How long until he’s reinstated? Does that mean he couldn’t teach for xxx number of days or just not at “pro” level?

    Do the founders take a course from one of the companies seeking “pro” certification so that they hear/see firsthand how they conduct themselves?

    What they’re trying to implement pretty much already exists. Companies that are legit “pros” are already vetted and training police, military, and other govt organizations.

    I agree that to the average shooting enthusiast, the market is inundated by riffraff and even people who claim something that they’re not. I’m just not convinced that this is the way to accomplish their intent.

    • Andrew says:

      Best post here so far. Well said.

    • Seamus says:

      Well this fledgling organization certainly needs by-laws. But just like every other fledgling organization it starts out small and grows and new rules and standards and lessons learned over time. It seems that what this organization needs most of all are members and some sort of voting mechanism to sort those by-laws out.

      As for the individuals (5 founders) I have no issue with them, but what about in 10 or 20 years, who will be the next people to validate the training, how will they be chosen?

      IMHO this is sorely needed, especially for the average joe to sort honest quality training from snake-oil sales men. However this organization also seems to be a rough concept and needs some finer policy details hashed out. Hopefully common sense will prevail and the gun-tube will not burn to the ground.

  15. Steve Kelsay says:

    I am not impressed with the fee without asking some questions:

    Does the fee include the insurance? How much coverage? What does it cover? Who else carries that insurance?

    I am always looking for additional credentials verifying what I do, but the marketplace will accomplish everything.

    What would membership give me in the we of support/supporting materials?

    Before I drop Ciarello insurance, I need to know more.

  16. Dennis says:

    $400 a year? Does that include the insurance?

  17. Bryan says:

    Bottom line, it’s all about the money sweetheart!

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