I know most of you are aware that the National Sporting Clays Association has offered an instructor training program for the last several years. Hopefully, many of you have taken a lesson from one of our instructors and have become a better shot because of it. The NSCA Instructor School was formed in 1989 and held the first Level I class in early August of that year. Chief Instructor. Ed Scherer and my good friend Henry Burns held that school at headquarters and certified us to teach only new or beginning shooters. The Level I certification is the same today.
If my memory serves me right, that first school had fourteen candidates. I am very proud to say that I was in that first group. I am not totally sure why I signed up for the school. I never intended to become a full time instructor. Maybe one of the things that possessed me to take that first step was that I was tired of watching so many new people try our sport once or twice and never come back. One of the things that I noted was new people were not having fun. I am sure all of you will agree that missing is not fun. The fun of shooting clay targets for a new shooter is watching the target turn to dust as the shot string rips it apart. I believe there is a feeling of power and accomplishment when a new shooter achieves that first goal and this feeling becomes addictive.
The first Level II school was held at headquarters, two years later. Today our Level I Instructors must have at least two hundred hours of instructional experience before they can take this part of the program. Level II was created to help those instructors who wanted to be able to help more experienced intermediate shooters. John Higgins an Englishman, had been hired by NSCA to continue the program and bring the English method of shooting to our association. Again, I am not quite sure why I signed up for this next level. Some of my friends said it was ego and I guess they could have been right, although I really enjoyed teaching all the new people that had started coming out to the club. I could see that many of these new people were actually having fun and continuing to shoot. There is no better feeling for a coach than watching the face of a new shooter when he or she breaks their first target. The smiles, the laughter and bubbling enthusiasm really winds my clock. I have to thank John Higgins for all of the encouragement he gave me while he was head of the program. John carried my own enthusiasm to a higher level. He also motivated me to become a better shooter myself and gave me the knowledge to do so.
The first Level III school was held several years later. While I was very happy to be in the first Level I and the first Level II schools. I wasn't exactly sure about trying to obtain a Level III certificate. In fact, I waited until the third Level III class was offered before I signed up because I felt I did not have enough experience to pass this part of the program. If it had not been for Gary Greenway, who I consider my coach, I would probably never have taken my Level III.
Level III is not for everyone. This level of the program is meant for those people who want to teach for a living. To qualify for this part of the program, and instructor must have at least 1500 clock hours of actual teaching experience. I have had many people ask me why it takes so many hours before NSCA will let an instructor take Level III. My answer is always the same. "Without this kind of experience it would be very hard to pass this class." This level also takes five days of intense training and only a committed professional instructor should consider talking this part of the program. An NSCA Level III Instructor should be the best and most experienced instructor in the program. This level of instructor is qualified to teach all levels of shooters. A Level III Instructor is really more of a coach than an instructor. This instructor should be able to help any shooter fine tune their game and pick up that one extra target that it takes to win. You may have noticed that the one thing the NSCA requires an instructor must have, to advance to the next level, is experience. Without this experience the program would not work.
Now back to the question of who should consider becoming an NSCA Instructor. I believe the answer is anyone and everyone. As in my case, I never intended to become a full time instructor. I believe I just wanted to help new shooters enjoy our sort and possibly help my own shooting. When I look back I believe that more than half of all of the people who have taken Level I did so for same reason. Is there anything wrong with this? In my opinion, no. I believe one of the things that has made our sport grow is that we have many people at many clubs across the nation that can help a new shooter learn the right way to shoot clay targets. What's wrong with that? You don't have to be paid to be a good instructor.
I have also heard that an instructor who is a C class shooter could not possible know enough to be a good instructor. Well folks, a good C class shooter who has taken the time to learn the basics of shooting can help any new person that is interested in the clay target sports. All instructors don't have to be world class. In fact, most are not. I personally believe that the Level I Instructor is the heart of our program. They are the front line, the instructor that keeps new people breaking targets. I also believe that if it were not for our Level I and Level II Instructors those world class instructors, including our own Level IIIs, would not have as many clients.
When I first started teaching, taking shooting lessons was not the "in" thing to do. Today taking a lesson is the norm. I personally want to thank all of those people who were dedicated enough to take the time and spend the money to become a certified NSCA Instructor. You have helped the sport in ways that most people will never know.
For those of you who have thought about taking the NSCA Instructor
Program, give Glynne Moseley at headquarters a call. Her number is 210
688-3371 ext. 119. You may also contact me at 915 651-7810 or e-mail me
Reprinted with permission of the author, January 29, 2001.