Important Update Regarding the BFS Approved Course Roster and the NRA Training Department
By Jon Green – GOAL Director of Education
GOAL has received many inquiries regarding the NRA’s new pistol course and the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) Approved Basic Firearm Safety (BFS) course roster. The GOAL staff has been in communication with Lt. Al Zani of the MSP and various staff at the NRA Training Department. The NRA released their new Basics of Pistol Shooting course this past spring. This course is vastly different from the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting course that was approved by the Colonel of the Massachusetts State Police as LTC-002 in 1998.
The new Basics of Pistol Shooting course utilizes the NRA’s concept of “blended learning”. This requires an individual that wishes to earn an NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course certificate to take an online course known as Phase I. The cost of Phase I is $60. Upon successful completion of Phase I, the student then contacts an NRA certified Basic Pistol Instructor who can then administer Phase II of the Basics of Pistol Shooting course. Phase II requires the student to participate in various exercises that include unloading, loading, cleaning and marksmanship test all while under the supervision of the NRA Instructor. The cost of Phase II is determined by the Instructor.
The State Police has stated that the new NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course is not yet approved as a BFS course. MSP BFS Instructors that are administering Phase II and providing a MSP BFS certificate appear to be in violation of Chapter 140 § 131P and 515 CMR 3.00.
The aforementioned statute and regulation require approved courses to include in their curriculum the “applicable laws relating to the possession, transportation and storage of firearms”. The NRA has stated that their Certified Instructors are not authorized by the NRA to teach various state and federal gun law. They have also stated that Instructors should teach the particular NRA course in its entirety before or after meeting any various state requirements.
GOAL would also like to point out that 515 CMR 3.05 (2.)(b) states, “Certain BFS course curriculums do not contain a firearms related law component. Such curriculums can still meet Department of State Police curriculum criteria by utilizing guest speakers familiar with firearms laws or by utilizing or distributing to its students written informational pamphlets/books/videos by an entity familiar with firearms laws to cover that portion of the course”. All of the NRA currently approved BFS courses utilize this section of the regulation as does the MA Hunter Education program.
GOAL contacted the NRA Training Department several months ago and advised both John Howard and Bill Poole that the new course would need to be submitted to the Colonel of the MSP for consideration as an approved safety course. We provided them with the applicable sections of law and regulation. We also provided information on MA gun laws that would help to ensure that their new course would be approved. The NRA has decided not to make any changes, additions or exceptions in order for the new Basics of Pistol Shooting course to become approved as a BFS course.
GOAL, along with several other Massachusetts NRA Instructors, asked the NRA Training Department if they would allow us to continue teaching the MSP approved LTC-002 NRA Basic Pistol Shooting course. Unfortunately the answer is a resounding no. GOAL is extremely disappointed with the NRA and their exclusiveness regarding this matter. GOAL has ceased offering the NRA Instructor Course for the Phase II Basics of Pistol Shooting course until this matter is resolved.