Choosing And Finding A NRA Basic Pistol Course

If you are serious about owning a gun, then you need to know how to use it – safely! Some states actually require you to complete a handgun safety course if you want to own a handgun (if you want to see more about handgun laws in different states, have a look at our comparison of state gun laws). A good way to achieve that is to start off by doing a NRA basic pistol course. The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is an American non-profit organization which advocates for gun rights.

NRA basic pistol course

NRA Basic Pistol Course – What Is It?

The NRA offer many safety and operating courses for firearms of various types (click here to see their course catalogue), one which is the NRA basic pistol course. The basic pistol course teaches the basic knowledge, skills, and attitude for owning and operating a pistol safely. It is 8 hours in duration, which includes both classroom time and range time.

The NRA basic pistol course aims to teach students the following:

  1. NRA’s rules for safe gun handling
  2. Pistol parts and operation; ammunition
  3. Shooting fundamentals
  4. Range rules
  5. Shooting from the bench rest position, and two handed standing positions
  6. Cleaning the pistol
  7. Continued opportunities for skill development

As part of the course, students will receive the following:

  • NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting handbook
  • NRA Gun Safety Rules brochure
  • Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification booklet

At the end of the course students are to complete a Basics of Pistol Shooting Student Examination, and upon successful completion of this examination will be awarded a course completion certificate.

Choosing a NRA Basic Pistol Course Provider

If you want to get the NRA basic pistol course certificate, you will need to take the course from a instructor that has been certified by the NRA as a qualified instructor. The easiest and best way to find a certified instructor is to use the NRA website’s search tool to search for certified instructors in your area. Do use that search tool, use this link:

For instance, if you’re looking for a basic pistol course within 25 miles of your home, simply input your zip code, select the courses that you’re interested in and start the search engine. You’ll be given a list of available courses in your area with full descriptions of the cost, starting date for the class, a short description of what the course entails, contact information for additional questions and more. You’ll also be given a link to Google Maps showing the location of the class to allow you to get quick and easy directions if you choose that particular course.

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Course

When you weigh up your options for choosing a instructor, we recommend you keep a few things in mind:

  • Will you be instructed in a large group/small group/one-on-one – Smaller groups and one-on-one sessions will mean the instructor will be able to give you much more focused attention and help you sort out any issues you may have,
  • Will they provide you with ammunition in the range shooting portion of the course as part of their fee. If not, are there limitations on what ammo and weapons you may use in the course.
  • What experience do they have as instructors – Have they been instructing users for years or have they popped up recently?
  • What do others have to say about them – Have some of your friends used the instructor? Does your local gun shop or gun club know/recommend them? Are there reviews online about them? It might be very useful to do a search on the Internet about the instructor before signing up to a course.


Doing the NRA basic pistol course is a great way to become a responsible and safe gun owner. Be sure to select a certified instructor that can provide you a quality course!

We hope this helped you navigate your way through some of the questions you may have had about finding and choosing a NRA basic pistol course. If you have any opinions or tips for others, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments sections below.