How to Choose a Michigan CPL Course Instructor

November 2, 2020
How to Choose a Michigan CPL Course Instructor

So you’re contemplating applying for a Michigan concealed pistol license (CPL)? You’ll be joining almost 20 million Americans, as of 2019, who are licensed to carry concealed firearms (and other weapons) for personal defense.

It is highly recommended that you research both CPL requirements and certified instructors — don’t assume that you’re ready because you have a piece of signed paper in your hand.

Michigan CPL Requirements

The state of Michigan is a “shall issue” state. That means if you meet certain requirements when you apply for a concealed pistol license, the state shall issue you a license. The issuing authority has no power to decline your application arbitrarily.

You must be at least 21 years of age, a resident of Michigan (with a few exceptions), not disqualified from possessing firearms — e.g., not a convicted felon — and know how to use and handle a pistol safely. This latter point will be evidenced by your having completed a pistol safety or training program. You’ll also have to pay an application and licensing fee of $100 to the county clerk.

Pistol Safety or Training Program

Both the training program and the CPL Course instructor must be certified by the state of Michigan or another state or national training organization, such as the NRA. The course must consist of at least 8 hours of instruction — 5 hours in the classroom and 3 hours on the firing range. You’ll need to fire at least 30 rounds of ammunition during the range session.

The training program must cover the following topics, quoted here verbatim:

  • The safe storage, use, and handling of a pistol including, but not limited to, safe storage, use, and handling to protect child safety.
  • Ammunition knowledge and the fundamentals of pistol shooting.
  • Pistol shooting positions.
  • Firearms and the law, including civil liability issues and the use of deadly force. This portion must be taught by an attorney or an individual trained in the use of deadly force.
  • Avoiding criminal attack and controlling a violent confrontation.
  • All laws that apply to carrying a concealed pistol in this state.

Upon completing the training program, the CPL Course instructor should issue you a certificate bearing his handwritten signature.

What to Look for in an Instructor

You should inquire about the instructor’s training — has he/she taught classes at defensive shooting schools or attended them as a student? What did he learn from that experience? Ask the instructor what he intends to teach you. Can he provide you with the kind of hands-on tactical training that would provide you with a foundation on which to build your skills?

His being a lifelong hunter, or having completed a hunter safety course, won’t cut it. That kind of experience may be invaluable, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that he can advise you regarding selecting a suitable defensive firearm and ammunition or using deadly force in self-defense — either legally or practically.

After all, you are applying for a CPL to be better prepared to defend your own life or the life of another.

The instructor’s role as a former or current police officer doesn’t automatically mean that he’s drawn his weapon in the line of duty. An instructor having a military background is not a guarantee that he has experience with either handguns or concealed carry — not every service member is issued a sidearm.

You need an instructor who understands that the tactics, manner of dress, and kydex holsters design required for concealed carry demand special attention.

CPL Course Instructor


According to Michigan’s CPL requirements, you’ll need to fire at least 30 rounds of ammunition during a 3-hour (minimum) range session. Therefore, you should find out what kind of firing range your prospective firearms instructor intends to use.

Does he use a purpose-built or improvised firing range? Does it have an adequate backstop/berm? How difficult is it to drive to? What should you bring with you?

After the Course

If you have follow-up questions, you should know whether you can contact the instructor. You should leave the course feeling confident that you understand Michigan’s deadly-force statutes, laws regarding where you can and can’t carry, and how to safely and correctly handle, store, and transport your firearm.

While firing 30 rounds may be sufficient to achieve a passing qualification and show that you know how the gun functions, it won’t prepare you for real-world self-defense scenarios. Your firearms training doesn’t end with an instructor certificate. As with any skill, practice is an essential part of both development and maintenance.

You can do this without spending money on ammunition and range fees, too. Dry firing — i.e., dropping the hammer/striker on an empty chamber — can allow you to practice the fundamentals in the safety and comfort of your own home.

Of course, you must continue to strictly observe the basic rules of firearms safety. If your carry weapon is semi-automatic, always remove the magazine first, then retract the slide to inspect the chamber through the ejection port. Verify that it is unloaded by both sight and feel. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.

If you need to buy a dedicated handgun for concealed carry, our blog can help guide you.

In Conclusion

Choosing the right CPL course instructor and handgun for concealed carry can be complicated. Our job at IFA Tactical is to make it simple. If you’d like to give us a call, you can reach us at (586) 275-2176. We’d be happy to help answer any questions that you may have.

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