April 29, 2019
An open letter to the NRA MEMBERSHIP and their elected SERVANTS, the NRA Board of Directors.
I hope these words don’t fall on deaf ears, as I am just another Bojo on the bus, a small fish in a big – and curently fetid pond: a mere NRA Member. I have, however, an insight on the current situation at the NRA that has developed from both my time as a PROUD NRA staff member, shunned heretic after my departure, and current disgusted yet DEVOTED Member.
I was blessed to have served as the Training Department’s Senior Training Program Coordinator, a position that I was incredibly humbled to be created to bring me on board. I served as part of a Team that was passionate, relentless, vigilant, and tireless in our continuing improvement and protection of the training programs, which are the HEART of the NRA’s mission statement. We had a Director who had our backs, a Manager who bled the NRA, and a Team that wasn’t afraid – even supported in – telling the Emperor when he was naked. I was naive at the time about Ackerman-McQueen. I heard “Ack-Mac” mentioned occasionally with a shrug, but that was it.
What I did notice and was uncomfortable with was the cult of personality that some of the Executive Staff had. The Director of General Operations, a stuffed shirt, self-interested bully in my eyes (whose, I must admit, basically being told to shut up and sit down at the 2019 Meeting of Members seemed like karma at its best), and the Executive Director both always seemed to be placed FAR above their roles and NOT at the helm of a not for profit Association. In fact, the ONLY member of the Executive Staff at the time, Secretary Major James Lamb, was the MOST deserving of admiration: he worked FOR the Association, not the Association working for him.
I began to sense something was rotten in Denmark shortly after I was tasked with creating the Instructor Sales Program, a program through which Trainers would have access to reduced pricing on items which they could use in their training courses: a “win-win-win” for students and trainers, manufacturers, and the Training Programs. The “win” for the programs was that all of the revenue generated to the NRA had to go into the Education and Training Endowment to help the Traing Programs be remain self-perpetuating.
My guidelines were pretty clear: quality products, ZERO exclusivity, and no “buy in” on the part of manufacturers. The “contracts” were basically handshake agreements, reviewed by General Counsel, which were welcomed by manufacturers as a pleasant change from the Office of Advancement’s hard-sell licensing agreements, which I have NO doubt were blueprinted by Ack-Mac. The program was a moderate success.
However, shortly after, I approached a major optics manufacturer who was more than happy to become involved. Details were worked out, General Counsel approved of the details, but just before launching, I was pulled into the office of the GO Director and told to stand down temporarily because another optics manufacturer who had NOT responded to my offer to be included, “may not be comfortable with their competition being in the program”. This was my first hint that “perks” to senior staff could be driving decisions, later substantiated when a senior staff member went on to a position for the protected manufacturer.
Closer to home for me was the idea of web based training. The Training Department staff had been tasked with vigilantly ensuring that NRA credentials were in no way associated with online training. This determination was made based on three of the keystones could not exist in a web-based course: TPI (Total Participant Involvement); evaluation of the Knowledge, Skills, and ATTITUDE of the student by the trainer; and – most importantly- safety, as the students’ safe gun handling could NOT be observed and unsafe acts not be identified, remediated, and corrected, or – failing that course of action – the student being identified as not passing because of Attitude.
Just prior to my leaving staff, there began to be inklings of the development of web-based NRA Basic Firearms Courses, specifically, the Basics of Pistol Marksmanship Course. My peers were adamantly against this, and we were amazed that it was even being considered.
After I left, the whole debacle of “blended learning” went ahead full steam, without the consideration of the input from trainers in the trenches being asked for input. This was, in NO doubt, a result of the ever growing Ackerman-McQueen power within the NRA.
We all know the farce that the launching of Blended Learning was, and the offshoot of this rape of the integrity of the Programs was the introduction of Carry Guard, an Ack-Mac-inspired program that, it must be noted, is the HEART of the New York lawsuit that the “Old Guard” on the Board who voiced the need for secrecy at the Meeting of Members referenced.
This blatant ramrodding of a non-NRA developed course also resulted in the appointment of a new Education and Training Director who was, unbelievably, a major player in the Carry Guard program and who, for all intents and purposes, was given the equivalent of a “no show union job” that organized crime would be proud of.
I have left many names out. A little research can fill in blanks.
Again, I am PROUD to be a MEMBER of the National Rifle Association of America. I am PROUD to have worked with Bill Poole, the late Charles Mitchell, Andy Lander, Mark Richardson, Sean Thornton, Samantha Olsen, and the many other, under-payed, overworked, and dedicated staff members in the trenches during my time there.
I am saddened and – at times – angered by the few who have apparently turned to “the dark side” and sold out in the name of job security or – often worse, personal gain or power, after preaching “you gotta be here for the passion not the paycheck”.
In closing, MY Association is at a crossroads. It has become the swamp that many have lashed out against in our federal government. The “not for profit” status of the Association, if kept to its charter, bylaws, and mission statement is NOT in jeopardy. The FOR PERSONAL PROFIT actions of the “Old Guard” Board Members, certain of the Executive Staff and Directors and Deputy Directors, and Ackerman-McQueen influence have not only endangered the not for profit status but the INTEGRITY of the Association.
In addition, the heedless, unbridled hero worship of many Members and their antipathy toward holding the Old Guard accountable has helped to create the monster that is destroying the Association from within. This PROUD member of the “unwashed masses” that the Old Guard looks down on and feels deserve secrecy from the inner workings has had enough and will no longer tolerate the foxes keeping watch over the hen house.
NRA Life Member
NRA Training Counselor
Former NRA Training Department Staff Member