We’re a Non-Profit Organization Dedicated to Advancing
Firearms Training & Education
The Firearms Instruction, Research & Education (F.I.R.E.) Institute is a non-profit, tax exempt, corporation organized in Pennsylvania in 2003. As our name suggests, F.I.R.E. is devoted to firearms training and instruction including safety training, and sponsorship of firearms training courses and research and development of methods, practices and equipment used in the firearms training industry.
The initial mission of the F.I.R.E. Institute was to take over the firearms instruction program developed by the Pennsylvania Firearms Development Corporation (PFDC). The PFDC program was started in 1996 by a small group of Gunsite Academy alumni who realized that people of average economic means might lack the money or free time to travel to an established school for a week-long course. Even people who could afford more lengthy courses were not likely to make professional training a priority, because most people do not generally realize the value of such training until they have experienced it.
Our answer was to bring full-time, professional instructors to the Pittsburgh area to lead three-day programs covering the basics of several shooting disciplines – after all, instructors are the heart and soul of any successful training program. Eliminating travel costs and shortening the courses so they require only a weekend plus one day off work, made it easy for people to attend. Because F.I.R.E. staff were (and are) unpaid volunteers, course costs remained low.
With the support and cooperation of some of the finest trainers in the industry, our program succeeded. Over a period of eight years, hundreds of individuals experienced the benefits of professional firearms training run by experienced instructors using an organized curriculum. Many participants enrolled in three and four additional courses and the scope and level of trainings expanded greatly. A number of those who attended our local courses went on to enroll in courses provided elsewhere by commercial providers including the Gunsite Academy in Arizona.
We also saw a kind of "cooperative training group" emerge. Course graduates began to volunteer their time to assist with other courses and several have sought out formal instructor training. The increased number of skilled and qualified individuals available to assist with courses reduced the burden on instructors, and made possible more labor-intensive courses, such as "Tactics I" and "Tactics II."
Anyone can be taught how to shoot in a few days. But having clarity regarding whether and when to shoot is another matter. It is just as important as gun handling and marksmanship, and those skills take longer to develop. We have learned to pay attention to this. Over the past 25 years, we added more instruction addressing problem solving, understanding the governing law, and being clear on one’s actual objectives. Our purpose is to teach our graduates how to more calmly and competently respond to potentially life-threating situations.