NRA revokes instructor’s credentials after profane call to training staff

The National Rifle Association has revoked the credentials of Texas-based NRA Senior Training Counselor and Chief Range Safety Officer Fredd Bergman after he used off-color language during a phone call with members of NRA’s Training Department.

To be clear, Bergman’s credentials were not withdrawn for swearing in front of students. They were yanked after he used some salty language during a call that he said involved “discrepancies and unwritten procedures that have been adopted by the department without genuine regard for Training Counselor business, consistency and the code of conduct in general.”

Bergman called Training about two key concerns: the newly enforced mandatory minimum of four students before an instructor class can be conducted, and issues with an assistant instructor student who had to retake a Pistol Instructor course.

“During this rambling, disjointed and profane phone call you admitted to having not conducted the pre-course qualification for this student, and that you had simply accepted her Basics of Pistol Shooting certificate with a Level 4 qualification,” NRA Training Department Manager Brett Simon wrote in the letter revoking Bergman’s credentials. “Finally, you stated to one of the staff ‘It’s your invitation to shut the fuck up now.’ This statement was witnessed by five separate Training Department staff, including myself.”

Fredd Bergman

Bergman disputes Simon’s characterization of the reasons for the call, but he does not dispute dropping an F-bomb. He said the Training staffers were screaming at him as well during the call.

“They were yelling over each other,” he said. “They were climbing over the top of each other to yell at me.”

Punishment was swift.

“Due to your ongoing derogatory conduct toward NRA staff in emails and telephone conversations, this most recent infraction combined with the admission to not upholding NRA policy is cause for grave concern. The Education and Training Division no longer has confidence that you are capable of proper conduct as a Training Counselor,” Simon wrote in the letter. “In light of the situation, the NRA Training Department has revoked your status as an NRA Certified Instructor and Training Counselor.”

Bergman strongly disputes admitting to any policy violation or to not upholding policy.

“They’re lying about that,” he said.

This isn’t his first clash with training. Not too long ago, Bergman received an email stating that his credentials were suspended, but after talking through the issues with Training he was quickly reinstated.

Eric Frohardt, NRA’s director of Training and Education, said in a statement that Bergman was a “good training counselor for many years.”

“That is why his recent erratic behavior was deeply concerning,” Frohardt wrote. “Our trainers are on the frontlines representing our Association and we will always work hard to ensure that we continue to deliver the best training to all.”

My take

If the delicate snowflakes in Training were offended by Bergman’s F-bomb, perhaps they should realize that sometimes this is how men talk.

And perhaps they shouldn’t screw up so often.

Remember, these are the same folks who brought us the blended training debacle, because they thought it would be a good idea for students to learn basic pistol skills from a computer rather than a live instructor.

Bergman also pointed out, rightfully, that the Training staff forget that the instructors are their customers, and that the staff work for the customers. 

“They’re acting more like an enforcement organization,” he said. “I challenge their ridiculousness and their answer is to boot me?”

This is a common theme among many of the Training Counselors and instructors I speak to about the Training Division.

They’re tired of the way they’re being treated.

It’s not hard to understand the root cause.

There are about a dozen folks in the Training Department, but there are more than 100,000 instructors.

That is a recipe for disaster.

Bergman is only the latest instructor to draw Training’s ire.

And he is the wrong guy to be disciplined for bruising a couple of egos.

Look at his bio. He’s a a seasoned Training Counselor with a host of certifications, appointments and accomplishments and volunteerism, including “serving as Chairman of Alamo Area Friends of National Rifle Association for five years, as well as a delegate on the NRA Foundation South Texas Grant Fund Committee. He performed as NRA Institute for Legislative Action’s Election Volunteer Coordinator for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District 2003-2012.”

He’s also an Army veteran — a disabled veteran — which should still mean something to the good folks on Waples Mill Road.

I hope that cooler heads prevail in this matter.

I’ve sent this story to all NRA board members, who I hope will take swift action since I’m sure this isn’t an isolated case.

Bergman’s credentials need to be restored — period.

He’s spent 20 years advocating for the Second Amendment, training students and instructors, and raising funds for worthy causes such as the NRA Foundation.

He deserves another chance.

And it appears that a couple Training staffers need to be reminded that the membership does not work for them. They work for the membership.

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

15 Comments

  1. First to call NRA staff snowflakes is ridiculous it just shows extreme bias on your behalf. Eric Frogardt is a former Navy SEAL, John Howard his manager is a veteran and retired from the Navy, so in sure those to in particular are by no means offended unprofessional language like that.

    What your missing is being an instructor for any organization is not a right. If you teach for that organization you are in essence a representative. Would you want a representative wearing your company logo running around and cussing people out and acting in an obvious unprofessional manner?

    The concern is how does this man act when no ones watching him. If he’s willing to treat people this way, than who knows what he’s doing in classes. And that’s probably why he got the initial suspension in the first place.

    Remember three components Knowledge, Skill and Attitude, if you have a poor attitude than go teach for someone who doesn’t mind an obnoxious one that doesn’t cut corners.

    FYI the policy of 4 student minimums is not a new policy but one has been in effect for almost 10 years. So that being the case if Mr. Bergman isn’t keeping up on changes to curriculum he should have his credentials stripped for that reason alone.

  2. The guy didn’t get his credentials for dropping the F-bomb. He lost his credentials due to numerous things. Obviously you are not a fan of the NRA and like to write negative things about them, however your article is filled with inaccurate information and is nothing more than an opinion piece. This article is fake news.

  3. Bryan Phillips on

    To Andy Landers:
    Mr. Bergman is up on the changes. YOU are not. He noticed the change in policy last summer. Perhaps you should get yourself up to speed before you start calling for someone to be stripped of their credentials.
    Bryan Phillips NRA Training Counselor

    From the TC Guides: (new and old)

    Training Counselors MUST have a MINIMUM of four candidates
    in every course, with 10 –12 candidates being ideal.
    A-10
    Revision date 06-18

    Training Counselors should ensure there are at least four
    candidates in every course, with 10 –12 candidates being ideal.
    A-10
    Revision date 03-11

  4. I had my creds revokes by me simon as well for first signing my name the wrong way as he put it then I showed him that it was my legal signature and I left the room to head to the range where with in 20 minutes I was told I flagged the line then I pointed a firearm at an nra employee the same person /people who were in the classroom seemed to be the only ones involved in the incident
    Yet such a very serious safety violation should have called for an all stop or something to indicate that something major has happened on the fireing line the pointing a firearm at an nra employee would once again be cause for the person to call an all stop or something to that affect but no. No way me stopped doing anything and for me to have pointed a firearm at an nra employee I would have to have done it though another student.
    They had 24 students on the line and the person who stated I pointed a gun at him was 4/5 people to my left still don’t know how I could have pointed a gun at him to allow him to see down the muzzle
    But he seems to have a little man complex one thing I do is record everything I use different things and in classroom I use one of the key dvr in which I have him on film pointing his firearm in the direction of a student on 2 occasions

  5. Bryan Phillips- Definition of en·sure
    verb
    make certain that (something) shall occur or be the case.
    “the client must ensure that accurate records be kept”
    synonyms: make sure, make certain, see to it; More
    make certain of obtaining or providing (something).
    “she would ensure him a place in society”
    synonyms: safeguard, protect, guard, shield, shelter, fortify, make invulnerable; More
    make sure that (a problem) shall not occur.

    I am up to date on the policy. I was the TC Coordinator for NRA for over 10 years, helped devise and enforce the policy. Which happened numerous times before the word changed from ensure to must.

    The word changed from” ensure to must doesn’t mean the policy changed. The point of the policy is because there are too many TC’s and instructors, who are worried only about their pocket book, and don’t worry about the student and what they are teaching and what or if the instructor candidate is actually learning. So you’re a Training Counselor congratulations, I certified around 1,000 TC’s from 2005-2018. Since you are a TC You should know that every instructor class involves break out groups and needs multiple people for each lesson, in most cases needs a minimum of 4 candidates for the course and for the role playing in the instructor course to be effective, this has been like this since before 1995. It wasn’t until TC’s started worrying about how much money they could make and started to cut major corners that this started to cause changes in written policy’s. If TC’s would just do it the right way and not try to game the system or cut as many corners as possible than this wouldn’t even be an issue. There also would be internet lawyers arguing over the words “ensure” vs. “must”.

    This isn’t something that came out of thin air, this came from TC’s that would do 1-2 instructor courses that missed learning objectives and didn’t accomplish what they were intended to do, then candidates would call and complain. Once interviews would go out to former students, we would learn the TC barely knew how to teach from an instructor lesson plan let alone a two tiered lesson plan like the TC guide and instructor lesson plans. They would interject things that weren’t appropriate and or dangerous to the student. I was apart of multiple investigations regarding bad Training Counselors, and when they were called on something they acted very similar to how Mr. Bergman acted, when finally interviewed they tell you how many credentials they had and start dropping F bombs. Folks with this type of know more than you attitude is reckless, dangerous, and has a lot of liability attached to it.

    What you don’t know is that before any letter goes out, students are interviewed, research is done, and in most cases NRA Education and Training has a good idea of what is going on. Due process is given, in most cases it up to the person in question to respond in a manner showing they are willing to rectify the situation. Telling 5 staff members to “SHUT the F up doesn’t appear that he wants to rectify anything. It appears he isn’t going to change anything and do it his way. At that point he falls into the liability category.

    If you read any of the NRA LPs or TC Guide you will see three elements Knowledge, Skill and Attitude. To state that you are a “Senior Training Counselor” , which exists in title only and doesn’t mean anything anymore, because NRA doesn’t use Senior Training Counselor’s anymore, is worse than just coming and saying wow I messed up how can we rectify this?

    • Andy,

      It speaks volumes about an organization when their damage control plan consists of posting comments on a story or Facebook. Another revoked TC just contacted me with a similar story. You obviously have problems in Training. Try fixing the problems, not the blame. Thanks!

    • Bryan Phillips on

      To Andy Landers:
      Thank you for the definition of the word “ensure” to nauseam, but it is amazing that you miss the proper word in question. The correct comparison is “should” to “MUST”, not “ensure” to “must”.
      THIS IS THE EXACT COPY AND PASTE FROM THE TC GUIDES:
      OLD POLICY: “should ensure there are at least four candidates…”
      NEW POLICY AS OF 6-18: “MUST have a MINIMUM of four candidates…”
      I am surprised you don’t think this is a policy change. But I’m guessing that you will define “policy” next, so let’s just call it a significant change.

      Because “should” means a “strong recommendation”, there was always some leeway granted. As a TC for over 12 years, I have been involved in big and small classes and when I had a class with 4, and 1 cancelled the morning of class, I didn’t want to send 3 people home (and they didn’t want to go home) so I ran the class. And although the style of preparation periods are different, it does work. And I have seen many times, advantages of small classes as each candidate is teaching more, covering a greater range of subjects, and many candidates needed and appreciated that. (But this is a subject for another time). And the NRA Training Dept. has never complained when there were times I fell below that “recommendation” of 4.

      But now as of last summer, the word “SHOULD” has changed to “MUST”. Without running to the dictionary, MUST means an Absolute, and no leeway. And I think this “significant change” is wrong and many others share this as Mr. Bergman does, because he caught the change.

      But it is the scolding and demeaning comments that you make that just isn’t right. In your first post above, you called for Mr. Bergman to be stripped of his credentials as it seems that you sensed that he didn’t know the policy of 4, (as you said, “is not a new policy” and hasn’t changed for almost 10 years), and the way you said it suggests that you didn’t catch the “significant change” last summer. Had you caught it, one would expect that you would have said something about it when you made your comment.

      But the “who knows” speculation that you posted above is just demeaning. When Mr Bergman used profanity with the Training Dept. (which I don’t agree with), you then drop subtle hints of speculation of “who knows” what he’s doing in class. As if he gets off the phone with HQ and then might behave badly in class. “Who Knows”. The point is: “You don’t Know”. “I don’t Know”. So why not just take the high ground and leave that type of speculation alone.

      I think that your dialog sometimes suggests that you think the NRA Training Dept. never does anything wrong and that we (thousands of TC’s and instructors) work for them, when in fact, they work for us. We are not on their payroll, but they ARE on ours. And they, at times HAVE dropped the ball. Many of us remember when years ago the program materials center couldn’t supply anything for weeks on end; and this is supposed to be one of their highest priorities. And periods of inconsistent supply following that (just recently, no Basic Pistol Student Packets available). Years ago, I send in reports of mistakes in curriculum and tests, and never hear back with the mistakes remaining. And there’s more that many other people have pointed out.

      Bottom line, no organization is perfect. As a patriot level NRA life member and TC, I fully support the NRA (as I know you do) and I thank God every day there is an NRA, for I think we all know what would happen if they didn’t exist. And Andy, I know you have done good work in the NRA Training Dept. and worked hard (as we have had conversations years ago) but I think keeping the dialog more “civil” serves everyone better.

      Bryan Phillips
      NRA Training Counselor

  6. I see this article abit differently…
    “The NRA have committed suicide”
    So be it.
    Many of US are moving on to True 2A Defending orginazations.
    My go round with NRA about Gillibrand years ago opened my eyes, and i sent back my lifetime membership. (Preserved in there servers somewhere)
    And now vendors pulling themselves from the convention.
    The Bumpstock BS
    I suspect this man is about to have a Full Calender for Training

  7. Bryan Phillips on

    BRYAN PHILLIPS on JANUARY 29, 2019 7:55 PM
    To Andy Landers:
    Thank you for the definition of the word “ensure” to nauseam, but it is amazing that you miss the proper word in question. The correct comparison is “should” to “MUST”, not “ensure” to “must”.
    THIS IS THE EXACT COPY AND PASTE FROM THE TC GUIDES:
    OLD POLICY: “should ensure there are at least four candidates…”
    NEW POLICY AS OF 6-18: “MUST have a MINIMUM of four candidates…”
    I am surprised you don’t think this is a policy change. But I’m guessing that you will define “policy” next, so let’s just call it a significant change.

    Because “should” means a “strong recommendation”, there was always some leeway granted. As a TC for over 12 years, I have been involved in big and small classes and when I had a class with 4, and 1 cancelled the morning of class, I didn’t want to send 3 people home (and they didn’t want to go home) so I ran the class. And although the style of preparation periods are different, it does work. And I have seen many times, advantages of small classes as each candidate is teaching more, covering a greater range of subjects, and many candidates needed and appreciated that. (But this is a subject for another time). And the NRA Training Dept. has never complained when there were times I fell below that “recommendation” of 4.

    But now as of last summer, the word “SHOULD” has changed to “MUST”. Without running to the dictionary, MUST means an Absolute, and no leeway. And I think this “significant change” is wrong and many others share this as Mr. Bergman does, because he caught the change.

    But it is the scolding and demeaning comments that you make that just isn’t right. In your first post above, you called for Mr. Bergman to be stripped of his credentials as it seems that you sensed that he didn’t know the policy of 4, (as you said, “is not a new policy” and hasn’t changed for almost 10 years), and the way you said it suggests that you didn’t catch the “significant change” last summer. Had you caught it, one would expect that you would have said something about it when you made your comment.

    But the “who knows” speculation that you posted above is just demeaning. When Mr Bergman used profanity with the Training Dept. (which I don’t agree with), you then drop subtle hints of speculation of “who knows” what he’s doing in class. As if he gets off the phone with HQ and then might behave badly in class. “Who Knows”. The point is: “You don’t Know”. “I don’t Know”. So why not just take the high ground and leave that type of speculation alone.

    I think that your dialog sometimes suggests that you think the NRA Training Dept. never does anything wrong and that we (thousands of TC’s and instructors) work for them, when in fact, they work for us. We are not on their payroll, but they ARE on ours. And they, at times HAVE dropped the ball. Many of us remember when years ago the program materials center couldn’t supply anything for weeks on end; and this is supposed to be one of their highest priorities. And periods of inconsistent supply following that (just recently, no Basic Pistol Student Packets available). Years ago, I send in reports of mistakes in curriculum and tests, and never hear back with the mistakes remaining. And there’s more that many other people have pointed out.

    Bottom line, no organization is perfect. As a patriot level NRA life member and TC, I fully support the NRA (as I know you do) and I thank God every day there is an NRA, for I think we all know what would happen if they didn’t exist. And Andy, I know you have done good work in the NRA Training Dept. and worked hard (as we have had conversations years ago) but I think keeping the dialog more “civil” serves everyone better.

    Bryan Phillips
    NRA Training Counselor

  8. Well you can add one more highly trained suspended trainer …teaching less than 4 students. 6 students sign up, 3 cancel. Modify your training and still get the job done. Doesn’t matter whether you get the same result just as long as the magic number is 4. No one listens. So you have to sit in a workshop to get it back. Don’t know if it’s worth it anymore.

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