from Steve Hoback, Save the Second Board Member:
I was the Senior Training Program Coordinator at NRA’s Education and Training Division from early 2008 to late early 2013. During my time there I was part of a team that rabidly defended the integrity of the NRA training programs and worked hard to keep them current and relevant. NRA Training was the sole source of revenue that allowed the other departments – Youth Programs, women’s Programs, National coaching, etc – to continue to operate. I was honored to be part of that Team and train and train with many fantastic individuals, and saw saw the majority of NRA employees to be hard working and dedicated to the cause of Second Amendment advocacy.
I started to see changes 2012. First, there began to be discussions regarding offering training online as an increased source of revenue for the Association. This was a shock, as we had vigilantly and mercilessly gone after any Certified Instructors who mentioned their NRA credentials in any association with online training. We all understood that it was impossible to verify the transfer of knowledge or solidly evaluate a student’s knowledge, skills, and attitude in an online forum. Total Participant Involvement (TPI) was a cornerstone of NRA training, and online training completely disregards this. I also became frustrated at the compensation at NRA. My peers and I were totally dedicated to and worked very hard for the Association, and our pay was drastically below the national and area averages for like positions. After I had been there and my responsibilities increased, I had to fight for a pay increase from around $28k per year to just over $30k. No Association employees had received even cost of living raises, let alone performance based increases, in the previous 5 years or more. At this time I learned of Kayne Robinson’s – former Board president and then Executive Director of General Operations – high six-figure/low 7 figure BONUS, paid to him when rumors of his retirement were getting stronger. I finally got frustrated at a lot of the executive excess and the shift from program integrity to profitability, and began looking for other opportunities. I was recruited for a corporate training job in the civilian sector for more than double my NRA salary, and took the opportunity. I gave NRA four weeks notice, which initially was appreciated, or so I thought. Later that day, I was told that they would prefer my leaving immediately, but that they would pay me through the four week period. I basically was given a “no show” job to – in my mind – not talk about executive largess in HQ. I never signed an NDA, as became common practice after I left, because I’m sure that they know I would have laughed at it and not signed: no one was going to keep me quiet about speaking the truth.
After I left, it seemed that the shift at the Association as a whole and the Training Department in particular was changing at an alarmingly fast pace. The Blended Learning debacle was announced with a secrecy and arrogance that completely disregarded valued Trainers’ input, questions, and disagreement. Many were concerned with their cash flow; these I disregarded, as during my time conducting Training Counselor Development Workshops and dealing with trainers on a daily basis, I made it clear that I stood completely behind the principle that NRA credentials were not and were never intended to be a revenue stream. Still, there were Trainers across the country who shared my belief that the lack of TPI and immersion with the student would devalue and decrease the integrity of the NRA Training programs.
The staffing changes were equally disturbing and destructive. Kayne Robinson retired and was replaced by Josh Powell, a man whose only claim to fame was a string of failed businesses, lost lawsuits, and apparent Ackerman McQueen or LaPierre personal connection, and Bill Poole retired as Managing Director of E&T, replaced by Eric Frohardt, whose biggest claim was the Training Director of CarryGuard, the utter disaster created by Ackerman McQueen and approved of at the Executive level for what I can only believe was pure greed. Powell instituted Deputy Director positions, increasing the top-heavy executive structure, addressing neither short-staffing at the worker level nor substandard pay that was beginning to cause an exodus of valued, long-term employees. Frohardt telecommuted at least two to three days out of the week. I’m sure his attention was much more needed attending to the highly successful CarryGuard training program (please read my sarcasm in the last sentence). And Powell’s continued employment as an adviser to LaPierre on legal matters is a farce: again, unless one counts all of the legal proceedings against him as a valued part of his curriculum vitae.
Another staff question that has gone completely unanswered is the issue of Cole McCulloch, Managing Director of Competitions. Shortly before I left, McCulloch began reaching out to the Training Department fo hype his as-yet uncompleted training facility, Peacemaker, in West Virginia. I remember him being considered an arrogant, pushy con man. Not long after I left, he became the head of Competitions, and not long after that, Peacemaker became the home of the NRA World Shooting Championship. This obvious conflict – his profiting personally from an event that HE oversaw as NRA staff – has NEVER been addressed.
I am totally angered and disgusted at the direction that OUR Association’s executive “leadership” has gone, and I both value and respect the too few Board Members who have stood with integrity and courage to speak out against the current LaPierre regime and their utter contempt for the call for transparency and truthfulness. I am neither an “anti-gunner” nor a “Bloomberg shill”, as any who are part of the current Lapie-reign of Terror or their tinfoil hat-wearing cronies call any who stand against them. As I stated in my open letter to the Board just after the 2019 NRAAM, I’m just another Bozo on the bus full of concerned NRA Members and American gun owners who are tired of executive leadership using OUR Association – and the associated dues and donations – as their personal spending accounts and who continue to operate with a total arrogance about and contempt of any who say that the emperor is naked, in spite of the designer suits that WE bought him.
Steve HobackNRA Life Member and Board Member of Save the Second.