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About Us

The PFTC fulfils a dual function within the firearms training industry; the role of Professional Body and that of a Quality Assurance partner of the QCTO.


  • The Professional Firearms Trainers Council (PFTC) is a registered Non-Profit company.
  • The registered name is the “South African Professional Firearm Trainers Council”, and we trade in industry beneath the acronym of the PFTC.
  • The PFTC fulfils two roles within the firearms training industry. The first is the role of Professional Body and that of a Quality Assurance partner of the QCTO. second is that of Quality Assurer.
  • The PFTC is a SAQA registered and recognised Professional Body for Firearm Training Professionals.
  • With five registered Professional Designations with SAQA, as well as a number of internal Titles or Designations allocated by the PFTC to individuals. These Designations serve to recognise professionals within the industry and indicate where a particular professional is in their career path as a firearm training professional.
  • Designations also prescribe the level at which a professional is allowed to perform based on the knowledge and skill set of that individual.
  • The different designations set the standard of the professionals within the industry.
  • The PFTC has been delegated the quality assurance function by the Quality Council for Trades & Occupation (QCTO).
  • Is responsible for maintaining the standards, as laid out SAQA and the QCTO for the Firearm Qualification 50480 and all the unit standards contained within this qualification.
  • The PFTC has also been given the mandate from SAPS (CFR) to assist in the monitoring of firearms training – according to the Firearms Control Act (FCA).


To professionalise and quality assure the firearm trainers and assessors of SA with clear performance standards and guidelines of best practice.


To have professional firearm training industry based on ethics, quality, and pride.

Our History

Ethics | Quality | Pride

The idea for the PFTC first came about when Brigadier. Jaco Bothma of the Central Firearm Registrar (at the time) identified the need for a body who could provide industry recognised subject matter experts (SME’s), and offer more comprehensive quality assurance within the firearms training industry than what was currently available through SASSETA and NRCS.

A discussion was held with Andre Pretorius, who had been instrumental in the development of the firearms industry for many years. Andre had served as Chairperson for eight years on the Firearms SGB and led task teams that developed the firearm training unit standards for the existing Firearm Training Qualification 50480. These unit standards were developed in line with the changes to the Firearms Control Act (FCA) 60/2000. The establishment of Professional Bodies was beginning to take place in South Africa at this time and Andre was invited by SAQA to attend the first SAQA “Professional Bodies” meeting.

It became clear at the “Professional Bodies” meeting and at meetings held between Brigadier Jaco Bothma, the SAQA CEO, Joe Samuels and later on with the Secretariat of Police, Jenny Irish-Qubosheane in a meeting Andre, that a very real need for a more effective quality assurer was needed for the firearms training industry.

It was in this last meeting that Andre sought confirmation from the Secretariat (due to the rather large financial and time commitments that came with developing such a structure) that next steps should be taken in establishing a Professional Body and Quality Assurer.

In order to understand where the problem with quality assurance of firearm training lay prior to the PFTC’s establishment, one needs a basic understanding of how the system is supposed to work.

Here is a basic overview of how the system worked initially when quality assurance was still being managed by SASSETA in consultation with industry.

  • A Training provider would train 20 learners on the Basic Handgun unit standard (u/s 119649).
  • The training provider would then request 20 certificates for the afore-mentioned learners from SASSETA (Learner Achievement Submission).
  • SASSETA would do a quality assurance check by verifying quarterly that the learners have passed their exams and qualification shoots. The verifiers would work through the learner’s Portfolio of Evidence and ensure that test papers were completed, and the learner had passed the tests and that targets had been shot.
  • The verifier would then check the shooting range register to confirm that the 20 learners were actually on the shooting range as claimed by the training provider.
  • The shooting range register should contain the learners name, ID number, date and signature, in their own handwriting.
  • In addition to these checks the SETA was required to ensure that training providers were properly qualified/ experienced to provide firearm training and assessment.

Although this is a much-abbreviated version of the quality assurance system as it stood, it’s enough to give you an idea of the simple but effective system that was intended when the Standards Generating Body created the firearm unit standards.

Here’s how this apparently simple system failed in practice when, a combination of a few unscrupulous training providers and poor-quality assurance decisions (including the decision not to consult or interact with industry stakeholders and subject matter experts) coupled with SETA staff, who had little or no experience of the firearms industry in general, came together.

When the SASSETA still fulfilled the role of quality assurer for the firearms industry and, still true today, SASSETA only registers Assessors. There is no record-keeping or registration of Firearm Instructors. To become a SASSETA-registered Firearm Assessor at the time, you were not required to fire a gun or prove your ability as a firearm trainer or subject matter expert within the field. The Assessor registration process was a paper-based exercise, based solely on what was captured on the applicant’s CV. So how does an assessor who has no subject knowledge in the field of firearms or firearm training properly assess anything to do with this field? This resulted in several providers being accredited to present firearm unit standards which they themselves were not capable of passing.

Training providers were also allowed to issue their own certificates which were accepted by the SAPS and SASSETA. The problem arose when unscrupulous providers capitalized on the lack of communication between SAPS and SASSETA and stopped submitting information to SASSETA This brought the Quality Control System to an abrupt halt.

No communication between SASSETA and the SAPS resulted in training providers who had been closed for years, still appearing on the SAPS Police website as open. Fraudulent certificates issued by these unscrupulous training providers were then processed through the police system in the name of the closed provider. A Provider who was closed in practice, and closed at SASSETA, but still reflected as open on the SAPS website, meant the certificates were being accepted by the police stations, completely bypassing SASSETA and legitimate training providers alike.

In addition to SASSETA registered Assessors who held no subject matter expertise, SASSETA (and previously POSLEC SETA) appointed verifiers who didn’t (dating back to the registration of the first firearms training unit standards in 2002) conduct any form of practical verification of training providers to ensure that standards were being upheld.

The SETA verifiers were restricted to conducting paper-based verifications, with no shooting range-based practical element. The SETA verifiers and SETA staff also did not go onto shooting ranges and therefore the range registers were left unchecked and more importantly no-one ever checked to see that the trainers and assessors could actually pass the qualification shoots required in the Basic, Business Purposes and Tactical Unit Standard for which they were conducting training.

The firearms industry as a whole is severely affected by an unscrupulous training provider who “sells” a training certificate to a learner without the learner actually doing a course or being properly tested. The training provider in question sells the certificate and pockets his money with no regard for the domino effect that will now unfold:

  1. No practical shooting means no shooting range booking and no range fees. Without range fees, shooting ranges cannot survive and will close. No ranges means no growth of various shooting sports, no facilities for training, and no development of shooting activities of any kind with handguns, shotguns and rifles. Shooting ranges are the life blood of the firearms industry.
  2. No practical shooting also means no ammunition expended or purchased (this impacts manufacturers and dealers). When guns are fired, it means feet through the doors of the gun shops and onto the shooting ranges. People need to buy cleaning kits, holsters, magazine pouches and other accessories like eye protection, ear protection etc. Guns being fired also leads to gunsmithing (repairs and modifications) and new firearm and ammunition purchases.
  3. The sale of the certificate now results in a potentially dangerous gun owner or even worse an incompetent security officer who is responding to people’s houses as an armed reaction officer. This person is an accident waiting to happen and the general public is at risk.

The “knock on effect” is endless and the social responsibility that firearms industry professionals have to each other and the South African public is what needs to be taken out of this explanation. This responsibility extends to protecting society from the dangers of irresponsible firearm use by incompetent or unqualified persons.

With the need for proper quality assurance in the industry identified, the PFTC was created and set out to attain SAQA recognition. In 2013 the PFTC was awarded the Delegation of Quality Assurance by the Quality Council for Trade & Occupation (QCTO) in South Africa.

PFTC’s initial plan for quality assurance was to work in partnership with SASSETA through addressing the issue of the lack of qualified practical quality assurance through providing SASSETA with industry expertise and resources. Practical quality assurance is a SAQA requirement.

The SASSETA at the time showed no interest in working with the PFTC and various legal battles ensued resulting in the PFTC being awarded the sole function of quality assurance for firearm training in South Africa.

The PFTC is a dynamic and progressive organisation that is driven by the needs of the firearms industry but governed by the rules and guidelines set out by SAQA and the QCTO. The PFTC’s policy is to uphold the quality and criteria of existing qualifications and also to develop new modules and unit standards as required.

SAQA started the “Professional Body” process in 2008 and the PFTC has been part of this process from the very first meeting.

The PFTC Membership applications opened in October 2011 and companies and individuals were encouraged to join in order to vote industry professionals onto a board to serve as board members. Membership applications were kept open for six months before board members were voted into their respective positions.

More than 100 companies and their trainers/ assessors participated in the voting process. The individual membership numbers will always be higher than company numbers because many companies have multiple trainers working for them.

More than 140 voters were responsible for voting the members of the National Executive Board into office. This took place on Friday 16 March 2012. A short background address regarding Professional Bodies was given at the meeting, first by SAQA Assistant Director Graeme Stickells and then by Deputy Director of SAQA Eddie Brown. After their departure voting took place and the following board members were voted onto the very first PFTC National Executive Board: Andre Pretorius, Mac McGuire, Nic Roets, DuToit Lambrechts, Andre van Tonder, Stuart Affleck (KZN) and Keith Biermann (WC)

Establishing PFTC

PFTC embarked on an awareness campaign where professionals in government, firearms industry and educational system were introduced to the PFTC National Executive Board. These stakeholders included:
  • SAQA, Gun Free South Africa, The Institute of Security Studies, Attorney Martin Hood, SA Hunters, The Secretariat of Police, PSIRA and many others.
  • Newsletters about the PFTC were circulated through the Range Regulation Forum and the ITA Training Provider network of more than 250 training centres at the time. This campaign took place over a period of more than six months.
  • PFTC also hosted Road Shows in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. These were hosted by the Chairperson Andre Pretorius.
  • The PFTC concept, organisation responsibilities and the impending changes that were going to take place in industry were explained and questions from stakeholders answered. Despite attempts to reach all members within the industry, SASSETA still received complaints from a few providers who claimed to not be aware of the PFTC’s existence, and while this may be possible, according to SASSETA accreditation requirements.
  • A Training Provider is required to stay current with what is going on in the industry.
  • It was then, as it is now, the Training Provider’s responsibility to ensure that they remain abreast of industry news.
The PFTC’s approach to practical Quality Assurance of firearm trainers and assessors was quite simple when implemented:
  • Step onto the firing line and prove that you are capable of passing the highest-level qualification shoot for which you are accredited and for which you are an accredited assessor.
  • If you could pass the shoot at the required level, the PFTC would issue a grading at that level. If you could not, then it stood to reason that you should not be accredited for that particular Unit Standard and needed to be graded at a lower level (you could of course go away and practice or attend training and then upgrade your level again after proving that you could pass the shoot).
  • The following was true then and remains true today: It’s important to remember that you choose the level of difficulty that you want to be graded on. If you only want to train and assess up to Business Purposes level, then that will be the level against which you will be tested.
  • Should there be a concern regarding “conflict of interest” with the PFTC verifier running a grading shoot, whether they’re a business competitor or they unnerve you on the line for whatever reason, the Instructor or Assessor participating in the shoot may bring their own Range Officer to run the shoot.
  • A PFTC verifier will be witness to the results of the shoot and the safe handling of the firearm on the line.
  • It isn’t about who runs the range, it’s about proving competence against the existing unit standards in front of credible witnesses. After all, let’s remember that this is what we require of the learners, so why not the trainers, assessors, and moderators?
Martin Hood is an avid hunter, Sports Shooter, and Collector. Martin is an attorney who specialises in firearm law and has in the past been the spokesperson for the South African Gun Owners Association. Martin is not a board member but has agreed to fulfil the role of legal advisor to the PFTC. Martin will also be consulted as an arbitrator when any dispute, conflict, irregularity, or appeal needs to be addressed. Martin is one of the few Attorneys in South Africa who not only has vast knowledge and experience in firearms but is a very capable shooter of all firearm disciplines (Handgun, Shotgun, Rifle and Carbine).