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Back when I lived in the Ocean State, I trained with David Kenik (a.k.a., the rabbi) of Armed Response [above]. He shared his vast knowledge of the practice and philosophy of armed self-defense, and inspired my work for Americans’ gun rights. At the same time, I trained with Army vet Wayne Buettner, formerly of The American Firearms School, now pursuing a business degree. Wayne taught me shooting basics with calm, concise and insightful instruction. Who do you want to thank for your firearms instruction, what did they teach you and what made them special?

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  1. “Who do you want to thank for your firearms instruction,…”

    Carnik Con, AKA Dugan Ashley.

    FPS Russia, AKA Kyle Myers…

    “what did they teach you and what made them special?”

    That shooting should be *Fun!*


  2. i really wanna give a “YUGE” shout out to a young man that used to work as an RO at Webb Park by Punta Gorda, Fla.
    Besides being the best RO at the range, he was a great instructor.
    He totally changed my approach to shooting and training.
    Peter (I do not know his last name) was also a three gun competitor. In just one informal session he had me shooting my G27 from 6″ groups at 7 yds to 6″ groups at 65 yds!! My 7 yd groups shrank to about 2″. Quantum leap fwd in my abilities.
    But most importantly it was how he changed the mental aspect of shooting for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    I hope this finds it’s way back to him because he is no longer at the park. And yes, I did thank him often.

    “As a man thinketh, so he goes.”

        • I know. I just posted the link here because RF and Co. didn’t feel like writing about it. Thankfully, this time the ND wasn’t too serious. Either Yeager or one of his instructors is eventually going to shoot somebody. Everybody knows this, but TTAG keeps looking the other way.

    • I’m not gonna comment on James Yeager’s personality.

      I’ve been through almost the entirety of Tactical Response’s curriculum including the taticool mercenary classes (never the shotgun, never will).

      Personal 2 cents:
      TR sucks when it comes to weapons manipulation. A lot of their doctrines regarding how you interact with the gun is plain wrong. However, out of the “mindset, tactics, skill, gear” idea they propose, they absolutely EXCEL at the first 2. I’d recommend anyone having solid shooting foundations to take their classes. Just be ready to get rid of some training scars after returning home. The “shooting” is less than optimal, but the “fighting’ is fantastic.

      Oh yeah be prepared to be forced to drop the gun in dirt just to prove you’re a man. This sucks too, as not everyone can afford a set of dedicated training/practice equipments after paying for the class. And if anyone forces me to damage, in the slightest, my EDC or HD gear, I am angry.

  3. Phil Kiner
    Phil is from Wyoming and is a Trap instructor. He works miracles with trapshooters and uses cameras to observe the shot patterns in slow motion. His classes are fast paced yet thought out towards the novice and expert alike.


    Otherwise I want to thank the instructors at The Range 702 in Las Vegas, Jeff and Rocky. In an industry where too many instructors have some sort of personal philosophy and agenda in their instruction these two focused entirely on proper mechanics and handling, carefully explained the reasoning behind the techniques they were teaching, and provided only real-world examples of why and when certain uses of the gun were practical or not.

    Thanks to both of them, and especially Rocky, former SEAL, who was back in Afghanistan training our troops, last I heard.

    • I’ve also appreciated many tidbits from Robert Heinlein. One of my favorites:

      “Always get your first shot off fast. This disconcerts your opponent and allows you to make your second shot count.”

  5. He went by Gunny. We were afraid of him. Even though he was a civilian, and I was a petty officer in the Navy. A couple of slaps up the side of the head (the kind that made your ear meet your shoulder), and reminders that carrying a loaded firearm was a tremendous responsibility not to be taken lightly. ( Early-mid 1970’s)

    He instilled in me an appreciation for the 1911 that I still have to this day. His instruction helped me to qualify expert with a weapon that rattled when you shook it.

    The instructors at the Columbus, Ohio Police Academy took it to the next level. I am not now, nor have I ever been a sworn officer. Just had to take courses from them for various jobs I held in Ohio. Funny/convoluted laws back then. (Early 1980’s)

  6. My dad for fostering my initial “this is really fun” and safety first instruction.
    Ernie Hanson and Bill Garland. They taught me things like “smooth is fast”.

    • I always liked that adage. Rocky (see comment above) liked to repeat, “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”

  7. I’ve been fortunate to afford training at Academi in Moyock, NC. Best training I’ve ever received. Fundamentals up to more advanced stuff.

  8. Greg Hamilton and the rest of the crew at Insights Training in Bellevue Washngton.

    Real world LEO and military BTDT experience. Good teachers with attention to detail without any BS.

    • Greg is one o the best, and I’ve trained with a few. I also have taken multiple classes with Jeff Gonzales, founder of Trident Concepts. Another star instructor.

  9. The black, dreadlocked, DEA agent who, after explaining his qualifications, shot himself in the leg in front of a class of college students. Then, without breaking stride, he reached for the AR-15, and the room pretty much cleared out.

  10. Chris Sfinas from Guardian Training Center, a true teacher with a great attitude, Massad Ayoob from LFI (now MAG) and my dear friend Dr. Anthony Semone

    All of these are exceptional teachers that work hard everyday to better their students and world around.

  11. I’d like to thank the Marine Cadre at NSB Bangor WA. They taught me it is actually possible to effectively use a pistol, and to do so safely with speed and accuracy. For these reasons they will always have my thanks.

  12. My revered Father, the Reverend Bruce Badger. The man set up a safe rifle range in our basement! Where he proceeded to make me and my four sisters absolute crackshots with my .22. And would throw clays until I could shoot my side-by-side nearly as well as he could.

    Who said, “Beware the man with only one gun.”? Dad owned a single shot, hammer fired 12 guage. He would hold two shells between the fingers of his off hand. On a dare, I’ve seen him fire three rounds faster, and more acurately, than guys with pumps!

    But, I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a pistol when I went into MP AIT. Pretty intimidated. Had to qualify or loose my Military Specialty. Long forgotten instructors had me qualify Expert at the end of our range time. All those years of experience teaching individuals of widely varying abilities a step by step system still works.

    And I still use a similar approach using the NRA system. In Illinois you must score 70% or better on the, not very challenging, live fire test for your CCL. My last class was all older vets, the oldest was 86. A promotion with the VFW. The worst score in the class was 89%. Not too shabby!

  13. Cris sfinas yourpfi/ guardian training center warminster pa. Incredible instructor with tons of experience teaching everything from the mindset and situational awareness to basic marksmanship principles and interacting with your environment while fighting with your firearm.

  14. My dad taught me to shoot rifles, shotguns, and handguns before I was 10, and drilled fundamentals and safety into me.

    But I started learning the big differences between shooting and gunfighting after a few classes with Steve Smith (Asgard National Training Group). Steve’s a former British Army sergeant major and SAS door kicker, and is a superb teacher (and his classes are small and very economical). Highly recommended.

  15. Ray Chapman, (1929? – 2008).

    1975 – Combat Pistol; 1st World Championship (IPSC).
    1979 – Started The Chapman Academy, which became
    the home of “The Bianchi Cup”.

    • Of the original 5, Elden Carl and Thell Reed are still with us.
      I got to meet Mr. Carl in the early ’70’s

  16. My grandfather who taught me the basics of gun handling and safety.

    The Army for its training in shooting, moving, and communicating.

    My police department, people here rip on police firearms training but the training I have received is outstanding.

    Between the two I have thousands of hours of training and it is wonderful.

  17. Bill Rogers – Rogers Shooting School. For accuracy combined with reaction-time speed, there’s none better.

  18. Mas Ayoob – after many years of reading his books and articles, I finally took MAG 40. 4 days of drinking from a fire hose.

  19. Grandpa and Dad primarily.
    Grandpa was a seasoned hunter and Dad was a Staff Sergeant with both Basic and Advanced Marksman Qualifications. Dad was also a combat infantry veteran on Luzon. Dad would have been promoted to Master Sergeant had the bomb not been dropped.

  20. Rob Curran & Denis Donovan of Tactical a Dynamics Firearms Training. They’re hands on, humorous AND safe. I’ve taken a couple of classes at SIG, a couple of higher-powered classes in CT, and a couple of less-formal classes. I still feel that I’ve connected more with Rob and Denis that anyone else.

  21. The guys at 37 PSR In North Carolina. I went from being extremely mediocre to being decent. My previous 11 years of military training did not prepare me to actually engage targets in a realistic manner with elevated heart rate and other added stressors. Even the live fires I’ve done were fairly scripted and highly controlled. They were not super realistic.

  22. I’ve never met a firearms instructor. All I’ve got is “book learnin.'” But I am able to shoot reasonably close to where I am aiming at 15 yards. Neither the BLM range not the (only) indoor range in town have ROs. My daughter (along with all the other people in her office) took an “introduction to firearms” class with a retired Navy Seal. After the class, she had time left over for shooting, and he taught her a better grip for her FNX .45 that had her hitting with much greater accuracy and the ability to control the recoil.

  23. I’ve taken three four-day classes at Front Sight outside of Las Vegas, NV and thought it was excellent training. I’ve hunted since boyhood, got rifle marksmanship merit badge from the Boy Scouts, spent twenty years in the Army, and never got the knowledge I received at Front Sight.

  24. Scott and Dylan Kenneson at Sig Sauer Academy. Dylan told me I was blind, but praised my wife as Grambo for her accuracy. He was right. Scott had the patience of Job, helping me with my mechanics to make me a better shooter, even if I can’s see beyond the front sight.

  25. Without a doubt, John Farnam has influenced the most. I’ve enjoyed his courses and appreciate his down to earth approach. There’s no fluff.

  26. Most of these folks are based out of Ohio. All are recommended. Each brought a little different perspective to the table.

    Andy Loeffler
    D.R. Middlebrooks
    Gabe Suarez
    Rob Pincus
    Brian LeMaster
    Greg Ellifritz
    Chris Cerino
    Andrew Blubaugh
    Michael Craig
    Bryan McKean
    Dave Spaulding

  27. Only formal instructor was Mike Seeklander several years ago. My largest regret is not having good formal training 20 to 30 years ago.

  28. Reno Raines at in Seattle, Washington.

    Our security agency did its annual firearms training by attending his Combat Pistolcraft course. It was amazing. I actually realized how to fight with a handgun instead of just shooting it. We covered tactics, mindset and manipulation.

    I learned that fighting with a handgun and shooting with a handgun are vastly different. I wasn’t near as prepared as I thought I was. I was truthful with myself and decided I needed to attend many more classes with Reno and other instructors.

    I can’t say enough good things about the class. It really opened my eyes to my abilities.

    • I took Reno Raines Israeli Pistol class at Grey solutions USA. It was very good. I enjoyed closing with the combatant instead of always moving away. Sometimes new is good. Highly recommended.

      I also remember he wore a Desantis SkyCop holster. He spoke highly of it.

  29. Wasn’t David Kenik eventually outed as a guy who ran a sham charity for officers that collected WAY more than it ever distributed? All I can find on him and his supposed law enforcement career is that he’s a firearms instructor for “a New Mexico law enforcement agency”, or something like that. As far as I can tell he has no real world gun fighting credentials, and watching what little I was able to find of him on the internet it doesn’t seem like he’s got anything to say that I haven’t already heard someone else say.

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