Gunsite Training Center

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Gunsite is a privately run firearms training facility based in Yavapai County, Arizona, just north of Paulden in the United States. It offers tuition-funded instruction in handgun, carbine, rifle and shotgun shooting, as well as other specialty firearms. Located on a 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) facility, Gunsite has classroom, indoor and outdoor firing simulators, and various pistol and long-barrel ranges. There's also an on-site pro shop and gunsmith.

The GunSite Raven

History of the center[edit]

The American Pistol Institute (1976–1992)[edit]

Gunsite Ranch First Class September 1976. Bill Garland, Bruce Nelson, Jeff Cooper, Ronin Colman, Paul Carrara, Charles Avery, Israeli Guy, Dick Brooks
Cooper house Near GunSite headquarters.

Gunsite was founded by Jeff Cooper as the American Pistol Institute (A.P.I.) in 1976 in order to teach the Modern Technique of the Pistol. The Modern Technique of the Pistol is a method of use of the handgun for self-defense. The Modern Technique uses a two-handed grip of the pistol, which brings the pistol to eye-level, so that the sights may be used to aim the pistol at one's assailant. Prior to the founding of API, Jeff Cooper had traveled the world providing training in the Modern Technique to security teams such as those protecting heads of state, prominent politicians and wealthy individuals.[1] The facilities at Gunsite allowed Jeff Cooper to teach the Modern Technique to a much wider audience. At that time the firearms training school industry did not exist.

Jeff Cooper developed similar doctrines in the use of the rifle and shotgun and these courses were also taught at Gunsite. These included the basic rifle course as well as courses designed for those hunting dangerous game, Jeff Cooper being a keen hunter himself.

After the introduction of the rifle and shotgun courses, the name "American Pistol Institute" was changed to "Gunsite Training Center" to reflect the broadening of the training spectrum.

From the beginning the objective of Gunsite was firearms education. Originally, the courses at Gunsite were numbered (250, 270, 499) because they were assigned units by the University of Phoenix as part of their program. Over the years increasingly advanced and complex courses were offered (with correspondingly higher numbers) for those taking study of the use of firearms to higher levels. Jeff Cooper named a number of individuals as 'Shooting Masters',[2][3] as they had developed a degree of proficiency in the Modern Technique of the three firearms (pistol, rifle, shotgun) that they had gained a 'Doctorate' in the subject of the use of firearms. He listed these individuals as:[4]

  • John Gannaway
  • Rich Wyatt
  • Tom Russell
  • Louis Awerbuck
  • John Pepper
  • Pat Rogers, former Marine and NYPD
  • Clint Smith, a former Marine with two tours of Vietnam and LEO (head of firearms training, SWAT team member).
  • Giles Stock, former LEO and LEO firearms instructor to SWAT teams.
  • Ed Stock
  • Larry Mudgett
  • Marc Heim
  • Michel Röthlisberger

During this time Jeff Cooper and this staff trained many shooters. Many prominent shooters and self-defense practitioners visited Gunsite to receive training or to involve themselves in the development of doctrine and train others. Notable among these were

  • Michael Harries, who invented the "Harries Technique" of flashlight manipulation for use with a pistol, as well as becoming an instructor at Gunsite.
  • King Abdullah of Jordan, who himself was trained at Gunsite, along with members of his staff, while Crown Prince.
  • Dennis Tueller, inventor of the Tueller Drill, became an instructor at Gunsite.
  • John Satterwhite, the team captain of the Olympic skeet shooting squad and holder of several world records for shotgun shooting as well as being an instructor in survival shooting while serving in the military, worked on the doctrine of the use of the shotgun and became an instructor at Gunsite.
  • Actor Tom Selleck
  • Movie producer, director and writer John Milius
  • Actor Jan-Michael Vincent
  • Rex Applegate Junior, son of Rex Applegate
  • Todd J. Rathner, Director of the National Rifle Association

Actor James Caan is sometimes included in the foregoing list, but when he told Cooper than he wanted to learn the Modern Technique for his role in the Michael Mann production, Thief (1981), Cooper declined, reasoning that Caan's character, an ex-con and career criminal, would not have been exposed to such training. Caan and Mann did, however, induce Gunsite's then D.Ops, Galen D. "Chuck" Taylor, to give him a one evening crash course, not in shooting, but looking like he knew how to shoot and move with a handgun. So thorough was Taylor's instruction, that many who saw the movie were convinced that Caan had been through Gunsite.

Gunsite Training Center (1992–1999)[edit]

In 1992 Jeff Cooper sold the American Pistol Institute. Under the new owner the instruction shifted away from Modern Technique as taught by Jeff Cooper, both in content and quality and the school was not well regarded.[5][6][7][8][9] Jeff Cooper dissociated himself from the school. During this time Jeff Cooper held classes occasionally at the National Rifle Association Whittington Center in New Mexico and other locations.[10]

To distinguish between the two schools, graduates of the American Pistol Institute as it was owned by Jeff Cooper pre-1992 refer to this institution as "Orange Gunsite" and to the subsequent operation post-1992 as "Grey Gunsite". This is because when the school was sold by Jeff Cooper, the color scheme was changed from the original color of orange to grey.[11]

Gunsite Academy (1999–present)[edit]

Industry and media representatives checking out new pistols on pistol range 2

On December 10, 1999, the school was sold to a new owner, Buz Mills, himself a graduate of Orange Gunsite, whereupon it was renamed "Gunsite Academy".[2][12] The instruction at the school returned to that of the Modern Technique as taught by Jeff Cooper.[13] Jeff Cooper once more associated himself with the school and took part in the instruction of the classes until his retirement from instruction at the end of 2003. Furthermore, a number of instructors who had been instructors under Jeff Cooper at Orange Gunsite returned to instruct at the school.

Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle (2011)[edit]

Working closely with Sturm, Ruger in the development of the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle which is based on the company's Model 77 and meeting the criteria of the modern scout rifle set forth by Jeff Cooper. The rifle is chambered in .308 Winchester and weighs 7 lbs and sports a 16.5" barrel and black laminate stock. It features ghost-ring iron sights, flash hider and a picatinny rail for optics mounting.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

The email list was originally for graduates of Orange Gunsite and the Gunsite Academy but will now admit graduates of Grey Gunsite and a limited number of other categories of alumni.