Ever since I first walked into a classroom at Gunsite Academy, I knew it triggered the start of something big — a desire to train and learn a gunfighter’s mindset. Attending Gunsite training — renowned internationally as a personal defense training academy, and based on the teachings of the legendary Jeff Cooper — meant I had prepared to enter a new world. I wanted to become a gunfighter, instead of a gun owner. This is my account, in photos, of the last trip to Gunsite that I made in February. Previously, I had only attended sponsored media trips with specific guns for testing. On this, my fourth trip to Gunsite, I took the 250 Defensive Pistol course, where I was on my own dime and my own time.
This is the classic core course upon which many other options are built for improving shooting skills. The 250 Defensive Pistol course is 5 days of range work, some classroom lecture, low light and night shooting, flashlight techniques and learning how to work through a building or house to check that it is clear. I fired almost 1,000 rounds of ammo, and drew at least 1,200 times (dry fire and safety checks).
Gina Miller is a radio and television voice professional from Mississippi. “My husband and I took handgun classes in Mississippi. The man who taught them could not stop talking about Gunsite. He sold us on it … and we knew we needed more training.”
Gina shot a Ruger 1911 in 9mm. It was new to her, since she’d only been shooting revolvers in the past. “I never dreamed I would learn so much. We learned how to handle a semi-automatic pistol — speed-loading drills, malfunction drills, all the basics of handling a firearm have been presented.”
Another class member, Cindy Jerrems, from Tucson, is a new shooter (last October) and has taken a few private instruction classes. She started on a semi-auto. She signed up for this course a month after she started shooting. “In many ways, this experience has been overwhelming, yet wonderful. I learned everything I’d like to be able to do at a competent level. Now I know what I have to go home and practice.”
If you decide to take a course at Gunsite Academy, and there are many to choose from, you might consider checking to see if this house is available. The House on Gunsite Road is located half a mile from the main gate. We stayed there for the week, and found it to be a place to relax and unwind at the end of each day. You can stay in Paulden (20 minutes driving time) or Prescott (35 to 45 minutes driving time), but that extra half hour of sleep or more every morning — especially by the end of the week of training and after the long day that includes night shooting — made a huge difference. The 3-bedroom, 2 bath home sleeps 6 adults. It is laid out in a way that welcomes relaxing, from the leather recliners in the living room, to the back patio with gas grill, to the generously stocked kitchen area. As shooters, we appreciated the gun cleaning bench in the garage, complete with brushes, jags and cleaners. We also liked being able to throw in a load of laundry, so that we didn’t have to pack a week’s worth of range clothes. And the view? Breathtaking.
For more information about Gunsite Academy and its many classes, in Arizona and around the country, visit Gunsite online here.
Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. She is a contributing editor at "SHOT Business," and her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications, including NRA, NSSF and Field & Stream. View all posts by Barbara Baird