Most people know me as a nationally ranked competitor on the practical handgun competition circuit, but fail to realize that I have extensive formal training and experience in the military and law enforcement, as an operational officer/Marine as well as in all phases of training development.
Shooting has not been my only passion, and I have more than 15 years of experience in various martial arts holding multiple ranks including a Black Belt in Okinawan freestyle karate.
A More Complete Resume:
• I am A combat veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, with five years of active duty and four years of reserve duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, as an intelligence specialist and primary marksmanship instructor. Prior to receiving my honorable discharge in 2000, I was attached to a federal multi-agency task force investigating large-scale international drug trafficking.
• From 1995-98, I was employed by the Knox County (TN) Sheriffs Departments Corrections division and was a member of its highly trained Special Operations Response Team. From 1998-2001, I worked as a police officer for the Knoxville (TN) Police Department where I was assigned as a patrol officer and also as an investigator for the Organized Crime section, investigating narcotics and vice-related crimes at the local, state and federal levels.
• Previously I was the President, C.O.O., and the Director of Training at the United States Shooting Academy. I am a federally certified instructor, curriculum developer, and adjunct instructor and have extensive experience teaching firearms, combatives, tactics, and control tactics.
• Previously, I was a Senior Instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, S.C.
• Prior to that I served as the Branch Chief and Lead Instructor for the Federal Air Marshal firearms division, as well as instructing in the tactics and physical training divisions at the Federal Air Marshal training center in Atlantic City, N.J.
I was responsible for the development, implementation and supervision of all firearms and tactical shoot-house instruction for the Federal Air Marshal service basic training. In addition, I was credentialed as a Federal Air Marshal, providing counter-terrorism security to commercial American air carriers nationwide.
I am the recipient of numerous awards and honors in the law enforcement community, and as a semi-professional shooter.
While training part time, I have placed highly in every major practical type championship on the circuit and have more than a 25 titles at major matches including state and area matches in IPSC and IDPA style matches including two national championships at the I.D.P.A. (B.U.G.) gun nationals and a world championship (Steel Challenge production division). I am currently ranked as a grandmaster (the highest rank obtainable) by the United States Practical Shooting Association.
I actually began my competitive shooting training to increase my skill level to better prepare myself for the tactical environment I found myself in.
After getting my feet wet I found myself training to win national competitions, while analyzing and applying those performance rules to key areas of a performance.
In 2010 I came out with a course called "Your Competition Handgun Training Program" that put everything I learned shooting on the practical circuit in a step-by-step guide that has helped thousands of shooter shoot better in their competition handgun matches like USPSA and IDPA.
I have authored more than 20 lesson plans specifically related to basic and advanced firearms training, and am trained in curriculum design. I have chaired numerous curriculum development conferences. In addition to developing curriculum for federal agencies, I am a published author with four books and five DVDs on the market, and an extensive online training library of over 400 videos for competitive shooting and personal defense.
These step-by-step programs I've created for shooters is something I wish I had when I was starting out.
I can still remember how excited I was in 1995 when I moved to Knoxville, TN and had the opportunity to get my first concealed carry permit.
My best friend and I took the course, got our carry cards and immediately started carrying on a daily basis.
This was the first time I had been given the experience of carrying a handgun full time except for my combat time in the USMC. We took the responsibility seriously and began to train as often as possible.
Our monthly training was very simple: we would visit the nearest gun show and buy one ammo can full of remanufactured ammunition and then hit the range once a week.
In 1998 I was hired full-time by the Knoxville Police Department - and as an avid shooter now dedicating myself to training two to three times per week, I was vice president of my academy class and took the Top Gun award at the range.
I had acquired enough skill and local notoriety that I was teaching small groups in the Knoxville area, but nothing at the professional level. In addition, I was not a trained instructor and basically just tried to informally pass on what I knew.
My first chance to attend formal instruction and become an instructor while I was a police officer in Knoxville, Tennessee, was appealing for a simple reason: I was a shooter and I wanted access to firing ranges - and to get free ammo…Thats it!
I wanted more bullets, range time, and an opportunity to shoot, and if becoming a firearms instructor led to that, I thought it would fulfill my purpose in life.
As a police officer in Knoxville, I went to my first instructor development course, taught by sergeant Gary Shaffer, a twenty-year veteran of KPD and former Vietnam-era Marine. The course was incredible and really opened my eyes regarding instructor preparation and methods of instruction.
While I graduated from the course, I was not selected to be a firearms instructor. At that particular time with the KPD you had to be a graduate of the instructor development course, and after two years with the department, you could be selected to be a firearms instructor.
Before I could get to that point, everything changed in our world. On September 11, 2001 the infamous airline hijackings and catastrophic crashes stunned the world, and particularly the Federal Air Marshal Service.
When 9/11 happened, there were around thirty-three Federal Air Marshals, TOTAL. This small handful of operator could cover only a tiny fraction of the total number of flights.
After 9/11, that number grew exponentially over the next few months and years…and as of today there are between 3,000-4,000 FAMs traveling on flights worldwide!
Th FAM training cadre was tasked with putting a certain number of Air Marshals on planes by specific dates, so the pressure was on to train these Air Marshals - and to train them to be the best.
How I got hired as such a young buck to train the FAM against all these elite retired military guys is a story for another time, but all I will say is that I didn't think I stood a chance AND I could've sworn the guy interviewing me hated me!
So imagine my surprise when the following Tuesday I got a call - and a job offer!
This was December of 2001 and the ramp-up for the Federal Air Marshal Service was in full swing, and I was young - twenty-eight- with only informal instructing under my belt.
I had taught some people at the range who wanted to learn to shoot like I shot, but had no formal firearms instruction experience.
The truth was, compared to al the elite-level ex-military instructors they were brining in, I was in minor league.
Most of the instructors on the cadre, the civilian instructors who were charged with running all the instructing that was done at the Air Marshal Academy, were the very best in their profession.
Brad Delauter, a contributor to my Art of Instruction book, was one of these elite instructors and it was an eye-opening experience to meet him and the rest of the cadre- a kind of “who’s who” of the military and different government agencies.
When I was hired the initial cadre had two Marines (one from special operations and one from the sniper community), a Navy SEAL from the original SEAL Team Six, a retired Atlantic City SWAT operator, a sniper and famous instructor, and others- these guys were some of the very best from America’s elite groups.
Then there was me. So how would my skills as a shooter translate to being an instructor? And how would I fare compared to these professionals?
I knew how to shoot, but these men knew how to train, how to instruct.
Think for a moment of the nearly unparalleled situations Air Marshals must face. They must be ready to intervene on an airplane and respond to an incredibly wide range of threats -
Often alone, and without backup…their skills will be the difference between life and death.
This can require using lethal force on an airplane, with firearms that can blow holes in pressurized vehicles flying at thigh altitudes and speeds.
Lives would depend on my ability to teach Federal Air marshals - the men and women we were to train- to face an incredibly stressful situation at 35,000 feet in the skies.
It was an intimidating, weighty task.
If their instructors did not provide these Air Marshals with the needed knowledge and ability, it wouldn’t be just their lives - it could be the lives of the individuals onboard that airplane, and potentially even more lives on the ground if those aircraft were used as weapons as happened on 9/11.
When I first got the job with the Federal Air Marshal service, there was not a dedicated instructor-training program for the cadre before being in front of students. I was instructing in a week (well, actually I thought I was instructing, but Brad D. might beg to differ until I had developed a bit). Again, this was intimidating - I was working with these elite-level instructors and with an incredibly high caliber of people in training.
None of these Air Marshals or the other instructors were entry-level or inexperienced.
But when it came time to shoot in competition against this group, I didn’t just hold my own - I smoked them! I out-shot them, and this did much for my confidence. Our man-on-man shoot-offs pitted our speed, accuracy, and coolness under pressure against one another, and I distinguished myself.
OK, I had the skills down. Now, could I instruct?
My instruction eventually led me to establish myself among the elite peer group at the Federal Air marshal program as the official lead instructor of the firearm program (during an initial Phase I and later Phase II training)
How did this happen? Excellence and an unwavering pursuit of making the program and myself better.
I had the knowledge and certainly possessed a high level of skill in the areas I was tasked to teach.
Through trial and error and excellent mentorship, I gained experience as an instructor.
I probably looked like a fish out of water when I first started instructing…until it came to what I know - shooting. When we started talking about shooting, I was in my element.
This is what I loved - trigger time.
I did one thing to set the tone with my students and establish that I was worth listening to: I did a shooting demonstration.
The second your students look at you as an instructor and say, “I want to be able to do that”, they'll soak everything you say in like a sponge.
I tell you this story for a couple reasons:
1) I wanted to show you I not only have a passion for shooting but for instructing as well
2) I shot better than my elite peers in a head-to-head match
3) I had an unwavering pursuit in making the program and myself better
That was 18 years ago and I have been constantly developing and perfecting my training programs over that time.
Because there is so much bad information out there that I usually have to correct a students bad form before we can work on actually growing and improving shooting skills.
These are foundational videos - one's that I feel it is my duty as a professional instructor to give to anyone who wants to learn this information.
However over the past 5 years I have recorded 16 complete training programs for personal defense and competitive shooting.
These all come with step-by-step instructions to follow so all you need to do is put in the work to see the results.
Until Then - Train Hard!