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(Photo by Gunsite Academy)

The Gunsite Academy 40th anniversary is set for Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016.

The legendary training school, which was founded by the late Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper and his wife Janelle under the name “American Pistol Institute,” offered its first course in late September 1976. As the press release notes, Col. and Mrs. Cooper thought the rolling hills and high desert of northern Arizona near Prescott would be perfect for their new shooting school.

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Col. and Mrs. Cooper chose wisely. What started as just two ranges and one live-fire shoot house on 160 acres is now over 20 ranges and simulators over 2,800 acres.

In 1999, Buz and Sonja Mills, the current owners, purchased the school and made some crucial improvements, including expanding the acreage, adding new ranges — which are named after Medal of Honor recipients — upgrading roads and more.

Gunsite offers a wide variety of realistic, real-world-based training, including various pistol, carbine, shotgun, general rifle and long-range rifle classes, CQB, edged and impact weapon, “Citizen Response to Active Shooters” classes, Tactical Emergency Medicine and more, according to the press release. You’re in good hands at Gunsite, as all the faculty members are world-class instructors and experts from across the country.

RELATED STORY: 3 Range Drills for Developing Accuracy, Speed & the Ability to Shoot Under Pressure

Gunsite training takes place in traditional “square” ranges and specialized simulators and shoot houses. In the simulators, which are challenging asymmetrical indoor and outdoor environments, students have to successfully negotiate a number of ever-changing and evolving tactical issues. To up the ante even more, these simulators are sometimes used at night to offer an additional challenge, and some highly-advanced classes feature “force-on-force” engagements.

To learn more, including what’s on tap for the Gunsite Academy 40th anniversary this weekend, visit

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