Gunsite. The mere mention of that word garners respect across the firearms industry, and with good reason: it’s the gold standard against which all other training schools are measured.

Founded back in 1976 by the late, great Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper under the name “American Pistol Institute” as a way to teach his Modern Technique of the pistol, Gunsite Academy today offers a variety of pistol, carbine, shotgun, general rifle and long-range rifle, CQB and other classes. They’re all taught by an esteemed cadre of world-class instructors to new and experienced shooters alike on more than 20 ranges and simulators scattered over 2,800 acres. In other words, this legendary facility is thriving, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. And that, dear readers, is most definitely a good thing.

When we were at SHOT Show 2017, we had the opportunity to sit down with Ken Campbell, the Chief Operating Officer at Gunsite Academy, to talk about the facility’s 40th anniversary, its influence, its future, staying away from trends, and much more. Check out part one of that chat above. Stay tuned for parts two and three of this interview in the coming days.

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