For its first East Coast operations, an Arizona firearms training company has Richmond in its crosshairs.
Arizona-based Gunsite Academy has struck a deal to once a month set up shop at Colonial Shooting Academy at 6020 W. Broad St. The arrangement makes the West End indoor shooting range the exclusive East Coast site for Gunsite’s classes, designed originally for military and law enforcement personnel.
Beginning in September, Gunsite once a month will fly its instructors to Colonial Shooting Academy and offer a five-day course intended to improve gun handling confidence and competence for people of every experience level. The course includes range work, lectures and intensive live-fire simulators.
Known as the 250 Defensive Pistol Course, the program costs about $1,600 for adults and is also offered at lower prices for children.
Peyton Lacy, a spokeswoman for Colonial Shooting Academy, said the deal between the two sides took about three months to complete. The agreement came about after Lacy gave an impromptu two-hour tour of her company’s 60,000-square-foot West Broad Street facility to Gunsite CEO Buzz Mills, who was visiting family in the area at the time.
“We basically cooked up this idea of a partnership,” Lacy said. “We’re excited to pair with someone who has been so influential in the industry.”
Gunsite was founded in 1976 by Jeff Cooper on 300 acres in northern Arizona. Cooper was a Marine who studied firearms encounters.
Mills said Cooper, who died in 2006, is credited with creating the “modern technique” of handgun shooting.
“He codified what works and what doesn’t work in the late ’60s and early ’70s,” Mills said.
Today, Gunsite’s Arizona location has grown to 2,000 acres, where it trains the likes of the CIA, FBI and police departments from across the country.
In bringing the operation to Richmond, both companies agreed that Gunsite wouldn’t strike similar deals anywhere else along the East Coast, except Maine and Florida, for at least the next year. The agreement is expected to last beyond that. The companies will share the profits brought in by the classes.
Mills said adding a second location has been a long time coming for Gunsite.
“I’d been looking for some time for someone we could partner with in the mid-Atlantic area,” he said. “By the time I discovered (Colonial Shooting Academy) and went in there and visited the facility and got to talking with the folks, it just worked out to be like a hand in a glove – a natural fit for us.”
Mills said he was looking for an indoor facility so rain couldn’t interrupt Gunsite’s multi-day courses and said Richmond is an ideal location because of its proximity to dense population areas like Washington, D.C., and North Carolina.
Mills said he was also impressed with Colonial Shooting’s responsible and professional approach.
“They seem to have it all together,” he said. “We’re going to hang together and make it all happen in Richmond.”
Colonial Shooting Academy opened its facility in Richmond in 2012. It opened a second facility last year in Virginia Beach.