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Defense Associates

Overview and Staff

In the beginning, there was the American Pistol Institute (later renamed Gunsite). Founded by Jeff Cooper in Paulden, AZ it was at the time the only option for the citizen seeking quality instruction in defensive shooting and it remains one of the better organizations in the field. Today however, anyone seeking such instruction has a tremendous number of training opportunities from which to choose. Even a quick internet search will turn up what seems like a never-ending list of training courses available in most states from both local instructors and those who travel the country.

Unfortunately the variety of shooting techniques and tactics advocated, as well as the instructional methods in use, vary to such a degree that successfully selecting the training most appropriate for your needs/goals has become nearly impossible without already possessing a considerable amount of knowledge about the subject. In addition, some of the techniques taught are tactically or legally suspect when analyzed in depth.

Prior to our entering the training field, we had come in contact with most of the major instructors of the period and had determined that the courses developed by Chuck Taylor through his American Small Arms Academy and by Massad Ayoob via the Lethal Force Institute were (and remain) the best available. Since developing programs superior to those provided by Taylor and Ayoob was not going to happen, working with these instructors was obviously the only way to provide future clients with the best training available. Defense Associates therefore became an authorized extension of their two schools. Our courses are their programs, taught by instructors trained and certified by them and it is they that issue our certificates. (In-depth Details about these instructors and their courses will be found on their own pages on this site.)

Our own training, and later observations, proved to us that an effective self-defense shooting system must be just that - a system. The individual techniques used to accomplish the various tasks involved must be based on a common concept and interrelated, not where one is plucked from school "A", another from school "B", etc. then somehow woven together. It has to address the three liabilities always present when using deadly force - tactical, criminal and civil. The techniques included should also:
1. Be those that are minimally degraded by stress (stress can be extremely debilitating).
2. Be able to be mastered by anyone with normal physical abilities.
3. Only require minimal practice time to be maintained at an acceptable level.
4. Minimize the potential to shoot when it is inappropriate.
5. Be as non-threatening as possible to bystanders and witnesses.

While Taylor and Ayoob had a wide variety of experience prior to developing their programs, this is the exception today not the rule. A majority of today's instructors base their curriculums exclusively on their own training and experiences either in the military, as police officers or successful competitive shooters. If their perspective is based solely on this experience, you may find that the training they provide is less than fully appropriate for your needs. Those excelling at competition usually like to compete and possess above average eyesight and/or physical ability so are unconcerned with #1 through #3 above. Going straight from the military without significant exposure to the civilian criminal justice system usually results in little or no thought given to #4 & #5. As to the police, law enforcement has never been known for innovative techniques.

Don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying if one comes from any of these backgrounds they can't be an excellent instructor, far from it. However I am saying you need to know if an instructor has a limited perspective of the subject before you can decide if they will fulfill your needs.

Our classes place a heavy emphasis on weapon handling (efficient & safe manipulation) and presentation (getting on target from the ready and/or holster), they are not just about "trigger time". In most cases, at the end of a course you will have shot less than at a "comparable" class at other schools but improved more. A good "rule of thumb" is that a training program's effectiveness is inversely proportionate to the number of rounds fired in it. While a certain amount of actual live fire is of course necessary to develop the desired skills it is much less than most schools engage in. Anyone can fill class time with shooting, but in truth live fire should be a validation that the weapon handling and shooting fundamentals taught have been properly assimilated and correctly developed.

To attend any of our classes you must preregister. Repeat students can do so by phone or mail. First time students must submit either a copy of their carry permit (CCW), law enforcement I.D. or a character reference from either a judge, lawyer or police department stating they have no history of criminal or violent behavior, drug use or alcohol abuse. An enrollment form can be printed from our "Training Application" page. Space availability, date changes, additional classes, etc. can be found on our Training Update page.

Students should have a basic knowledge of firearms safety and the operation of their weapon(s) before attending class. ASAA handgun courses must be taken in sequence and for safety reasons the Three-Day Handgun course is a prerequisite for the Handgun Clinics or Tactical Seminars.

If you need additional information about any of our courses please feel free to contact us via email or to call from 6 PM to 10 PM Monday through Thursday.



Frank Cornwall 
Mr. Cornwall is one of two ASAA Senior Staff members instructing on the East Coast. He began working with ASAA in 1986 and LFI the following year. He was appointed the regional training coordinator for both schools in 1990. In 1992 he became one of only a dozen shooters to successfully complete the ASAA Combat Master (Handgun) course since it was devised in 1981, the following year he become one of five, off-site ASAA instructors. He is one of only two people who is both an ASAA Rifle & Pistol Instructor and authorized to conduct the firearms training for MAG40.

Mr. Cornwall has been certified by the National Law Enforcement Training Center as a Handgun Retention and Disarming Instructor and holds NRA Instructor ratings for Pistol, Rifle and Shotgun. He is full voting member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI) and a NRA Endowment Member. He was also one of the first instructors in CT to be certified by Simunition specifically under their new civilian Range Program.


Gary Nalband
Mr. Nalband is one of two ASAA Senior Staff members instructing on the East Coast. He became a range officer and assistant instructor at ASAA and LFI courses in Connecticut in 1988. In 1992 he became one of the first twelve to successfully complete the ASAA Combat Master (Handgun) course and the following year completed training to become one of only five, off-site ASAA instructors. He is one of only two people who is certified both as ASAA Rifle & Pistol Instructor and to conduct firearms training for LFI1 and the first ASAA Combat Master / LFI3 graduate.

Mr. Nalband is a certified NRA Pistol, Rifle and Shotgun Instructor and Life member.

Auxiliary Staff
Depending on the class & its size one or more Defense Associates trained assistant instructors may be in attendance. All these instructors have multiple year training experience before assisting in instruction.


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