I had grown up reading about Ray Chapman, the man the late, great Jeff Cooper called “the maestro” of practical handgun shooting, and got to meet him in Los Angeles in 1978 during a practice session for the National Championships of IPSC, the International Practical Shooting Confederation.  I was running a particularly difficult stage, and since he was watching I asked, “Mr. Chapman, could you give me any pointers?”  He replied that I should start the stage with my toes pointed in a slightly different direction, and should slap the barricade (the second firing point of the stage) with my support hand when I reached it.

I remember thinking “Wow, big deal…the World Champion’s only advice is move my toes and slap some wood.”  But I tried it…and cut a significant few seconds off my time on the next run. The slight change in foot angle had saved me a turn as I started the run, and the slap on the wall brought me to a stop and into firing position on the barricade much more quickly.  Ray Chapman had just given me my first preview of his extraordinary coaching ability.

I got to his Chapman Academy advanced pistol school in Columbia (actually adjacent Hallsville), Missouri a couple of years later, and wound up teaching with him for many years.  Trained as an engineer, Chapman brought an engineer’s analytical eye to teaching the gun, and I learned more from him than from any of my many other mentors over the decades of my shooting career.

Ray’s retirement and subsequent death were sad chapters in firearms training, as was the temporary shutdown of the Academy program.  2012 is a banner year in that Chapman Academy is now open for teaching again, at the same famously well-equipped facility!  Head of the program now is Rich Greiner, one of Ray’s protégés. There is no doubt in my mind that Rich will continue Ray’s successful approach of starting with accuracy and building to speed.

I’m delighted to see Chapman Academy open again. What you learn there can cut years off a trial-and-error learning curve in making you a fast, accurate shooter.  Info is available at http://www.chapmanacademyofpracticalshooting.com/.  I’m proud to be a Chapman Academy alumnus, and believe me, you will be, too.

The Chapman Academy is open again…

…in the picturesque Missouri heartland, on the same great facility that has hosted the Bianchi Cup since 1979…

…and now headed by Rich Greiner, one of Ray Chapman’s proteges.



  1. That’s wonderful news Mas. I feared that after John and Ray’s sad deaths that the doors of a wonderful teaching institution had closed forever. What a thrill to see that Rich has stepped up to keep the long and outstanding tradition of Chapman Academy alive.

    I still look back fondly to our :Big Dogs” Instructor’s course You and I put together in 2003 at Chapman Academy. What fun we had. So much was learned, such wonderful friendships and competitions forged and what a thrill it was that Ray Chapman himself joined us for that high stress but enjoyable week.

    I wish Rich nothing but the best in restoring Chapman Academy to the top rated facility that it has always been.

    Thanks for sharing this exciting news.

  2. Good words, Mas. My first excursion there was when you and Ray taught together in 1983. I returned in 1988 for a repeat and then an Advanced course with Ray in 1990. It was a sad day when Ray passed. I learned more from the two of you than I have in any other training over the last thirty years. The two of you have brought firearms training well into the 21st century. I hope you receive the recognition you deserve for your contributions to this field. Stay safe.

  3. I remember the first time I watched Ray shoot. At the 1982 IPSC Nationals at Moline, IL, I watched him shoot a stage. It seemed he took his time getting between shooting points, there was a noticable pause after his draw, then his shots were like one. I remember thinking he wasn’t very fast. But when the time was talleyed, he was very quick indeed. He just made it look so effortless, you got the impression he was going slow.

    He was also very gracious to inexperienced competitors. I think that competition was also the first time I saw this guy named Ayoob shoot. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to speak with him.

  4. Mas, thank you for the good news!….that brings back memories, for back in the very early 1980s, when i had one week of vacation from my new job, i spent it driving from NC, sleeping in my car overnight in southern Indiana and driving the rest of the way to Missouri to shoot the basic pistol classes for five days with Ray Chapman before returning – and I, too, can recall his first helpful hints and admonitions that helped greatly in my study of the 1911. I even had a couple of classes with you and Ray down in Florida (Do you recall teaching with Ray at the Chapman Academy South?)

    My wife and I hope to see you soon down in SC this November and it will be good to see if we remember the same things from those earlier days. My wife just said ‘let’s go plan to visit the Chapman Academy in the future….” Looking forward to seeing you late this year…

  5. Lotsa good memories there, folks. Thanks.

    Linda, that WAS an awesome class.

    David, thanks for the kind words. Teaching with Ray was a humbling experience, and a most instructive one.

    Parson, you weren’t the only one who spotted that. Ray’s mantra was “smoothness is five-sixths of speed,” and he was so smooth he looked as if he was shooting in slow motion…until you saw the timer readout.

    Harry, the Chapman Academy South courses in Okeechobee were full of fun. Look forward to reminiscing with you in South Carolina later this year.

    Uncle Dave, he did that for a lot of us.

  6. Never had the chance to meet him, glad his legacy is carrying on. I would like to try IPSC or some other shooting competition sometime. Currently sporting clays are my money pit. But I know my Sig GSR would love the workout (well me too).

  7. Mas, I want to be apart of this experience, right now I feel this school is close enough for me to reach and attend. I’m looking forward to the experience.

  8. Massad, this is where you trained us in the “Officer Survival” course. An outstanding course! Here I am 30 plus years later, it must have worked. 😉 Thanks!
    It was an outstanding course, with top notch, knowledgeable instructors! We stayed, by invitation, for the “First Annual Missouri Police Combat Invitational” the following weekend. Sorry you weren’t able to stay, but on the other hand I would have placed lower I’m afraid. I’m sure you, in addition to Ray, would have bet me too. 😉 Again, putting those valuable skills to the test, shows what an outstanding course it was.
    My wife is taking the Lady’s Only course tomorrow. I’m looking forward to seeing the place again and learning of upcoming courses. I’ll be enrolling as schedule permits.

  9. Massad, just thinking of you and Ray and the enjoyable FL courses and had not heard about Ray’s passing. Sorry to hear it. I’m the guy who had the 45 colt with the bored out barrel and the wallet holster that went undetected for a week. Have now moved permanently to S America (Uruguay) and joined the shooting community here (a big one). Great bunch of people and true to the form for the shooting community worldwide. We have more guns per capita than any country in the world. Very peaceful here. Uruguay always places well in International competitions worldwide. Glad to be afforded the opportunity to live here. Best of luck. Have you published any more books?

  10. Never had the pleasure of meeting Ray Chapman. I did however attend three courses at Chapman when John Skaggs was my instructor. John really made a difference in my shooting. So glad to hear the Academy has started up again.
    I wish all involved the best of luck. I consider it a privilege to be an alumni of such a great organization.