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Ray's shooting career began at the age of 16 as a Marine in WWII. Many of his principles for defensive shooting came from this experience. His activities as a law enforcement officer reinforced them. At the request of fellow officers he began teaching these principles. He perfected his skills and became involved in competitive shooting. Ray went on to win more than 250 major shooting tournaments. The most prestigious was the inaugural World Championship of Practical Shooting in 1975.
The demands for his teaching became such that he took early retirement as an engineer and moved to Columbia, Missouri, to open the Chapman Academy of Practical Shooting. As Rays reputation grew his school also gained a reputation for excellence among shooters. Ray strives for perfection in everything he does. That effort is reflected in the course curriculums offered at the Academy. Ray always incorporates new techniques to improve the presentation and content of the programs.
Ray reduced his participation in the hands-on instruction of the Academy after fifty years of shooting and teaching. His personal involvement now consists of working with certain returning groups.
Ray's influence at the Academy continues through the instruction of his long time associate and Director John Skaggs, and the staff they have trained. Effective shot placement, moving quickly, and using cover are the three essentials of practical defensive shooting. They are continually emphasized when any of Ray's instructors are teaching.
Like Ray, John's shooting career started in uniform, but as a law enforcement officer. Before John had received any formal training he was involved in an armed confrontation with a robber. John was periodically involved in such armed situations throughout his entire law enforcement career. These convinced him of the value of quality training which he endeavors to provide to Chapman Academy students.
John eventually received basic law enforcement training and went on to receive advanced formal firearms training ranging from the University of Illinois to the Department of the Treasury Secret Service Firearm Instructor course. His Chief appointed John as the Firearms Instructor of the department as a result of his training and experience. John was selected to be the Firearms Training Coordinator of the Region 4 Mobile Law Enforcement Training Unit in Illinois in addition to his duties as a street officer. Blackhawk College of Moline, Illinois awarded John the status of Adjunct Associate Professor in Criminal Justice in 1981.
In 1984, John attended the Chapman Academy Police Survival School and returned in 1986 as an instructor. When Ray semi-retired he promoted John to Chief Instructor of the Chapman Academy. Johns 10 years of experience with Ray fully familiarized him with the Chapman curriculum. He has an unmatched insight into Ray's concept of practical shooting.
John suffered a stroke in June of 2004, and has not yet been able to resume his teaching. Some in the industry have written about John's experience, and how his training has helped others. His fellow instructors are still in close contact with John, and wish him continued progress in the difficult recovery process.