Range Instructor Shoots Another Instructor

A range instructor was shot by another instructor at a range in Ferris, Texas. The Ennis Daily News reports

Dallas County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Carmen Castro said deputies responded to a call of a shooting at the Texas Defensive Shooting Academy shooting range on Wolf Spring Road oustside Ferris.

Castro said an instructor in the “close combat class” was accidentally shot by another instructor, leaving him with two wounds in the left shoulder and one in the hip.

I have been told that an instructor entered a kill house which he presumed was empty and begun a low light shooting drill. An instructor from a previous class had not left the kill house and was shot three times.

[ Many thanks to Jason for the tip. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Anthony

    Hope he stays alright. I hate to say a lesson from someone else’s pain, but this is why safety is a first in my mind anywhere I go. Mistakes happen, but caution lessens the number of mistakes.

  • Reverend Clint

    shot him 3 times? “Accident”

    • Gidge

      So much for identifying the target before firing!

    • Vtb

      Seems he failed not only in id the target but also in shooting.
      3 shots and the target is still able to make a court…

  • spartan_b88

    Sonny Puzikas I believe?

    • jagersmith

      You are correct, sir.

  • Nicks87

    Now that these “tactical” shooting courses are getting so popular, every half-ass firearms instructor in the U.S. is trying to hop on the band wagon and make a few bucks off of people who want to improve their skills.

    Just some advice, do the research into these so called training facilities before deciding to attended their courses and stick with the reputable ones like Gunsite, thunder ranch, tactical response, etc. Your choice could very well save your life.

    • FormerSFMedic

      While I do agree with you on your point, I don’t think it applies here. Sonny is an outstanding instructor, well known, and has a good reputation. This is just a very unfortunate situation and these things do happen from time to time to even the best in the community. With that said, I have been aware of this incident for awhile and I know that there were some safety protocols that should have been implemented. However, not every school has the same safety standards. This is a good lesson to learn for all of us.

      BTW, stick to reputable companies like Tactical Response? I have mixed feelings about that one.

    • Nicks87

      Really? James Yeager is top notch. He knows his stuff and his instructors do too. He kind of falls into the prepper crowd so I guess if that stuff turns you off you might not like his philosophy.

      I took their fighting rifle course to bursh up on my long gun skills and it was great. I had fun and learned a lot. They do most of their training near Camden, TN so if anyone is interested check them out here:


      • Some guy

        Would you trust an instructor who places a cameraman directly in front of the line of fire? How is that top notch when his curriculum violates fundamental safety rules?

      • Nicks87

        Wow, That is unacceptable. I would like to see more verification that it was Tactical Response but…

        When I was there I didnt see anything remotely like that going on. Thank you for proving my point. If I had seen that video prior to going down there I would not have attened any of their training courses.

    • jagersmith

      Let’s see…Thunder Ranch, yes. Clint is always focused on safety.
      Gunsite: No. Last time I went (and I will never go again), I was muzzled by an instructor, and the same day, and instructor capped off a simunition in the classroom while none of us had eyes or ears on. Total idiocy. As far as Yeager goes, I don’t even have to get into that. There are whole sectors of the internet dedicated to how unsafe his TTPs are.

      • David/Sharpie

        Not to mention JY is one of those “My word is law, everyone else go f**k themselves” people.

        I was banned from his YouTube videos because he completely disrespected someone who asked a question and I defended the other guy, I also argued with him over something as well.

  • noob

    wow. that totally sucks.

    Hmm. I wonder if in these complex killhouse environments is oldschool range safety enough?

    What about a simple paper based sign-in sign-out system – If there is no sign out time in the book, get on the PA and ask the guy in there to get out! It’s your booking!

    better than eating lead at work.

    If that doesn’t work, take a leaf from the electrician’s book and have lockout padlocks. If you see a padlock on the hasp securing a simple bar at face height across the doorframe (door is open) *do not go through*. somebody with the key for that padlock is inside the range.

    If you want to, and it’s your booking, you can put your padlock on his padlock and then he has to talk to you to get his lock back.

    If all that fails, maybe we need to augment all the procedural precautions with head to toe ballistic armour for RSO inside 3d, 360 environments.

  • Lance

    Always shout and make sure your going HOT on any range.

  • anon

    Around Sonny Pukizas, never relax.

  • NickB

    “Wow they even made these targets scream when you shoot them”

  • SAPH

    That was a horrible accident that should never have happened. On a game reserve were I worked for a bit the anti poaching unit had a kill house they had a simple lock out system, a chain at the enterance with a lock on it. only the instructor had the key to it, it seemed to work well

    • Meridian

      Game reserve anti-poaching unit has a kill house? WTH?

  • CUrob

    Devastating safety lesson…

    In construction we use a simple premise that would work perfect here… Lock out/Tag Out. Each instructor has a their own identified single key lock and would have to lock a gate / chain / “range hot” light, and no one else can remove his lock.

  • gunslinger

    was he shot directly, or through the wall? i’ve been through a number of OSHA trainings for the various production plants i’ve worked/consulted at and they all have procedures for “dangerous” work. either LOTO for electrical, confined space, hot work, roof/heights, etc…

    i’m surprised this “kill house” didn’t have anything similar.

  • Esh325

    Are just joking by saying it was Sonny Puzikas? Because I never read anywhere that he was involved in it.

    • FormerSFMedic

      @Esh325 Yeah, it was Sonny. The instructor that was shot is Gene Smithson. Sonny has taken full responsibility for his actions. He has taken care of Gene’s instructing responsibilities while Gene recovers and is also taking care of Gene’s family.

  • A speedy recovery to Gene.

  • Alan

    Did the incident occur during a military/LEO only training course or a course that was open to civilians? I was under the impression insurance companies would not cover training schools that offered this type of course to civilians.

  • Any live fire shoot house or range with completely opaque barriers should use a tag board. All instructors and students on that range would have two tags, one stays on the board and one is worn whenever they enter the shoot house to shoot, do scoring, act as an RO, reset targets, etc. When leaving the shoot house their wearable tag is returned to the board under their marker tag and before the next group enters the RO must visually verify that the ONLY tags not present are those of the group he is taking in. Failure to tag in/out should be taken EXTREMELY seriously especially among instructors and range personnel who must be the examples for their students. Such tag systems are used extensively in industrial operations involving hazardous environments and work wonderfully if taken seriously.

  • Tony

    Glad it was not a Mozambique Drill

  • D

    Accidents happen. I gotta think this is one of the only shoot-house accidents that’ll happen this year.

    • Which is likely due to the fact that most organizations running shoot houses don’t play fast and loose with safety like these guys apparently did (and like I’ve watched Sonny do in vids.) Someone taking a few shards of jacketing/lead or a ricochet is an accident, an assistant instructor being plugged three times by the lead instructor is systemic failure of the worst kind. A green shooter getting disoriented and the RO not being able to control him quick enough before rounds are fired in an unsafe direction is one thing, a guy who is practically a posterboy for over-the-top tactical assclownery finally reaping the rewards for his egoism…pure negligence.

    • Gidge

      Accidents happen but 95% of un intentional firearms related injuries and deaths are preventable acts of stupidity. NOT ACCIDENTS

      This strikes me as one of them. The fact that he fired without checking his target, the lack of a Tag in Tag Out system and the fact that he didn’t shout out to make sure the range was clear.

      Guns are dangerous, and need to be treated with the proper respect. It doesn’t take a huge amount of brainpower to eliminate most of the risks involved in shooting yet people still manage to botch the most basic safety precautions.

  • Scott
  • That meets the definition of catastrophe; one mistake compounded by another mistake compounded by another. Then, the defense is always, “That’s the way we’ve always done it!”

    Fortuitous outcomes breed bad tactics.

  • Nicks87

    I inquired further about the video that was posted on this page that was allegedly shot at a Tactical Response training course where a camera man is standing down range during live fire training. I asked weather the video was authentic and the response I got was:

    GO FUCK YOURSELF, from James Yeager himself.

    So, take this info however you want but I think it says a lot for the attitude of those associated with TR. I will continue to get the majority of my training from FLETA accredited schools. For those of you that dont have that luxury, do the research and ask around before you attend any kind of firearms related training. Dont put your life in the hands of some irresponsible, wannabe tough guy and if you see someone doing something unsafe dont be afraid to let them know.

    • David/Sharpie

      See, what did I say about JY?

      • Nicks87

        Yeah it was a total slap in the face but its ok, now I know where to NOT spend money on training in the future.

      • David/Sharpie

        Yeah, it REALLY pissed me off when he blocked me for disagreeing with him.

  • Anon

    None of the details described manage to answer the one question that seems most relevant to me:

    Was the shooter firing at a static target, and his rounds simply passed through the barricades into the other instructor? Or did he enter a room in which the instructor was standing, and commence firing without identifying his target?

    It seems rather improbable that three rounds would manage to pass through and all score hits on the other instructor…then again the shot placement sounds pretty terrible for deliberately aimed shots.

  • Mike Knox

    Must have been a bad-ass to survive three shots in close quarters..

  • LibertyorDeath

    Sonny is a VERY knowledgeable and talented individual who has a lot to offer those who want to pressure test what they are being taught. His training syllabus will leave you with plenty to mull over.

    The one area he got caught slipping was the lack of standard SOP for shoot house safety. What was needed was 1) more than just a single AI to handle 42 students. 2) He should have done a quick recon of the shoot house and had the remaining folks clear out before commencing his drill. 3) The tactical folks who train for utopian scenarios have excoriated him for not having a white light while maneuvering through a dark shoothouse; well lit places have been known to black out when lights are shot out and if one knows that only BGs are present……Esoteric? Yes. Unheard of? No.

    I’d still train with him again when the opportunity arises.

    • HomeGunTraining

      42 students is just too damn many if you’ve only got 2 instructors. I don’t even do basic handgun with more than 4 students per instructor.

    • HomeGunTraining

      I agree. Having trained with Sonny, he is one of the best instructors out there for pressure testing force on force, knives and unarmed combatives.

      Such shame since it is one of those “never live it down” moments. Especially since this industry is a bit of a men’s sewing circle at times.


  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BloR0mZsAAM

    So, that video features John Giduck, a poser who tried to sue SOFREP when they outed him for his blatant lies about his background and Sonny Puzikas. Is there any other connection between these two? Mutual references?