Learn from the Best

Sonoran Desert Institute

Our management team members have come from expansive backgrounds in higher education, and our faculty brings years of industry-specific experience to the SDI student experience.

Learn From The Best

Everyone’s heard the phrase “you’re only as strong as your weakest link.” When it comes to the leadership at SDI, there are no weak links. Our management team members have come from expansive backgrounds in higher education, and our faculty brings years of industry-specific experience to the SDI student experience. We understand that it can be difficult to connect with instructors at some online programs, and we work hard to make this process as individualized as possible. For example, our online firearms technology program was recently re-vamped using insights from our SDI instructors. That means that our instructors are not only experienced, they’re more than well-versed in the SDI curriculum specifically. We are proud of our faculty and staff and aim to offer each of our students an easy way to get the help they need throughout their entire tenure as a member of the SDI family.

Advisory Council

Dan G. O’Kelly

Ramsey Ateih

Ramsey Atieh is currently President of American Business & Technology University. Ramsey attended Northwest Missouri State University as a football player on scholarship and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.His initial goal while attending school was to be a teacher, but Ramsey has gone on to do much more. After working for a few years as an advisor and mentor to student athletes and as a coach on the football team, Ramsey decided to attend the University of Missouri, where he received his Doctorate in Education, focusing on educational leadership and policy analysis. Ramsey then stepped into the family business started by his father and brother—American Business and Technology University. Ramsey’s role at the school initially was as the Director of Admissions, but it quickly expanded, and he now works as the university’s President.At American Business & Technology University, Ramsey has focused on student performance, dropout rates, and quality of classes, in addition to overseeing the philosophical direction of the school. One of the changes that he has made along the way is focusing on project-based learning over final examinations,which studies have found can lead to more retention of the material learned. The role that Ramsey Atieh has played in the building of American Business and Technology University cannot be understated. In addition to focusing on his role as president, Ramsey developed the school’s enrollment processes, built tracking processes for student academic activity, and helped to develop individual programs. This dedication has certainly paid dividends as American Business and Technology University has become an impressively successful school. The Atieh family includes Ramsey’s wife and 11-year-old son.They are a very active family and his son is a passionate trap and skeet shooter with his Mossberg® youth mini .410. When he is not working, Ramsey has been spending most of his time with his son, rebuilding a truck to haul his boat as the family takes part in their continuing outdoor adventures as well as turkey hunting in the mountains of Missouri.

Chris Barrett

Chris Barrett

Chris Barrett, son of iconic gun designer Ronnie Barrett was born and raised in Murfreesboro Tennessee. During his childhood, Barrett Firearms Mfg. was located at the family residence where Chris would help assemble rifles and literally grew up in the firearms industry.

Chris graduated from high school in 1996 and like his father went straight into business taking a fulltime job at Barrett Firearms. Chris turned everything upside down by introducing new production ideas to the business. He ushered in modern equipment in all areas of the design and manufacturing process. He discontinued the practice of hand drawn prints and pencil sketched gun designing by instituting computer 3D modeling and CAD tools and techniques.

Teaming with his father, they began co-designing improved components for the current product line. In 1998, they prototyped a radically new design semi auto 338 caliber rifle. In 1999, new upstart competition introduced an entry level .50 cal rifle that cut into Barrett’s civilian market. Chris responded quickly and within a few months designed the Model 99, a sleek single shot rifle that captured that market with overwhelming success.

Becoming the lead designer for the company, Chris rapid fired many new designs into the company product line such as the blistering fast .416 Barrett ammunition, the REC-7 combat rifle, and the 98 Bravo bolt action rifle. The 98 Bravo has changed how tactical precision rifles are design and built. So much so, the 98-Bravo was named Rifle of the Year in 2010 by the NRA American Rifleman Magazine.

Chris took the 98 Bravo platform and further developed the rifle’s potential by using it as the basis for the Barrett MRAD, which is now being considered for adoption by the United States military. The MRAD has also received the prestigious Rifle of the Year award from the NRA for 2012.

The Barrett’s decided to enter the retail firearms arena in 2009. As co-owner, Chris took previously acquired property and opened The Outpost Armory. The business was an instant success. With impressive growth the Outpost has grown into the largest firearms store in the Middle Tennessee area. The Barrett family along with The Outpost Armory was spotlighted in a primetime, one-hour documentary on National Geographic Television.

After serving as lead designer for 14 years and co-founding The Outpost Armory, Chris took on the position as President of Barrett in 2015. Chris’ achievements since entering this leadership position have included leaner manufacturing, ISO certification, and an overall product offering expansion to broaden the Barrett market.

Justin J. McShane, ESQ.

Marc J. Victor

Marc J. Victor is an Arizona State bar certified specialist in criminal law Bar License 016064 who has been zealously representing clients in serious state and federal criminal law matters for well over twenty years. As a long time freedom activist, Mr. Victor is regularly invited to speak to audiences across Arizona on a variety of issues including ending the drug war, the rights of gun owners, the free market, criminal justice issues as well as a variety of other criminal law related issues. He has twice debated Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery on the drug war.

Mr. Victor has represented clients in more than a thousand major felony cases including first and second-degree murder, sex cases, gun cases, major drug cases, complex white collar cases, federal appeals, and other complex state and federal matters. His jury trial experience includes several murder trials including death eligible matters as well as complex sex and drug cases including both state and federal courts. He has also successfully argued before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Mr. Victor has successfully represented clients in many high-profile and media attention cases; including representing Elizabeth Johnson in the nationally televised “Baby Gabriel” case. To watch his winning closing argument in that case, click here. He also represents clients in high-profile civil rights and personal injury matters.

Mr. Victor has been quoted locally, nationally and internationally on radio, television, in print and in person as a legal commentator and expert on many local and national cases. He was an expert legal commentator for local NBC 12 News for the Jodi Arias case.


Ray Vaughn

Ray Vaughn, a full-time professional gunsmith, is no newcomer to the firearms industry. With 20 years’ worth of gunsmithing in the Atlanta area. Ray has also spent time working for the Ginn group as a contractor and as a depot level armorer at Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem. He holds multiple certificates of training from Colt, Glock, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson and more.

Jessie Harrison

Jessie Harrison

Jessie Harrison from McDonough, Georgia is recognized as one of the most accomplished sports shooters in the world. She took silver in the Lady Open division at the 2017 IPSC Handgun World Shoot, and is known to be the first female shooter to achieve the rank of Grand Master (GM) in the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA).[1] She achieved the rank of GM in USPSA’s Open division. In earning this prestigious classification, she must achieve an average of 95% or higher in the classification courses. Harrison competes in multiple shooting disciplines which include USPSA, IPSC, Steel Challenge and NRA Action Pistol. She began shooting in Cowboy Action Shooting and transitioned to more modern disciplines, to begin her career, through 3-Gun and Steel Challenge. With this, in 2001, She has won more championship titles in the state, regional, national, and world competitions than any other female shooter.

Chris Barrett

Rob Pincus


Rob Pincus is a professional trainer, author and consultant. He and his staff at I.C.E. Training Company provide services to military, law enforcement, private security and students interested in self-defense. Rob is the Developer of the Combat Focus® Shooting program, the most efficient defensive firearms training methodology available today.

Rob provides efficient training methodologies to those interested in developing firearms, tactical operations and defensive skills. These methods stress gaining maximum value from limited training resources and working well with what the body does naturally under real-world conditions.

Rob has experience as a law enforcement officer and executive protection agent and was also commissioned as an officer in the United States Army Reserve after graduating from the Military College of Vermont with a degree in Political Science. Rob serves the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office as a Training Officer and has been a staff writer with S.W.A.T. Magazine since 2001.

From 2003 through 2007, Rob was the Director of The Valhalla Training Center in Montrose, Colorado. Rob developed the training doctrines and programs that brought Valhalla to the attention of the entire shooting industry as a leading source of reality based firearms training. During this time, Valhalla was identified by the Rand Corporation as a leader in private sector reality based training and as a sole source provider to 10th Group Army Special Forces for Extreme Close Quarters Counter Ambush training. Rob was awarded the Range of the Year award by the National Association of Shooting Ranges for 2007.

In Late 2007, Rob launched I.C.E. Training Company and began traveling and teaching around the country and the world. Rob is one of the busiest instructors in the industry, conducting well over 50 courses a year in over 40 locations. He travels over 300 days a year, bringing cutting edge personal defense information to students ranging from military and law enforcement special operations personnel to those who are just considering their first defensive firearm. In 2005, Rob began production of the Personal Defense Firearms DVD Series which evolved to include the Personal Defense Network online resource for training information. To date, the DVD series has shipped over 4 Million copies and consists of over 75 titles. There is no other series of defensive training video series that even comes close to this level of distribution. In addition to his print, video and in-person teaching, Rob has been involved in the production of several TV shows including Personal Defense TV, Best Defense, Stop The Threat, World News Tonight, The Daily Show, Best Defense: Survival, Weaponology, Trigger Time and dozens of local and regional news pieces covering training and firearms rights & responsibilities topics.”

Rob and his I.C.E. team are also regularly sought out as a Team Building and Leadership Development consultants by business leaders and multi-national corporations and conduct programs involving firearm familiarization and other unique experiences.

Recently, Rob has focused on program and instructor development. Instructors groups that have sought out Rob’s expertise and integrated components of his programs include the Chicago Police Department FTU, South Wales Police Department Training Unit (UK), NSW SEAL Qualification Training, Bavarian Polizie (DE), Orange County (FL) Sheriff’s Office and 19th Group Army Special Forces. Rob also conducts an annual conference for certified Combat Focus Shooting Instructors and is one of the founders of the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors.

Jessie Harrison

KC Eusebio

KC Eusebio is 28 years old, and has been shooting competitively for over 20 years. Shooting has always been in his blood. His father was a disciplined man, and he picked up the sport quickly. His first match was at the age of 8. In just two years, he became the youngest USPSA Master at the age of 10, and soon after the youngest USPSA Grandmaster at the age of 12. By the age of 15, he became the youngest to ever win a world speed shooting title. When he turned 18, he enlisted in the US army and joined the Army Marksmanship Unit. He honed his skills, and taught hundreds of soldiers advanced marksmanship skills to help them complete their missions. Soon after, he spent 3 years with TEAM Glock, and became the first person to win a World Speed Shooting Championship with a polymer framed pistol.

Additional Faculty and Staff


Mike Petronella

23 years retired Law Enforcement
15 years SWAT
Factory certified Armorer Colt, Beretta, Glock, Heckler & Koch, Sig-Sauer and Smith & Wesson
BA California State University Fullerton-Criminal Justice


Mark Lynn

With 10+ years of professional machining experience and current leadership of machining operations for M&M Services, Mark has a background as an expert and is a tireless advocate for firearms. His credentials include NRA membership and certification as an NRA Instructor for Basic Pistol, PPITH, and PPOTH. He has 6 years of combined experience instructing students in both firearms operation/safety and machining operations and is a Chief Range Safety Officer. Mark has strong technical skill operating and maintaining welders, cutters, presses, punches, benders, formers, mills, and lathes. Mark is also a Kitplanes Magazine Author who studied Aviation Management and has received FAA Certifications of SEL and MEL (Single Engine Land) (Multi-Engine Land), is an EAA Air venture Metal Shaping/Gas Welding Instructor, and is affiliated with Artist Blacksmiths Association of North America ABANA.


Kip Carpenter

AS Degree High Tech Institute, Orlando FL
Graduate of two Gunsmithing schools

High risk security, Dignitary protection agent
Gunsmith since the age of 14 and owned and operated his own gunsmithing and firearms shop.

Certified professional gunsmith. Pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns
Practical gunsmithing
Pistol smith
Rifle smith
Rimfire rifle smith
Certified Barrett armorer all rifles
Glock armorer
Glock advanced armorer
NRA pistol instructor
NRA protection in the home Instructor
NRA metallic cartridge reloading instructor
NRA shotgun shell reloading instructor
Tennessee hand gun instructor
Several law enforcement and security certifications

Asma Wasim

Asma Wasim


Master’s of Science Degree in Environmental Science, California State University Fullerton

Master’s Degree in Public & Environmental Health, Loma Linda University


Assistant Professor: 7 years

Curriculum Developer: Present

Instructional Designer: 4 years

Online Instructor: 8 years


Robert (Bob) Lee

BA – Regis University, Denver, CO
MBA – Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA
Infantry Officer – United States Marine Corps, Republic of Viet Nam
30+ years’ experience as Executive Director and Corporate Officer for two highly rated proprietary educational institutions.

James Ryan

Scott Griffin


B.S. in Criminal Justice, University of Tennessee at Martin


Combined military of over 16 years as an Infantry Mortarman with the 82nd Airborne Division and Engineer Officer with the Tennessee Army National Guard.

Private Security Contractor in Iraq for 2.5 years.


Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate, Sonoran Desert Institute

Glock Armorer

Smith & Wesson M&P Armorer


Kristine Benard


Master of Arts in English Literature- University of Toledo

Bachelor of Arts in English- University of Toledo


Instruction- 18 years, presently

Dean/Academic Administration- 8 years, presently

Program Director- 3 years

Tutor- 18 years, presently

Public Information Officer- 2 years


Derek Duncan


BA in Public Administration of Criminal Justice, National University


Firearms Instructor DEA/Office of Training

US Marine Course, Foreign Weapons Instructor Course

DEA Instructor Development Course


Retired Special Agent/Drug Enforcement Administration

Master Instructor/Course Developer Drug Enforcement Administration

Possible Club Member (Marksmanship Award)

DEA FAST Team member/team leader (Foreign Deployed Advisory Team/Afghanistan)

DEA Snowcap (Special Enforcement South America)

USAF Security Police K-9 Handler

Jason Celmer

Jason Celmer

Union Institute & University
Bachelor of Science, Criminal Justice—Management

Over 30 years of experience in the safe handling, maintenance, and firing of small arms.
Over 20 years of experience in small arms marksmanship and tactics instruction.
Law Enforcement Professional with over 20 years’ experience and education in criminal justice.

Instructor Certifications:
Firearm Instructor/Rangemaster
Select Fire Instructor
Simunition Instructor
Less Lethal Devices (40mm/37mm, 12Ga, OC, CN)
Distraction Device Instructor (Flashbang)
Laser Sight Instructor
Patrol Rifle Instructor
Law Enforcement Response to CBRNE Incidents
Law Enforcement Protective Measures for CBRNE Incidents
Incident Response to Terrorist Bombings
First Responder to Active Shooter

Armorer Certifications:
Sig Sauer (220, 226, 228, 229, 230/232,239)
Colt (AR, M16/M4)
HK (USP, G36, 416)
Ruger (556, Mini-14, LCP)
Remington (870,700)

Extensive experience trouble shooting, diagnosing, and repairing small arms of all types from around the world, 1860’s to Present Day.

Justin Russell

Justin Russell

My name is Justin Russell, an instructor here for SDI. I grew up hunting and target shooting from a very young age and even traversed into Pre and Civil War reenactments. This particularly sparked my interest with the history of firearms, their use in war, and the changing of human civilization and societies through their association with firearms. I am an Eagle Scout that absolutely loves outdoor activities such as: hunting, camping, fishing, wilderness survival training, and most of all scuba diving. I am humbled and honored to have this wonderful experience work and teach for SDI. Through interacting with students and other instructors alike, we continue to not only spread the knowledge that we have, but to also learn from one another helping to disseminate knowledge and experiences to individuals not only throughout this country but also internationally.

  • Dual Bachelors Degrees from The University of Tennessee
  • History
  • Political Science
  • SDI Instructor since 2016

Chester McCoy

Mary Leoson


Master’s Degree in Psychology

Master’s Degree in English and Writing

Post-Master’s Certificate in Adult Education

Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology


Published Author and Life Coach


Has been teaching at the college level for almost ten years