Meet the Crew
Our instructors have extensive and diverse backgrounds in teaching people how to protect and defend themselves. Drawing from years of training experience in civilian personal defense, law enforcement, military, competition shooting, and the private security industry, our instructors’ qualifications far exceed state requirements. We offer practical, accessible instruction based on proven techniques, tactics, and procedures. We are all passionate about helping students become more competent and confident with the defensive skills necessary to remain safe in today’s society.
Aqil is the founder and lead instructor of CSA. His background as a firearms instructor started at age 12, teaching urban youth in his father’s gun club. He followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming an NRA Certified Instructor at the age of 22. He has been training civilians for over 30 years and training law enforcement for over 25. His passion is teaching regular people how to keep themselves and their families safe.
- Rangemaster Pistol and Shotgun Instructor Certification (Master Instructor rating)
- Yavapai Firearms Academy Instructor Certification
- Defense Training International Pistol Instructor Certification
- NRA Training Counselor and Certified Instructor in the several disciplines
- NRA Law Enforcement Pistol/Shotgun/Patrol Rifle Instructor
- NRA Chief Range Safety Officer
- NRA Refuse to Be a Victim Instructor and Regional Counselor
- USCCA certified instructor
- Federal Protective Service/DHS Approved Instructor
- New York State Police/Armed Guard Instructor
- Tennessee State Handgun/Armed Guard Instructor
- IALEFI Master Instructor
- Sabre Red Civilian and LE instructor
- And many others
Tiffany is a “late bloomer” who underwent a 180-degree-conversion in the world of firearms. She grew up subscribing to common fears and misconceptions about guns and gun owners. After college, she reluctantly enrolled in a Rangemaster handgun safety course, and she was hooked. Her interests and training have expanded from handguns to shotguns and carbines. In addition to being mentored by Tom and Lynn Givens and other Rangemaster instructors, Tiffany has also trained under Jim Higginbotham, John Farnam, Craig Douglas, Massad Ayoob, and many other respected veterans of the self-defense community. She is member of the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation, and she has earned instructor credentials from the State of Tennessee, the State of Mississippi, the National Rifle Association, the United States Concealed Carry Association, Massad Ayoob Group, and Rangemaster (Master Instructor Certification).
- Rangemaster Firearms Training (Tom Givens)
- Instructor Certification
- Advanced Instructor Certification
- Master Instructor Certification
- Defensive Shotgun Instructor Certification
- NRA Training Counselor and Certified Instructor in the following disciplines:
- NRA Basic Pistol (including Women on Target)
- NRA Personal Protection Inside the Home
- NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home (including Defensive Pistol)
- NRA CCW (Carrying a Concealed Weapon)
- NRA Basic Shotgun
- NRA Basic Rifle
- NRA Refuse to Be a Victim Instructor and Regional Counselor
- NRA Chief Range Safety Officer
- USCCA-certified Training Counselor
- USCCA-certified instructor (Concealed Carry & Home Defense Fundamentals; Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals)
- USCCA-certified Range Safety Officer
- Tennessee Certified Handgun Instructor
- Mississippi Certified Handgun Instructor
- Massad Ayoob Group Certified Deadly Force Instructor
- Practicing attorney (licensed in TN, MS, and AR)
Ryan first started shooting at eleven years old for his Hunter Safety certification. As best he can recall, this was the first activity for which any adult told him he had a natural talent. He’s been chasing that feeling and honing that talent ever since. Ryan has extensive experience in combat sports that involve rolling around with other sweaty dudes on the ground and punching and kicking things until his whole body hurts. He was an armed courier in the Middle Tennessee area for most of his twenties until he got tired of people telling him he couldn’t grow his hair out or have a beard. He’s a serial trainer, a shooting sports competitor, and a pistol coach who is trying his best to avoid having a regular grown-up job. Most of Ryan’s deepest and most meaningful relationships have come from the combat sports and defense training world, so sharing that world with new students is intensely fulfilling for him. He specializes in using the bumpy things on top of the gun to reliably make holes appear where you want them to on B8 targets. Recently, Ryan designed a custom course called Parking Lot Pistol. Its success and popularity led to the founding of Ryan’s own training company, Parking Lot Performance.
- NRA Certified Pistol, Rifle, and CCW Instructor
- Rangemaster-certified pistol instructor
- Certified Tennessee Carry Permit Instructor
- USCCA-certified instructor (Concealed Carry & Home Defense Fundamentals)
- Incredibly Average Amateur Boxer
- Steel Challenge Competitor
- Tied for first place in the preliminary round of the 2019 Rangemaster Polite Society Pistol Match (one of only four shooters out of 135 to achieve a perfect score)
Chris has always had a passion for shooting, but he realized years ago that there is a huge difference between a gun owner and a trained, proficient shooter. After becoming an instructor during his 24-year career in law enforcement, he realized that many training programs only barely scratch the surface of relevant available information for personal defense. So, he began searching for more training and became a perpetual student. Chris has trained with some of the best instructors in the industry, and he continues striving to be not only a better shooter but also a better instructor. He believes you can never have too much skill or knowledge when it comes to defending yourself or your loved ones.
- Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor – TN P.O.S.T. Commission
- Simunitions Scenario Instructor – Simunitions
- Master Instructor – Rangemaster (Tom Givens)
- Shotgun Instructor – Rangemaster (Tom Givens)
- Tactical Rifle Instructor – TN Law Enforcement Trainers Association
- Firearms Instructor – Defense Training International (John Farnam)
- Tactical Medical Instructor – Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
- Law Enforcement Rangemaster – High Ground Training Group
- Effective Assistant Instructor – Citizens Safety Academy
- Basic Pistol Instructor – NRA
- Range Safety Officer – NRA
- Concealed Carry & Home Defense Instructor – USCCA
- Armed Citizen’s Rules of Engagement – Massad Ayoob
- Force Science Certification – Force Science Institute
- Red Dot Pistol – Modern Samurai Project
- Pistol Shooting Solutions – Gabe White
- Unthinkable – Aprill Risk Consulting
- Handgun Employment – Sentinel Concepts
- Red Dot Defensive Pistol – Sage Dynamics
- Glock Armorer – Glock
- AR Armorer – Windham Weaponry
- 870 Armorer- Remington
- And many more
David was young, broke, and in love when he got married at the age of 21 and determined he should probably be able to protect himself and his wife. He never grew up around guns and had no first hand experience with them. After getting his first gun and permit, he realized he needed more training and walked into Citizens Safety Academy where he received his first proper training experience. He kept hanging around the place and before long we figured it was best to put him to work. Being passionate, not just about shooting but teaching as well, he continues to take classes and pursue training so he can better guide people through that first exciting rush he had when he first shot a firearm. David is also fluent in Spanish and plans to teach classes to reach the Spanish-speaking community as well.
- Basic Pistol Instructor – NRA
- TN Handgun Safety Instructor
- NRA Certified Range Safety Officer
- USCCA Certified Range Safety Officer
- CSA Gun Handling & Marksmanship
- CSA How to Draw a Handgun
- Stop The Bleed Hemorrhage Control
Big, sexy, and fast with the steel!
Carson is a six-year Marine Corps combat veteran, former EMT, and currently-serving police officer. During his time in the military, he trained extensively with outside instructors to expand his ability to manage violent encounters, and along the way, found a passion for sharing his knowledge with others. When not working, he continues to hone his own craft and learn from a variety of instructors. Carson prides himself on addressing individual student needs and has been teaching personal protection and medical skills for several years.
Jeff is a veteran educator of 22 years, who holds a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership. Jeff’s interest in training started as a boyhood desire to be like his childhood hero’s he saw in the movies, but quickly turned into a dedicated journey towards proficiency with firearms. With encouragement of family and friends, Jeff sought out a path to become an instructor to pass his passion along to his students. Along the journey, Jeff has been blessed to train under some of the best instructors in the country and has obtained the following certifications: Rangemaster “Master” Certified Instructor, NRA Basic Pistol & CCW Certified Instructor, USCCA Certified Instructor & Training Counselor, as well as extensive training in the Armed Response to Active Shooter Events.
The CSA family would not be complete — and our classes would not be as effective — without the help of a wonderful team of assistant instructors (“AIs”). All our AIs are vetted and trained by CSA’s founder, Aqil Qadir. They contribute their valuable time and expertise to help us maintain high safety standards, keep student-instructor ratios low, and give students the individualized attention they need.
When CSA first started several years ago, the only two instructors were CSA’s founder (Aqil Qadir) and his son, Rafiq. Following in the footsteps of Aqil’s father, Rafiq Qadir is a third-generation firearms instructor. He has earned instructor certifications from the State of Tennessee, the National Rifle Association, and Rangemaster. Rafiq also serves his community as an officer of the Murfreesboro Police Department.
Samara is a mother who started firearms training in 2018 with a simple goal: to be able to protect herself and her children. As she went along in her journey she quickly realized that she wasn’t alone, and that there are a lot of women like her. Women who don’t love guns, but feel like they may need them as a tool for survival. In a short amount of time she’s worked hard to become an instructor in several disciplines. She continues to take classes and seek training so that she can become more proficient with her firearm and a better instructor, to help women like herself do the same.
Tahirah is a mother of 6 and grandmother of 4. She started serious firearms training a few years ago. In that short amount of time she’s worked hard to become an instructor in several disciplines. She continues to take classes and seek training so that she can become more proficient with her firearm and a better instructor, to help women like herself do the same.
Marvin Smartt is a combat Iraq War veteran who served in Airborne Special Operations and was awarded the Bronze Star. He retired from an extensive career as a corrections officer working with emergency response teams. Marvin has been involved in the self-defense community for over 25 years. He is trained as an armed guard and holds concealed carry permits in several states. A longtime IDPA Pistol and F-Class long range shooting competitor, Marvin founded the Spokane Personal Defense Alliance, an IDPA-affiliated shooting club in Washington State. He holds instructor certifications from the National Rifle Association, the State of Tennessee, and Rangemaster.
Jam Martin is an assistant firearms instructor with Citizens Safety Academy who specializes in pistol marksmanship skills. With over two decades as a government security contractor and a degree in Criminal Justice, Jam brings a plethora of knowledge that not only includes firearms and law but also personal security and situational awareness. He holds instructor certifications from the National Rifle Association, the State of Tennessee, and Rangemaster.
David was raised shooting .22 rifles and shotguns. But when his father, an avid competitive pistol shooter, introduced him to handguns, that became his primary area of firearms interest. Over a wandering career unfocused on any specific objective (but nevertheless entertaining), David has enjoyed training in various martial arts (including kung fu and krav maga) and competing in smallbore and high power rifle, bullseye pistol, metallic silhouette, CAS, IDPA, and other firearms sports. For some reason, none of these disciplines seem eager to claim him. 🙂 As an instructor, David especially enjoys working with new shooters. He is a member of the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, and the Firearms Policy Coalition. He holds instructor certifications from the National Rifle Association, the State of Tennessee, and Rangemaster.