The Instructors

ACADEMI instructors are chosen for their experience, professional attitude and passion for the industry.

They are carefully chosen professionals who come from a variety of military and law enforcement agencies throughout the country, including:

  • U.S. Navy SEALs 
  • U.S. Army Special Forces
  • U.S. Army Rangers
  • U.S. Marine Corps
  • Canadian Special Forces
  • SWAT Teams

ACADEMI instructors understand the importance of high-quality training and know that training often means the difference between life and death. They are committed, and feel it is their responsibility to bring you the best in tactical and firearms training. They have developed a training methodology that has proven itself in real-world tactical environments.

Frank Welch

Frank Welch is a Firearms and Tactics instructor, specializing in military small unit tactics, close quarters battle, law enforcement SWAT operations and hostage rescue. From 1976 to 2004, Mr. Welch served in the Norfolk Police Department as part of the SWAT, K-9, Narcotics and patrol divisions. He was also a member of the Virginia National Guard from 1979 to 2007, serving with the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne). During this time, Mr. Welch was Special Forces weapons Sergeant and a Team Sergeant – the senior enlisted member of an Operational Detachment Alpha. In this role, he lead over fifty combat missions in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2003.


Jay Dotson

Jay Dotson is a Lead Instructor at ACADEMI, specializing in High Threat and Executive protection as well as Firearms and Tactics training for military, law enforcement and private sector clients.

Mr. Dotson is also the Director of the Department of Criminal Justice Services of Virginia (DCJS). Mr. Dotson has been with the company for over eleven years, joining in January of 2003 as part of a high-threat protection team in Iraq and Afghanistan. He became a full-time Firearms and Tactics instructor in June of 2006.

Prior to working for ACADEMI, Mr. Dotson served in the United States Marine Corps where he was stationed in Norfolk, VA at 1st Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Company (FAST). During his time at FAST Company he was a Close Quarter Battle (CQB) team member, focusing on Embassy recapture and security.


Chris Costanza

Chris Costanza has been the Program Manager of the Firearms and Tactics Section at ACADEMI since March 2012. Prior to becoming Program Manager, Mr. Costanza was a Firearms and Tactics Instructor from June 2006 to March 2012.

Mr. Costanza served for 20 years as a Police Officer with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel District and the Chesapeake Virginia Police Department. Mr. Costanza was assigned to the SWAT team in September 1989 and served until his retirement in 2006. His specialties included Counter Sniper for 7 years and Mechanical, Ballistic and Explosive Breacher 4 years. Throughout his career, Mr. Costanza was also assigned to the Marine Patrol Section, the Underwater Search and Recovery Team, served as an Assistant Open Water Instructor and Training Coordinator, and a vice and narcotics detective.


Troy Cornwell

Troy Cornwell is a Lead Instructor at ACADEMI, specializing in High Threat and Executive protection as well as Firearms and Tactics training for military, law enforcement and private sector clients. His other areas of speciality include motorcade operations, principal recovery and evacuation, responding to attacks on principals and protective security details.

Mr. Cornwell has previously served as an independent contractor with DynCorp and was assigned as lead driver, counter assault team member, counter assault team leader and deputy detail leader for President Karzai’s protection detail in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mr. Cornwell coordinated the entire protective detail mission planning process for all presidential movements, and planned and led security patrols around the palace vicinity. In addition, Mr. Cornwell was the Director of Training for Aguieus-High Threat Security. During his two-year tenure with Aguieus-High Threat Security, he conducted high threat training for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Prior to entering the private sector, Mr. Cornwell served with the U.S. Army, first with the 101st & 82nd Airborne Division and later as a weapons sergeant with the elite U.S. Army Special Forces. He was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group where he conducted training operations for U.S. and foreign militaries on drug interdiction, anti-terrorism, force protection and counter insurgency. He retired from the U.S. Army after twenty-one years of service.


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