At the age of 14, I decided I wanted to become a Gunsmith. After moving to Jackson, Wyoming as a young man I learned how to hunt, shoot and reload ammunition. I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1976 and after my four-year active duty enlistment I joined the U.S. Navy Reserve where I served with a Navy Special Warfare unit. After retiring in 1998, I worked in the sporting good retail industry and taught a course on reloading ammunition at Western Wyoming Community College.
What prompted you to return to school?
My Desire to return to school was fueled by my life-long dream of becoming a professional Gunsmith. I wanted to go to work every day knowing that I love what I do and eventually be able to work for myself. Gunsmithing/Armorer work is something that I truly enjoy doing everyday and I can do it long into my retirement years.
Why did you choose Colorado School of Trades?
I chose CST’s Gunsmith program for two simple reasons: 1.) It was a program that met the stringent criteria of the VA Voc. Rehab. program. 2.) Over the years of dealing with Gunsmiths I have seen the quality and level of professionalism from graduates and I knew that this was the ideal program for me. In my years of going to gun shows and working in my old shop you can put all the gunsmiths into two categories; those who went to CST and those who did not.
What military education benefits, such as the GI Bill, did you use?
As a disabled veteran I met the criteria to be enrolled into the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program of which the Colorado School of Trades was on a short list of accepted schools for me to attend. Between my Voc. Rehab. counselor and the schools administration, I was able to apply, enroll and attend the CST Gunsmithing program with no issues fulfilling my lifelong dream of becoming a professional Gunsmith.
What has your experience been like as a student?
I have had a great experience as a student at CST. After not attending school since 1976, I felt there was a huge learning curve to overcome. The instructors and staff advised me and a few other veteran students to make a smooth adjustment back into studying and taking notes. The quality of education of CST far exceeded my expectations.
What challenges did you have adjusting to campus culture after military life?
After all my years in the U.S. Navy active or reserve, my challenges adjusting to campus culture were minimal due to my occupation in a high stress environment where I had to react to various threats simultaneously.
Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?
My years in the military instilled in me a ‘do not quit’ attitude. The idea of following through and completing a task to standard has served me well.
What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?
My advice to any veteran wishing to attend or return to school is just simply to commit yourself to achieving your goals. Make a plan to attend the school that best supports your dreams and turn that plan into action. Don’t stop or even hesitate for one second until you’re done. Be a winner and do not wait for 30 plus years to achieve your dream of a trade or degree, simply just do it. It pays to be a winner.
The Colorado School of Trades is the best Gunsmithing school around and they have a high percentage of veterans attending making it feel like “home.” Top-notch education taught by top-notch instructors.