I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities I’ve had in this industry. I’ve always placed a higher value on building relationships with people and companies I trust than simply getting paid. If I can’t respect you I’m not going to work with you…regardless of how much cash you’ve got or …the number of followers you have.
This photo was taken at the 2012 SHOT show during media range day. It was the first time I shot a Ashbury Precision Ordnance rifle and I immediately fell in love with their SABER chassis system and custom rifles. I was (and still am) a simple knuckle dragging trigger puller who was trying to figure out how to share my experiences as a Army Sniper, teach new shooters long range and enjoy the occasional competition. Without going bankrupt preferably.
Morris and the APO team took a chance on me and offered to rebuild my M40 rifle with a APO chassis and provide gear for use in future classes. I immediately jumped on the offer and shortly afterwards I had a tuned up .308, a mil spec laser range finder and support gear that changed how I taught LR classes. If you’ve ever attended a 1MOA Solutions precision rifle course you’ve seen the APO rifles they supplied me with and may have borrowed one of your rifle went down. I’ve lost track of the number of students I’ve loaned my rifles to when theirs failed. Ashbury’s support ensured those students continued to train and didn’t have to sit the class out.
I can always count on a phone call or a email from the APO team when my birthday roles around, a anniversary card for Alex and I or baby shower gifts when Gunnar was born. I’ve also spent hours on the phone with Morris getting advice and mentorship on how to grow 1MOA and stay true to my beliefs. More than once Alex and I have talked about how we feel like we’re part of the APO family, not just a customer or a marketing tool.
When I left active duty I packed everything in storage and lived out of my truck for awhile. I wanted a break from the hustle and to enjoy the simple life. I had my dog, my guns and all the training gear I needed to do what I wanted. I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up and I was cool with that. After awhile I settled down and Alexandra I Wilson and I got a place in Central Texas. I’ve had 4 jobs and moved 3 times since 2013. I’ve sold guns, eaten ramen and slept in my truck during road trips to and from classes more times than I’ll ever admit because teaching and shooting is something I love. Not something that makes me a million bucks. There’s been times when the only thing that’s kept me afloat is the VA disability check and GI Bill education benefits. I’m not the guy who’s going to post photos of Rolex’s and new cars to my IG or talk about how hard I ball. That’s not me. I am the guy who will give you my personal rifle or let you shoot my ammo when your rifle goes down in a class. I’ll help you build a rifle and toss in spare parts that I have if you need a hand and I’m not using them. I’ll spend as much time as you want on the range shooting and talking guns if it helps you learn. Teaching isn’t making me rich, but it makes me happy and it lets me give back. And that’s worth more than a paycheck in some ways.
Moral of the story is this… surround yourself with people who encourage you to be better. Their support will allow you to succeed. Four years later and I’m still planning bigger and better things with Ashbury. This year they’ve announced their RifleSports training program and you can find class dates for Oct, Nov December on their website. I’m blessed to be able to work with companies who build great products but also see the value of long term investments in people.