I’ve been doing some thinking about this business that I’ve built. For personal reasons, I’ve not really done as much with ATA this year as I did last year. One of those reasons is that while I know how to teach good people to fight with guns, I don’t really know much about running a business – I’m learning as I go.

Any business or organization is a constant work in progress. ATA is better now than it was a year ago, and I fully believe that it will be better a year from now than it is today. Like any other living being, it grows and goes through changes – some of them painful. Today, I’m going to take the focus off of what ATA does and highlight why ATA exists. It may be a little clumsy, but bear with me; things will firm up over time, and I think you’ll like it.

 

ATA’s Vision of the Future

My vision is of a future where armed and competent Citizen-Warriors live their lives confidently and with peace of mind, doing good and making the world better for themselves and those around them. I see a future where those who do evil cower in fear from the light, and have no freedom to act out their evil desires. I want to do my part to bring about a future full of Americans taking responsibility for the well-being of their lives, families, communities, and nation.

You see, there is no difference in Josh Bales the person and Appalachian Tactical Academy the company. I started this business to help good people learn how to defend themselves, their families, their communities, and their nation against evil. I want you to know that I’m not being dramatic in my use of that word; I choose the word evil intentionally. Evil is real, and it exists in the world. It is not just the responsibility of a select few military or law enforcement trigger pullers to do something about it, though they certainly stand on the cutting edge of the battle.

Notice that in my vision statement above, I didn’t say anything about ATA or tactical training classes. That is my vision statement for the future. I have lived my life up to this point with that vision in my head. That’s why I joined the Marine Corps. That’s why I fought in Afghanistan. That’s why I’m a firefighter. And that’s why I’m currently attempting a transition into Law Enforcement. Evil is real, friends, and I want to fight it. More than that, I want to help you fight it.

 

The Birth of Appalachian Tactical Academy

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

-Matthew 6:3-4

I am a Christian who tries his best to uphold God’s law as laid out in the Bible. I fail at doing so every single day. I’m not better than you or anybody else; I just lean on God’s grace and try my best. The reason that I tell you this and share Jesus’s words above is to highlight a teaching that I have tried my best to uphold: doing my giving in private.

You don’t know a lot of what this business actually does because I haven’t told you. Well today, I’m going to tell you a little bit about those secret things because I hope to inspire you to do better in your own life. I don’t want to boast in anything, so I’m simply going to tell you the short version of how ATA came to exist.

On 16 July 2015, an evil man launched an attack against my brother Marines in Chattanooga, TN. Before this evildoer could be stopped, four Marines lay dead with another Marine, a Sailor, and a Police Officer wounded. The Sailor later died from his wounds.

This infuriated me. I had just a few months before rejoined the Marine Corps Reserve after a three-year hiatus from the Corps. I was a platoon commander at the time – serving about 36 infantry Marines as their leader. I knew that the Marine Corps did a great job at teaching these young warriors to fight with rifles, machineguns, and grenades, but there’s not a lot of need for an infantry Marine to learn anything about concealed carry and pistol gunfighting when it comes to his job.

I decided to correct that… or at least to correct that within my own sphere of influence.

I put out a call to my Marines that in August 2015, I would host a fighting handgun class at my family’s farm. There would be no charge for anything, no certificates issued, nothing official. Just get yourself to London, KY with a handgun, holster, and ammo, and I would teach you what you needed to know.

A small group turned out, and I also invited a few Citizen-Warriors from the area to attend. We trained for a day and a half, and everybody really seemed to enjoy it. A few days later, one of my Citizen-Warrior friends called me wanting to talk. He told me that not only had he learned a ton about fighting with a gun that he hadn’t known before, but that I had actually inspired him. He said that it felt like I had made an investment in his life. Being a businessman himself, he encouraged me to take ATA to the next level and form a business so that I could spread the word outside of my circle of friends.

With his encouragement, and with help from others, I did just that. Later that year, in October 2015, Brooke and I taught the first ATA Pistol I class, and I’ve been doing what I can to train Citizen-Warriors ever since. To this day, I still reserve one weekend every August as an invitation-only, no cost training event for certain Citizen-Warriors and Uniformed Warriors.

 

A Call to Arms

Citizen-Warriors: I’m calling on you right now. Do you believe in my vision of the future? Do you agree that we need competent, armed Citizen-Warriors to stand tall for what’s right and put evil in its place? Do you believe that it is every citizen’s responsibility to defend his life, family, community, and nation?

I think that most of you reading this do.

If you do, then I want to encourage and inspire you to take up your sword and follow the warrior’s path. The warrior’s path doesn’t discriminate against your age, sex, or race. It doesn’t require you to be a beared special-operations gunslinger. The warrior’s path requires only dedication and discipline. I can tell you with conviction that I’d rather train soccer moms and grandmothers who are dedicated to learning how to fight than work with powerlifting 20-somethings who are just there to get their CCDW permit.

So there it is; the offer is on the table. Are you going to be a Citizen-Warrior or just one of the masses? There’s nothing wrong with being one of the masses, but ATA is only for the warriors. I’m talking to them. If what I’ve said here today appeals to you, if it resonates with with something deep inside your heart, then take up your sword and join me on this journey down the warrior’s path. It’s not an easy road, but you won’t regret a second of it.

 

Be a warrior. Protect what’s yours. Do what’s right.
-Josh