[The following review comes from Waylon. He does a pretty good job of introducing himself in his opening paragraphs, but let me add something that he didn’t say: he is an excellent shooter with lots of talent. It has been my privilege to have him in class!]


The only reason this gets five stars is that I can’t find the sixth or seventh ones. My name is Waylon, and I am a 23 year old from southeastern Kentucky who began learning Shaolin-Do martial arts somewhere between the fourth and fifth grades, and I now have achieved the rank of third degree blackbelt in our art.

I was raised around shotguns and a couple .22 rifles, but my favorite thing to do was put a gi on. Shaolin shaped my life in many ways. I was taught to bow to my instructor before I had the privilege of asking a question, which translated into having respect for those who are older or just farther down the path of life than me. I struggled but was taught perseverance, and that was added to my already high level of stubbornness.

As I matured, I began looking at “why” questions, like why was I learning punches and kicks and joint manipulations and sweeps and all that? It taught me to sober myself, humble myself. It taught me that violence is just a tool, and that there are good, just, moral times to use it. I looked at everything from there on with the mentality that I should be always respectful, but always prepared for one end or another of violence.

As a kid I was too scared of the bang to ever even accidentally point a gun at anybody and as I grew older, I think I came to intuitively understand all the universal safety rules. Technical knowledge of weapon manipulations was never in my grasp, outside of YouTube (when I finally got internet as a kid) and for the most part, that’s my reason for taking my first class at ATA (aside from the massive amount of excitement I was filled with after hearing how much content the class had to offer and how many rounds we were expected to be firing.)

I owned a pistol that I got pretty good with, and by that I mean I could carefully aim and hit a one inch target at seven yards – so far away that my front sight post blotted out the target entirely. But I knew I needed more, and I was hungry. Let me just tell you how big a difference there is between intellectual understanding, and the product of training. Wether you’re a new shooter just now figuring out why inserting a magazine and pulling the trigger doesn’t make your semi-automatic weapon go boom, or if you’re holding your gun upside down and pulling the trigger with an ink pen to show off your trigger control and sight alignment, I still believe you have something to learn or benefit from at ATA.

If nothing else, just meeting the instructor was pretty cool. Ben is sufficiently trained to treat a gunshot wound properly and has oodles of medical equipment and set procedures laid out before you even touch a gun, and unlike most YouTube stars, he knows exactly what he’s saying and he doesn’t need to curse to get his points across, AND he’s served our country in uniform. He demonstrates proficiently anything he teaches and I can say that from the point of view of someone who KNOWS, what practiced movement looks like. I took a wealth of knowledge I didn’t even know I didn’t have, from Pistol 1. [Emphasis added by me – JB] I enjoyed it so much I bought myself and my wife a rifle, and went back to Ben for instruction in Rifle 1, and it likely ranks among my top ten favorite things to reminisce about.

Ben went between new shooters, pros and amateurs with efficiency and clear instruction, keeping everyone focused and in the process of learning his training. My wife was having a hard time zeroing her rifle and instead of getting impatient or saying anything negative, he helped her do the best she could do and only then double checked the rifle setup with her politely obtained permission. He didn’t just see her having a hard time and ask to do it himself. He wanted her to learn! Walking while shooting, rifle zeroing, malfunction drills, rifle to pistol transitions with or without a sling, reloads for empty guns and reloads for guns with not as many bullets as you’d like, proper scanning for the bad guys +1, three different shooting positions, making good use of cover, correction for the elevation differential caused by shooting at nearer or farther ranges compared to your zero, guys!

I could go on but this review is getting too long. Go take a class at Appalachian Tactical Academy and you will be glad you did. I’ll see you there. Oh, and before I forget, how awesome is it that his Pistol 1 course DOUBLES AS A CONCEALED CARRY COURSE?

“Know what’s behind your target before you shoot, because how else do you know you’re not going to miss and hit a school bus full of pregnant nuns soaked in gasoline!?”*

*Paraphrasing something out of context Ben said to wake us all up the morning we took pistol one.