Making Firearms the Best They Can Be

  • Joey Upper

A Driven Man

It’s a treat for staff members at Sonoran Desert Institute to meet with students and graduates face-to-face. One of the great benefits of SDI is its intrinsically remote format, but when you love the students you work with as much as employees at SDI do, a chance to interface is extremely exciting.

That’s one of the many reasons why James LeSaux – he goes by Jim – is always going to remain a special graduate to this writer.

When SDI called Jim and told him that a representative wanted to meet with him and discuss his experience with SDI and what he thought would be valuable insight for students and prospective students, he didn’t hesitate.

Jim’s a driven man. A thing you’ll learn about Jim pretty quickly is how strong his passion for bettering himself really is.

“I spent time studying, I spent time doing the work… but it was all good,” he said, which is something of an understatement. At one point in time, he was taking classes at SDI, working full-time, and taking welding classes at night at the local community college.

“A few years ago, I had been looking for some AR-15 certifications,” LeSaux recalled. “But at the time, I wasn’t really prepared to (make that jump).”

Down the Rabbit Hole

That’s how his journey into formal firearms technology started. That first look into an education in firearms technology ended with an AR-15 certification with a different school. But that wasn’t enough for Jim.

“After that,” Jim noted, “I just decided that I wanted to go further into it.”

How far that rabbit hole would go, he couldn’t yet guess.

“It was intense,” he remembered.

He hasn’t ruled out the process of obtaining his FFL and making his mark within the firearms industry, but his current drive is turning his firearms into the best they can be.

But Jim works with a steady hand. For nearly 17 years, he worked outdoors with AT&T putting up with all forms of weather conditions. He’s not accustomed to backing down.

“I spent time studying, I spent time doing the work… but it was all good,” he said, which is something of an understatement. At one point in time, he was taking classes at SDI, working full-time, and taking welding classes at night at the local community college.

He doesn’t mess around, although even he noted that schedule “got a little tough.”

Standing Out

In the course of study, Jim found a couple of fields within which he could truly excel: ballistics, accurizing, and muzzleloader building.

The fields fall into two principles he loves: LeSaux wants to make unique firearms, and he wants them to be tack drivers.

A quick look at his muzzleloader will tell you how he likes his firearms to stand out.

A close up of Jims muzzleloader

A wide shot of Jims muzzleloader

“SDI was great,” he remembered. “I may not be working in the industry right now,” but the opportunities that presented themselves to him would require him to relocate, and he loves his home. He hasn’t ruled out the process of obtaining his FFL and making his mark within the firearms industry, but his current drive is turning his firearms into the best they can be.

How one can learn about firearms technology online is one of the questions we receive most often. We are proud of the efforts our curriculum developers have undergone to provide a hands-on experience for our students, including labs attached to every four credit-hour course.

Still, it’s great to hear that same sentiment from our own graduates.

“Gunsmithing is still doable like I did,” LeSaux said. If he could go back to SDI for more courses than the full Associate in Firearms Technology already includes, he would. The man also offered to talk to anyone on the fence about enrolling with the school, but for the sake of his inbox, I think I’ll protect his privacy.

If you need to catch Jim, you’ll find him at the range, drilling penny-sized (sometimes literally) holes into targets at a hundred yards from rifles he’s created, theorizing how that grouping can get just a little tighter.

 

Jim LeSeaux is a 2019 SDI graduate.

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