A Passion for Firearms, and a School to Match

  • Joey Upper

A Mixture of Experience, Coincidence, and One Man’s Passion

If you were going to ask Jeff Whalen how he ended up at Sonoran Desert Institute, he’d tell you it was the perfect mixture of experience and coincidence.

Whalen’s passion for taking what he loves and honing his abilities made him receptive to the opportunity SDI represents: a formal education in firearms technology, presented without the need to travel to a campus every day or even move from one state to another.

He also cherished the chance to build his own 1911, one of the most storied firearms in both military and civilian history.

Veterans Welcome

A veteran of the armed forces and a man with an extensive background in firearms, Whalen was an excellent match for our school, and our field team figured that one out pretty quick.

“What made me choose to enroll in SDI? I was at one of the offroad expos and they (SDI representatives) were there, and they were talking about their courses, and ever since I’ve been in the military I’ve had a fun experiment with (firearms), I’ve always been an armorer, and I wanted to expand my knowledge!”

Dream Projects

So Whalen grabbed the opportunity and ran with it! Whalen worked through his formal education with a zeal, especially for his hands-on projects.

“I would have to say – I liked all my projects,” he said, “but I loved building my muzzleloader; the muzzleloader was fun to me!”

He also cherished the chance to build his own 1911, one of the most storied firearms in both military and civilian history.

“Once I finished building my 1911, I mean, getting to build my own (firearm), getting all that experience” was extremely valuable, Whalen said.

“With that hands-on experience, you’re getting that learning experience.”

A Practical Education That You Can Put to Work

When we asked Jeff what he was up to right now, we were delighted to learn that not only does he work within the firearms industry, but the knowledge he picked up at SDI is helping his company save money!

“In my job I work at … I actually work at an armory where I work right now, so that actually helps them out, because I know a little bit of stuff so if they need … repairs, I can help them out … instead of sending those weapons out,” Whalen explained.

Hands-on Learning

We certainly hope that his place of work is just as happy that Jeff chose to attend SDI as we are!

Whalen, as is evident, had an extremely positive experience with SDI, and wants to share his love of the school with others. He’s happy to encourage others to attend his alma mater!

“I’d tell (prospective students) that it’s a great school! There is a lot that you can do,” he said.

“With that hands-on experience, you’re getting that learning experience.”

Whalen made a point of saying that while there are other firearms technology schools out there, and there is nothing wrong with those schools, no organization is quite like SDI.

“SDI is a great gunsmithing school. … There’s no other schools that provide what SDI provides.”

Jeff Whalen is a 2017 SDI graduate.

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