Grad Speak: Conquering Fear and Forging New Passions with Kingston Blevins

  • Drew Poplin


Firearms are less of a weapon and rather more of a tool.


If you’ve been in the world of firearms, you’ve probably heard a similar expression. It is a statement that I believe to be totally accurate. While a gun can be used for purposes of destruction and harm, it can also be used to preserve and protect.

Kingston Jae Blevins is keenly aware of this fact. Growing up in southern Los Angeles (more specifically Compton and Watts), Blevins was accustomed to the power of firearms. In fact, an 18-year-old Blevins would become even more keenly aware of this fact. In 2005, after moving to Humboldt County and becoming a firefighter, he became the victim of a crime in which the perpetrator used a gun against him.

While this traumatic event might have sworn off anyone from firearms, for Kingston, it fueled a curiosity that burned into a passion. As he puts it, “That got me interested in firearms. It was like, ‘If this can be such a powerful thing, I need to know about it.’”


Kingston teaching his firearms knowledge to others


Channeling Fear Into Intrigue

Shortly thereafter, Blevins started his own firearms journey and found himself trying to learn everything he could about different firearms. This would eventually lead him to tinker with firearms himself and expand his knowledge further. Soon, the thing that created fear became his new hobby. Eventually, this hobby became something even more.

After around 15 years of dutiful service as a firefighter, an injury forced Kingston to retire. With one of his deep passions being extinguished, Blevins now found himself in the unenviable position of needing to find a new career. This led him to turn his sights toward his other passion: firearms. Moving to Phoenix, Arizona, in 2018, he wanted to be in an area where “the gun industry was booming”. However, despite learning much in his time as a firearms enthusiast, he knew he could learn more.

After seeing an ad for an online school that taught students about firearms technology, Kingston’s interest was piqued. He explained, “At the time, I was already making Kydex holsters and tinkering with guns. So when I found out that SDI had a Kydex portion to their program, I thought that was pretty cool ‘cause I was like, ‘Man, that’s right up my alley.’ It was nice how everything was convenient in one place.”


Molding Intrigue Into Proficiency

Finding the call to SDI to be too enticing to ignore, he enrolled in the Certificate in Firearms Technology – Gunsmithing program. One of the things that impressed Kingston about the school is how they equip their students with not only firearms knowledge, but with the ability to explore and find solutions themselves.

As Blevins puts it, “The cool thing about being able to go through this program is it teaches you to go get the knowledge, and it [also] teaches you which route to go get the knowledge. You develop a template for getting your information, so now you’re not just willy-nilly researching random things that spark your interest.”


Some of Kingston’s super work


While online-based learning can offer its challenges, Blevins found that he appreciated the various mediums that SDI used to teach. Much in the way that the VARK model is standard practice in many educational institutions today, SDI utilizes these different modalities so that students have the opportunity to learn in multiple ways. Speaking on this, Blevins adds, “It’s cool because a lot of people in the gunsmithing field, you have to [physically] show them. So to be able to have this program where I used the text to read and watched the videos, it enabled me to like score really high in the class.”

He wasn’t wrong about scoring high, either. In 2022, he graduated from the CFT-G program with roughly a 3.7 GPA. Armed with his certificate and a bevy of firearms knowledge, Blevins was now ready to dive head-first into the world of gunsmithing. Having a buddy who owned a shop, Kingston started working there as lead gunsmith almost immediately.


Breaking the Gunsmithing Glass Ceiling

In addition to working at the shop, Blevins also serves as a firearms instructor at two Sportsman’s Warehouses in Prescott and Avondale. Knowing firsthand the fear and intrigue surrounding firearms, he is now able to help beginners channel these feelings into becoming responsible firearms owners.

Reflecting on how the industry has changed over the years, he says, “Look at it from where we are now from where we were at. You had the gunsmith and the apprentice. You have to sweep someone’s floor. You have to do all of this stuff for years on end to learn about one gun that he worked on, that he was known for. I think about a lot of people who don’t have access to gun shops where they can apprentice, nor have the time.”


“I was in firearms for about 17 years prior to me attending the SDI program and through that program, I found a lot of key fundamental things that I didn’t know.” – Kingston Blevins


Because of SDI, getting started in the firearms industry is more accessible than ever. And while graduating from a college program doesn’t make one a master at anything (take it from me, as a former Theatre major, I’m no Daniel Day-Lewis), as Blevins explains, “All this stuff is a fundamental base. It’s not saying you’re the ‘end all, be all’ gunsmith. [But] now, it’s like you can walk into the door and have common knowledge with a gunsmith. Now he can take you under his wing and not have to baby you and tell you how to measure something.”

We are certainly proud to have Kingston Blevins as an SDI graduate. His journey, perseverance, and attitude are inspiring and remind us that hard work and curiosity can help you excel in whatever realm of life you are in.

If you are like Kingston and wish to get started in the firearms industry, consider enrolling at SDI. Click here to find out more about our awesome programs.

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