GRAD SPEAK: Forming a Foundation of Success with Maurice Ligon

  • Drew Poplin

Having grown up in a family of truckers, Maurice Ligon knows a thing or two about journeys. Not only the kind that traverse the various highways and byways that spread across the fabric of our nation, but the kind of long travels most everyone endures throughout their lives. Before each person can arrive safely at their destination, though, there are several proverbial stops and setbacks that they must encounter first.


As mentioned above, Maurice was brought up surrounded by two things. The first being his coming from a line of truck drivers, with both his parents and his uncles being involved in the business. It only seemed fitting, then, that Maurice would follow in their footsteps and drive for 15 years.

But while his family was heavily involved in truck driving, it was another activity that linked the family together: deer hunting. As Maurice explains, “Well, I didn’t so much have an interest in firearms, but I kind of grew up around firearms. My family was hunters, so I knew about different rifles and things of that nature, just because they deer hunted a lot. My grandfather was a hunter. My uncles, they hunted deer. And where we live, we have a lot of acres. So, the deer population was very plentiful. So that’s kind of what I grew up in.”

While the love for firearms hadn’t rubbed off on Maurice at this point, he still became a firearms owner. However, his knowledge of how to operate his firearms was still relatively thin and it wasn’t until a trip to the range that he realized he needed to learn more.

As Maurice describes it, “I remember the first time I went and I purchased an AR-15, I took it to the gun range. When I got to the gun range, I was charging it. But I wasn’t charging it properly. Because that was my first time with an AR-15. I kept sitting there and I was wondering, ‘Why won’t this thing fire?’ Every time I thought I was charging it, I wasn’t charging it. So I’m saying to myself that the gun store has sold me a defective firearm and I need to take it back. Then the guy next to me looked up and he was like, ‘Hey, buddy, you gotta just charge it.’ And I’m like, ‘Wow! Okay, I need to really get more into this.’”

However, it was on the road when Maurice found the school from which he would receive his firearms foundation.

Discovering SDI

As you can imagine, truckers tend to have a limited amount of ways they can spend their breaks while on the road. Some people watch a movie and some people play video games. For Maurice, his go-to was surfing the internet, and according to him, that’s how he first learned about SDI. “Being on the road, I would search the internet a lot. One day I just happened to run across SDI and I started looking at it more and more and it piqued my attention. So the more I looked into it, the more interested I became.”

While Maurice explored similar options at other schools, the relative flexibility and online nature of SDI was what ultimately made his decision easy. As Maurice describes it, “I had started looking at other schools, but they didn’t have the online presence that SDI had. I knew I couldn’t be physically present because of my schedule. And as I said, I was still working at the time. So it was that flexibility that was the big deciding factor. I could work online and I could work at my own pace. That was more beneficial for me because when I first started a lot of the work that I was doing, I was doing it while I was on the road.“

When I asked him how he was able to work on his assignments while on the road, he offered this explanation, “Since I had a box truck, I really didn’t have that backspace. So I kind of [worked] in the front. But when I stopped for breaks, I would either pull out my cell phone and start looking at the curriculums and textbooks, or I would download them to my iPad, so I could do the reading whatever I needed to. Once I got to a truck stop or in a hotel room, I had Wi-Fi access, so I could get on my computer and just type out what I needed to. I would do whatever I needed to do while I was on the road so that once I got home, I could finish up the rest of it.”

Within a short time, Maurice decided to enroll at SDI and start his path to completing the Certificate in Firearms Technology–Gunsmithing program.

The Rubber Meets the Road

However, working full-time and attending school was proving to be an issue. Ultimately, a combination of being occupied with his job and poor planning would lead to Maurice being placed on academic probation. For Maurice, this was devastating. As he recounts, “I was very disappointed because once I start something, I don’t like to (for lack of the proper word) lose. I try to complete everything that I start and for me not being able to complete this program was a disappointment to me, and I felt like I’d wasted so much time coming this far and now I’m on academic probation. That was a big disappointment to me.”

However, rather than giving up, Maurice hunkered down and started making some changes to his schedule. On the changes he made, Maurice explains, “Instead of waiting until the last minute to do any assignment, once the portal opened, I was on it already. I was already a chapter ahead as far as reading and studying the material. So I knew once it opened, I was ready for the discussion. I was ready for the assignment. Instead of waiting until the end of the week to complete the assignments, I started completing the assignments the first of the week, way ahead of time. Get it all out of the way, because I knew once I came off academic probation, I couldn’t go back on. I didn’t have another chance. That was it. So I had to make the best of it. My mind was made up: I was going to graduate SDI and I was going to do it right.”

And that’s exactly what he did. On August 21, 2022, Maurice fulfilled what he set out to do and graduated from the CFT–G program.

So, what was next for Maurice? Luckily, he already had a plan.

Starting Tactical Firearms

While still attending SDI, Maurice went ahead and filed for his FFL and created his own business, Tactical Firearms Repairs & Customization LLC, where he builds customized AR-15s. Shortly after graduating, he would also acquire his SOT (Special Occupational Taxpayer) so that he could start work on manufacturing his own rifle. So far, he has created two prototypes based on the AR-9 and the AR-15 and has fixed his sights (pun intended) on creating his own integrally suppressed barrel made for the AR platform.

But that’s not it in terms of plans for Tactical Firearms. Local business Can Co. Armory recently allowed Maurice to observe their processes, which has led to Maurice pondering the possibility of creating a silencer along with the barrel and his rifle prototypes. Tactical Firearms also hopes to build a public range as they continue finding new ways to grow.

It’s remarkable to see just how well Maurice has grown from when he first enrolled in the CFT–G program to his time on academic probation and now to operating a successful firearms business. However, rather than basking in his accomplishments, Maurice spent a significant portion of my conversation with him expressing his gratitude for all the help he received along the way. From local businesses such as Can Co. and Moss Pawn and Gun Store, who helped educate Maurice from their own experiences in the industry, to guntuber and gym buddy, IV8888, who served as inspiration, they all played a role in where Maurice has ended up today.

Of course, Maurice also spent plenty of time praising the education he received from SDI. In his own words, “I could talk about SDI all day long because if it wasn’t for SDI, I wouldn’t be where I am today in the firearms industry. SDI gave me my foundation and that’s how I found my passion for firearms. I’m a huge advocate of the SDI educational process because, if I wasn’t, then I would have just quit a long time ago, especially when I was on academic probation. But I fought through it and I came back and I graduated.”

He goes further and gives props to the support systems SDI has in place. As he puts it, “And there was a lot of support at SDI, but you have to ask for it. There are instructors there that will help you. There are advisors there who will help you. But you have to want it.”

We at SDI are insanely proud of Maurice for the trials and setbacks he overcame, the support he accepted, and how he has built the lessons learned along the way into becoming a business owner in the firearms industry. We eagerly wait to see what the future holds in store for Maurice and the Tactical Firearms team.

Start Your SDI Journey Today

Build your firearms foundation with SDI! To learn more about the programs we offer at SDI, click here! To read more stories like Maurice’s, follow the link here.

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