John has enjoyed shooting since he got his first rifle at age 12 and shot enough through high school to wear off a firing pin on a Ruger 10/22. If he had only saved all those misspent .22s, he could be driving a customized Raptor pickup truck today.
After college, he found a tiny, local group of gun owners who met monthly in the basement of a restaurant in Urbana. They met as the predecessor organization that later became Guns Save Life, which is now one of the larger gun rights organizations in the USA. Among those people there were some incredibly talented shooters and instructors who learned more about John’s passion for shooting and nurtured him into becoming a personal protection instructor, among them another long-time NRA and IDNR instructor (and local attorney) Paul Vallandigham.
John did so in 1997ish, and began holding NRA Personal Protection classes right away – back when NRA Personal Protection was basically the NRA Basic Pistol class plus self-defense tactics and legal considerations that were John’s passion. Soon, he and similarly interested John Naese settled into Darnall’s Gun Works and Ranges in Bloomington and both continued to learn and grow as instructors, sharing their passion with hundreds of students in those early years.
John was married to guns, not only as a firearms instructor to now thousands of adults and kids over the years, but also as a student. He was also a long-time vice-president of Guns Save Life.
Training began with Massad Ayoob’s Lethal Force Institute, the 40-hour “Holy Grail” of national firearms classes, which teaches not only advance defensive pistolcraft, but legal considerations of using deadly force. Paul Vallandigham, an LFI-grad and adjunct legal instructor, raved over the class and told John to take it. John did and shot a 299/300 on the qualification, meriting only #3 in a class filled with outstanding shooters (including present-day fellow GSL Defense Training instructor Nick Klementzos and Illinois Master Firearms Instructor Jim Hagearty, one of John’s past mentors).
Since then, he’s been to almost two dozen other schools and classes, including:
E.A.G. Tactical / Pat Rogers (Defensive Carbine)
Defense Training International / John Farnam (Defensive Carbine)
Spartan Tactical Training Group / John Krupa (Advanced Tactical Handgun / Individual combined skills top shooter)
Aegis Academy / Steve Tarani (Defensive Knife)
Greg “Sully” Sullivan (Carbine)
Dignitary Protection Group (Knife)
Fortress Defense Consultants / Frank Sharpe (Tactical Treatment of Gunshot Wounds x2)
David Elderton (Speed Skills)
Chief AJ (Moving Target Marksmanship)
Lifesavers, LLC (Range First Aid)
Train Illinois (Tim Giblin)
Black Flag Firearms Training (Force on Force)
a host of NRA coursework.
In 2010, John became president of Guns Save Life and oversaw growth of over 300% in four years and numerous national and even international stories about the group, it’s work educating the public and it’s passion for promoting gun rights. Aside from the NRA, not many American gun rights groups have enjoyed front-page features at the BBC, and its Canadian equivalent, to say nothing of profiles in The Atlantic and other national publications.
He also serves as vice-president of Live Free USA, an emergency preparedness educational association.
Today, not only is John an NRA-certified Personal Protection in the Home instructor, he’s also got certifications in pistol and rifle. He’s an Illinois State Police approved CCW instructor, a Live Free USA survival instructor, a U.S. Rifleman’s Association rifle and pistol instructor and an Appleseed instructor-in-training.
When he’s not teaching with GSL Defense Training, he’s volunteering to train people for the U.S. Rifleman’s Association and Project Appleseed. Also, the entire GSL Defense Training team volunteers to run the pistol line at the nation’s longest-running NRA Youth Shooting Camp at Darnall’s in Bloomington.
He’s also the published author of scores, if not hundreds of articles on self-defense strategies, firearms use, defensive mindset and product reviews. He’s also (legally) carried a gun everyday – as a civilian in Illinois – for going on 17 years now.
John also serves as editor emeritus of GunNews Magazine, Guns Save Life’s monthly journal with a circulation of 20,000+ copies.
A more light-hearted profile of John:
Don’t let him drive your boat. He’s terribly unlucky behind the wheel of watercraft. Read on to see why…
Now serving as the Immediate Past President of Guns Save Life, a regional firearms rights organization whose motto is “We defend your right to defend yourself.” GSL member for nearly 20 years and VP for much of that, and just coming off a very successful two-term stint as el presidente. Chief Operating Officer for GSL Defense Training, LLC with 16+ years experience as a handgun instructor and more recently rifle instructor as well, teaching hundreds of people (kids and adults like) basic firearm safety and handling skills each year. Editor emeritus of GunNews. Grew up in Hillsboro, IL. University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign Alumni. Works as an office manager during the day, publication editor at night and firearms instructor on the weekends.
Firearm training junkie. Graduate of shooting schools taught by nationally-known instructors Massad Ayoob (Lethal Force Institute, 299/300 qualification score), John Farnam (Defense Training International), Pat Rogers (EAG Tactical), “Sully” Sullivan (Defensive Edge), John Krupa (Spartan Tactical Training Group, class top individual combined skills shooter), Frank Sharpe (Fortress Defense), Steve Tarani and classes from numerous other regional and local instructors on firearms and defense topics as diverse as exhibition shooting (shooting trap with a rifle among other fun stuff), defensive knife, speed skills and first aid. United States Rifle Association Certified Instructor, Appleseed Intructor (in training), NRA Certified Rifle, Pistol and Personal Protection in the Home instructor. Teaches primarily with GSL Defense Training, but does 100% volunteer work for USRA, RWVA and the longest-running NRA Youth Shooting Camp in the USA, recently promoted to running the pistol line there.
John’s not just about shooting self-defense rifles and pistols. For those keeping score, he’s also the reigning USA National BB Gun Shooting Champion. (Don’t laugh… The title came with a .300 Weatherby rifle and other goodies!)
Recently married to Wendy (Lund), a delightful woman who could done better and has proven to be a remarkable First Lady for Guns Save Life. Long ago married to guns and firearms training. Enjoys photography, flashlights, and teaching as hobbies. Shares the home with three furry ferrets, Nipsey, Daisy and Annie.
John has tragically lost most of his guns and ammo in a series of boating accidents like this one – and worse!