Kenneth Joe Daniel
Kenneth Joe Daniel graduated from the Colorado School of Trades in 1971. His first job after graduation was a staff gunsmith at Ray Judge’s Gun Shop in (of all places) Winchester, TN, which happens to be Joe’s hometown. In 1973, after two years, he moved to Nashville where he went to work for Gun City USA, one of the top gun stores in the area and a service center for most brands of firearms. Joe served as head gunsmith for 20 years and was fortunate enough to attend multiple training classes from various gun manufacturers. This training provided the opportunity to get an inside look into the assembly and repair of products as well as some industry secrets.
“It never ceases to amaze me of all the different designs of years gone by that still function today.”
After his time at Gun City USA, Joe became the head gunsmith and firearms trainer for the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department. He was responsible not only for the repair and maintenance of all duty weapons but also the custom building of tactical shotguns, sniper rifles, and special weapons for the SWAT team. He will tell you one of his favorite projects was building the presentation-grade Springfield M1As and 1911 sidearms for the police department drill team. Joe officially retired from MNPD in 2014 but is still on staff as a part-time consultant for special events and projects.
“Seems like a cushy job, but when you think about it, the work you do could save or cost someone their life.”
Shortly after his retirement, Joe was instrumental in the development of the gunsmith department at Royal Range USA, a new 5-star firearms range and training facility located in Nashville, TN. Over the years, he has been able to share his expertise with other gunsmiths in the shop, and the staff now feels comfortable handling any project that walks through the door.
In his spare time, Joe enjoys restoring old, worn or damaged firearms to like-new condition; he has an elite clientele he serves, custom building, restoring and revitalizing sporting rifle, shotguns, and handguns. If you spend any time with him these days, you will see his focus is shifting. His passion is now to pass along the knowledge he has acquired over the years to other aspiring gunsmiths.
“I have it all in my head, and it seems like a shame to take it to my grave without sharing it with someone who will carry on the tradition and the love of classic firearms.”
Joe made a career out of gunsmithing and has done quite well for himself. He claims it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to go to gunsmith school, but he was able to make a good living doing something he truly loves. His advice to future gunsmiths? Be diverse and learn to work on everything. He claims specializing on one particular make or model is great, but it will limit you in the trade; Joe says you need to be able to work on anything that comes through the door. Also, he encourages new gunsmiths to study and develop an appreciation for the older style firearms. He is in awe of the various types of actions developed over 100 years ago that are still in use today.
Joe has built and repaired firearms for 48 years, met lots of people and made many, many friends over the years, and they are always thankful to be able to say “I know a guy” like Joe.
Jarred McNeely received a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Troy University in Criminal Justice. Mr. McNeely also served in the U.S. Army as a Calvary Scout and served one tour in Bosnia and two tours in Iraq. He was Honorably Discharged in 2006 with the rank of Sergeant. That is when Jarred decided to pursue a career in Gunsmithing and became a student at Colorado School of Trades, graduating in 2011. CST felt like family and is what attracted Mr. McNeely to the school.
“It was the most family-focused way to get an education. And, because of CST’s ‘sense of community,’ they made sure they knew everyone on a first-name basis. It was family, and the school was looking out for everyone’s well-being. That’s just the way they do things at CST: community.”
After graduating in 2011, Jarred assumed the role of Director of Education for Colorado School of Trades in 2013. He loved CST so much, he couldn’t leave! His passion and support for the students truly shines through and for Mr. McNeely it is simple to see that “Students learn better when they feel they’re being supported.”