Survivor: Lufkin veteran teaches firearm safety classes post military career

Survivor: Lufkin veteran teaches firearm safety classes post military career
(Source: KTRE Staff)
(Source: KTRE Staff)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - After an honorable discharge from the military for serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, a Lufkin veteran struggled to piece his life together.

After moving to Angelina County several years ago, Luke Tarbutton saw a need to teach firearm safety classes when he found there weren't enough instructors in the area.

"In one week, my audience could be a group of retired personnel, they all want to get their license to carry, to the extreme opposite of 12-year-old boys in the Trail Life organization who want to have basic understanding," Tarbutton said.

Tarbutton emphasizes the need know the safety and appropriate uses of a firearm.

"If they come with the improper knowledge of how to use that tool, then it's not a safe tool. No matter what tool it is. It could be a saw, a hammer, or a gun. One of many reasons why I teach," Tarbutton said.

But his journey wasn't without struggle. In late 2008, the veteran returned home from serving in Iraq and found himself in a dark place.

"For a long time it was no guns around me, no one around me. Leave me alone," Tarbutton said.   

Struggling to find purpose, he began choosing isolation as a means of coping with his past. At first, he shunned the idea of being around guns.

"At the time, it wasn't nearly as many as it is now, but it was one of those things that this made it the wisest decisions for everybody," Tarbutton said.

Over time, he learned that coming face-to-face with overcoming PTSD is different for everyone, and his coping mechanism of shunning guns became irrelevant.

"In reality, the firearms have been one of the greatest pieces of therapy for me than other things," Tarbutton said.

Now, he connects his time shooting a firearm with memories from his childhood: hunting with his father. This has helped him gain focus and energy and find what he calls feels like home.

"To have that piece of my heritage back and my history back, it brought something back to me that I had lost," Tarbutton said.

As he found what he lost, he took that information and started his business.

"I started shooting perfect almost three years ago," Tarbutton said.

The business marked the beginning of a new chapter for Tarbutton as he navigates now on how to grow Shoot Perfect. Additionally, he continues to lean on his family, community and faith for support

"I've been lucky enough in my life to have some very good people and some good friends that have helped me immensely," Tarbutton said.

The veteran said his biggest advice is to take one step at a time  and surround yourself with a solid support system.

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