Driven By Passion & Excelling With Quality, Tatiana Whitlock Has Carved a Niche in the Firearms Industry
Tatiana Whitlock may describe herself as a mom and a firearms educator, but really she is a force to be reckoned with. Hanging up in her closet is her Shaolin Kempo black belt. Besides being a badass, Whitlock also runs her own personal training business and is involved with a number of other organizations in various capacities, including being the COO at GAT Marketing and the Director of Training at both Howell’s Indoor Range & Gunshop and for the national women’s organization, A Girl & A Gun. As Whitlock so aptly put it, “There’s no dust on these shoes.” So, dust off a chair and grab a seat. You’re about to get up close and personal with one of the hottest commodities in the firearms industry today.
Firepower: When you were growing up, what were your goals?
Tatiana Whitlock: I’m the family slacker. I’ve got 12 or 13 patents right now and everybody else has about 200 a piece. I really thought I would be in the thick of it in the product design plastic world. I never saw this coming. Everyone in my family, all of my elders, are extremely creative and passionate people who just immerse themselves in their area of interest. That was the example that was set for me growing up. They have changed career paths and pursued radically different fields because that’s where their passion led them. That seems to be my story, too.
If you asked me 10 years ago if I would be a professional gunslinger, I would think you’re kidding. I’ve only been doing this for seven years now. My son is 8 years old. Right before his first birthday I took my first gun class. I never picked up a rifle before that day, and now here we are. Now, 100% of my professional efforts are within the firearms community.
Firepower: What sparked your interest in self-defense?
Whitlock: I was 10 years old when my 5-year-old little brother was getting bullied on the playground. He was getting roughed up every day so my grandmother decided to take action. To build his self-confidence, she signed him up for some martial arts lessons.
“I needed to know that my abilities to do that were correct and not just trendy. I needed to know that I could depend on myself to use this tool call the gun.”
During his lessons, I would go and watch him with my mom. As a kid, I was excruciatingly shy, but one day I gathered the guts to whisper in my mom’s ear, “I think I would really like to try this.” My mother just about fell off her chair. She signed me up immediately. At a very young age, I fell in love with the martial arts.
Firepower: What prompted you to start your own business?
Whitlock: I pursued firearms training because I loved it. I loved being a student. I didn’t have a goal of becoming an educator. And that’s what I really identify myself as–an educator. Sharing my knowledge with people who are really interested in firearms themselves is a passion of mine. That’s been the thing that has driven me to learn more and share what I know with those looking to learn.
Firepower: Name a few of the challenges you’ve experienced running your own business.
Whitlock: Learning the entrepreneurial baseline for any new industry is interesting. Offering products that are training packages and courses means selecting curriculums that are going to meet the needs of the surrounding communities. I could write a class that would be so much fun for me, but it could relate to only 2% of the marketplace.
The challenges have been in really identifying what are their needs and what’s missing in other training facilities and then creating a solution to that in the form of a training course.
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Read the entire story in our November/December issue.