Working for the Secret Service, Daniel Blackford protected former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, two Israeli leaders and kings and queens.

He’s now teaching First-Step Basic Handgun and Concealed Handgun License Classes at College of the Mainland.

“I like it when people come to me and say ‘I don’t know that much about guns,’” said Blackford. “First-Step Basic Handgun is designed for people with little to no experience. It’s about finding the right gun for you. Maybe that gun doesn’t fit in your hands or your lifestyle.”

In First-Step Basic Handgun, students do not need to have a personal firearm and can learn about types of guns and which fits them. The class covers firearm fundamentals and prepares students for the Concealed Handgun License (CHL) class.

The CHL class covers the laws governing concealed carry, where license holders are allowed to carry and when deadly force may be appropriate.

“It’s not just teaching how to shoot. I don’t want to see anyone I’ve taught not know what to do in a situation,” said Blackford. “It’s situation awareness. Being aware gives you a chance to avoid it. You should know what (the gun is) capable of. You should respect it.”

A CHL instructor since 2002, Blackford began teaching classes to Secret Service co-workers.

“I like the Gestalt effect, that moment in students when you see the light bulb come on,” said Blackford.

Blackford, who earned a criminal justice degree from University of Houston, began in law enforcement at Liberty County before joining the Secret Service. He worked in Washington D.C. for six years, where he went to firearms training with U.S. and international militaries and special forces.

“I thought that I was a good shooter until I went there. They showed me how much I didn’t know, which made me a much better shooter,” said Blackford.

After Hurricane Katrina, when he was working for the Houston office, Blackford was part of a five-man tactical unit to recover classified materials from the federal building. Afterward he received commendation from the Secret Service director.

Now in addition to teaching handgun classes, he trains COM Basic Peace Officer Academy cadets in firearms and conducts training for commissioned security officer firearms requalification.

Blackford plans to launch First-Step Basic Handgun and Concealed Handgun License classes for women only in the spring.

“It’s time to take what I’ve learned and pass it on. It’s safety first and foremost. After that it’s confidence. I want people to leave confident in their ability,” said Blackford. “If you don’t leave the class feeling somewhat empowered, I haven’t done my job.”

First-Step Basic Handgun is Sept. 14 and 15 from 6-10 p.m. or Oct. 19-20, from 6-10 p.m.

Concealed Handgun License is Oct. 3, Nov. 7 or Dec. 5 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

COM also offers Commissioned Security Officer, which trains professionals to carry firearms for private security employment. The class contains Texas Commission on Private Security Levels 2 and 3. Three sessions are offered: Sept. 21-25, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 5-16, 6-10 p.m., or Nov. 16-20, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information call 409-933-8485 or visit