JD Johnson & Charlie Strickland
CEO & Co-owner
Charlie is the CEO and co-owner of Talon Training, Talon Range and Talon Holsters. He has 25 years of law enforcement experience and most recently served as Night Shift Watch Commander at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office before his retirement in September 2015. He served in and supervised a number of units, including the Robbery Task Force, Violent Crimes Unit, Patrol, Field Training and Special Operations and the SWAT team. He also served as the agency armorer. His law enforcement experience gives him a strong foundation for teaching responses to violent encounters.
Charlie currently holds certifications as a law enforcement firearms instructor and a defensive tactics instructor with Florida’s Criminal Justice Standards Training Commission (CJSTC). He was formerly a Florida Firearms “K” Instructor and driving instructor as well as a Motorcycle Instructor from the Institute of Police Technology and Management (IPTM). He has served as a taser instructor for Taser International and is currently certified as an NRA patrol carbine instructor.
During his law enforcement career, Charlie attended schools in the prevention of suicide bombers; improvised explosive devices; tactical entry; and Carlos Hathcock’s White Feather Sniper School, among others. He also coordinated training for the Leon County Sheriff’s SWAT, where he served eight years as a sniper. Charlie currently leads training on responses to active shooter scenarios as well as other classes. He and JD author or approve all of Talon’s training curriculum and most of the material for Talon’s videos. He is also a certified archery and hunter safety instructor.
Charlie holds a B.S. and an MBA from Florida State University. He is a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee, Class 29 and serves on the board for the Capital City Challenge, a non-profit organization he founded nearly a decade ago.
John David (JD) Johnson
JD is the COO and a co-owner of Talon Training, Talon Range and Talon Holsters. He retired from the Leon County Sheriff’s Office after more than 25 years of law enforcement experience. He previously served as a Field Training Officer and an agency armorer.
JD holds instructor certificates from Florida’s Criminal Justice Standards Training Commission (CJSTC) in firearms and defensive tactics, and he is a certified Taser International taser instructor. He attended Miami-Dade’s Officer Survival School and several advanced firearms instructor schools and has instructed Firearms Instructor Train the Trainer Schools at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy.
JD is the lead reactive steel instructor at Talon and is well versed in the Bill Rogers Schools methodology. He co-authored much of Talon’s training material with Charlie Strickland and others. An avid hunter for a wide array of game, JD has many skills related to this sport. He’s a certified archery and hunter safety instructor and is responsible for the range’s sporting clays, skeet, trap and archery. He also has an expansive knowledge of firearms, especially older and military-type firearms.
John is the director of competitive shooting at Talon Training and is a certified firearms instructor with Florida’s Criminal Justice Standards Training Commission (CJSTC). He has more than 13 years of experience in law enforcement and has been an instructor for more than 11 years. John is a helicopter pilot and transferred from SWAT to the Aviation Unit at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, but continues to function as the agency’s lead instructor.
An avid competitive shooter for more than 18 years, John has amassed numerous class and division wins across the country competing in the U.S. Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). He won the Florida State USPSA Championship in 2010 and placed 16th in the nation that same year.
John competes regularly at the national level in both USPSA and 3-Gun using handguns, rifles and shotguns, and he strives to incorporate what he learns from competitive shooting into teaching self defense and tactics at Talon. He teaches Talon’s USPSA introductory classes and many of the advanced classes. He is instrumental in developing curriculum and is a well spoken and patient instructor.
John is a co-owner of Talon Range.
Avery has more than 24 years of combined military and law enforcement experience and is Talon’s Training Coordinator. He began his career in the Army where he served as a physical security specialist, turret gunner, team leader and unit armorer. He was stationed at locations around the world and deployed twice to the Balkans. In 1999, Avery began his career with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission where he served as a member of the Special Operations Group, K-9 handler, Field Training Officer and Training Lieutenant; he currently serves the agency as a Captain. As a certified handgun, shotgun and carbine instructor, Avery has hosted numerous classes focusing on the basic, intermediate or advanced needs of his students. Avery has been a Talon instructor since 2012.
David Pate started his career in law enforcement with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office in 1987. He served in Uniform Patrol, as a School Resource Deputy, Criminal Investigations, and after 09/11, as a Domestic Security Task Force Agent. He is currently a Captain with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) Commission, having served in Internal Affairs, Advanced Training and now as the head of the Office of Professional Standards.
David is a CJSTC and NRA certified firearms instructor and is also a taser, impact weapon and chemical agent instructor. He holds certifications in multiple disciplines as an armorer and has been assigned as the Agency Armorer for both LCSO and FWC. He is an avid waterfowl and upland bird hunter and has been active with the Boy Scouts of America since his youth.
David holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and teaches basic recruit and advanced courses at the Florida Public Safety Institute.
Mitch spent 37 years in law enforcement, beginning as a member of the Army’s military police force and serving as the non-commissioned officer in charge at Ft. Leavenworth. He was decorated for his service in the Army before starting his civilian career as a deputy Sheriff, first in Kansas and then in Florida. Mitch retired in 2014 but not before earning his commercial helicopter license and serving first as his agency’s first full-time observer for the Aviation Unit and then as Captain over the Aviation Bureau.
Mitch has been a firearms instructor for over 29 years. He is a NRA-trained instructor for handguns and patrol rifle and he carries high liability certificates as an instructor in the Florida Criminal Justice Training Commission curriculum. Mitch has been instrumental in leading classes in active shooter response and critical incident training in the region for over a decade.
Dave Farcas served as a homicide detective in the Violent Crimes Section at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. He was a sniper on the SWAT Team and served as an entry team operator as well as the team medic. He is also a CPR/AED instructor and served as an agency armorer and SWAT armorer. He instructs much of the combat casualty care curriculum at Talon.
Dave is certified as a CJSTC firearms, defensive tactics and driving instructor. He is certified on a number of weapon platforms and is the lead tactical scoped rifle instructor at Talon. Dave is also available for individual training.
Tommy is currently a Sergeant with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and has served in local law enforcement for over 25 years. He is an active member of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office training staff and is certified in firearms, defensive tactics and driving. He is also an agency armorer.
Tommy has worked in Patrol, Vice/Narcotics, Robbery, Violent Crimes and Homeland Security. He is currently the LCSO Bomb Squad Commander and Coordinator for the Big Bend Regional Bomb Squad. He also serves as the regional coordinator for the Radiological/Nuclear Detection Program. Tommy currently serves on the Regional Domestic Security Task Force and represents the region on the Domestic Security Coordinating Group, Specialty Teams Focus Group.
Tommy has received training in Suicide Bombing Prevention, Advanced Explosives Demolition, Homemade Explosives, Unexploded Ordnance Technician, Post blast Investigations, Explosive Breaching and HazMat Technician.
Fred Smelt is a Sergeant and the Training Coordinator at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. He serves as the SWAT Team Leader and is the team’s training coordinator. He retired as a Sergeant Major in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and has deployed overseas numerous times.
Fred is a certified CJSTC firearms, defensive tactics and driving instructor. He is a Master Taser Instructor and has helped formulate a wide variety of training curriculum for many law enforcement agencies in the capital city region. He has an extensive background in writing and teaching agency policies. He is also an expert witness in matters pertaining to use of force issues related to law enforcement and policy. He has testified extensively in grand jury proceedings locally. His background and experience in both civilian and military tactics and leadership add outstanding value to the training courses at Talon.
Bruce serves as an instructor at Talon, generally for upper-level classes. He currently works for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office as a Captain. He has served as a correctional officer, a uniformed deputy, a member of the Honor Guard and the SWAT team, a detective, Sergeant and Lt. in the burglary and violent crimes/homicide divisions, a uniform patrol sergeant, Captain of Community Services Bureau, and Captain of Homeland Security/Special Ops. He served as the SWAT Team Commander. He has received numerous awards and commendations during his career at the agency, including recognition for more than 25 years of service.
Prior to joining the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Bruce served in the United States Marine Corps, graduating from his USMC Boot Camp as “Honor Man” of his platoon. In 1990 he was deployed to Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm, where he served as tank gunner on the front line during the liberation of Kuwait City. He received numerous medals for his service and was honorably discharged from the Marine Corp Reserve in 1992 as an E-4.
Frank retired from the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) in 2012 after 31 years in law enforcement. During his time with TPD and the Florida Marine Patrol, Frank trained hundreds of officers from various agencies on how to pass qualification tests with their firearms. He was TPD’s lead firearms instructor, lead driving instructor, lead defensive tactics instructor, field training officer, patrol officer, forgery investigator and investigator for fraud and stolen vehicles.
Frank served on and trained the original TPD field force using the experience he had gained with the Florida Marine Patrol’s early SWAT team during the riots in Miami in the early 1980s. With the Marine Patrol in Miami, Frank intercepted drug runners and firearms smugglers, in addition to responding to boating emergencies and enforcing wildlife regulations
Frank is certified by the National Rifle Association as both a shotgun and handgun instructor and is a certified SCUBA diver. He has a small firearms business with his wife, Kirsten and is a proud father to four sons. Frank is a graduate of Leon High School, Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University.
Patrick has been employed by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office since 1997 and is currently the sergeant overseeing the Crime Scene Unit. He manages all crime scenes for the department and serves as evidence custodian, responsible for approximately 94,000 pieces of evidence.
In addition to the Sheriff’s Office, Patrick is the team leader for the tactical dive team and is in charge of all water-related investigations for 13 surrounding counties. In this capacity he supervises eight full-time divers.
Patrick has also served as a Reserve Deputy, Deputy Sheriff, Field Training Officer, Crime Scene Detective, Property Crimes Detective, Violent Crimes Detective, and Field Training Officer Level II.
Patrick is certified as a CJSTC General Instructor, Firearms Instructor, Driving Instructor and Underwater Police Science Instructor, as well as a CPR/AED Instructor, Spike Strip Instructor and a Dive Master.
Mark comes to Talon with over 40 years of state and local law enforcement; he is currently a part time law enforcement officer and an adjunct instructor at the Florida Public Safety Institute.
He is a CJST certified firearms instructor and has been NRA certified in handgun, shotgun, and rifles for over 30 years. Mark formerly served as a Special Agent, a SWAT sniper, and as an Anti-Terrorist team operator. Any weapon from flintlocks to automatics is Mark’s specialty.
Jim has been in service to his country and community nearly his entire life. Currently employed as a police officer, he has 23 years of total law enforcement experience. He also served in the Army for nine years.
Jim is an expert instructor in three high liability areas at Fire and Police Selection, Inc. (FPSI) including EVOC, DT, and firearms.
Michael is the the Range Manager, providing customer service and handling day to day activities in the Pro Shop and on the range. Michael also works with the Training staff to schedule classes and private instruction.
As a Corpsman for the United States Naval Hospital Corps, Michael spent time in Guam, at the US Naval Hospital Guam. He worked in a variety of fields ranging from Preventive Medicine to Family practice and ultimately became an Emergency Department team leader. While stationed with 2D Marine Division in North Carolina he worked as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman for Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Infantry Regiment. After his return from Afghanistan he moved to Head Quarters Company, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion to finish his time remaining in his beloved Corps.
Mike is the store manager at Talon Tactical Outfitters, Talon’s retail store. He assists customers with trying new firearms, deciding what might work best for them, and answering any and all questions they have in regards to the function of the retail store. Michael can also facilitate special orders or provide the FFL information for any transfers of Firearms.
Mike has been an NRA-Certified Instructor for seven years. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts.
Pro Shop Employee
Ed has been with Talon for over a year as a pro shop employee and range safety officer. He also works with as a Pretrial Officer II with the Leon County court system.
Previously, Ed worked at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for 13 years. He served in the military from 1990-1994 and was a military police officer.
Pro Shop Employee
In the Pro Shop, Clint assists customers with questions, concerns, and any possible issues. He also works at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Clint has a bachelor’s degree in political science and history. He has been working in the firearm industry for over three years.
Matt is an avid hunter and quasi woodsman, currently attending school at Tallahassee Community College. If you have questions about shooting birds (flying type, not the phalanges type) then seek him out. Though young, he is a wealth of knowledge when it come to procuring game. You will mostly find Matt at the Range in the evenings during the week.
James Kirkland is a semi professional gun plumber who has been immersing himself in nearly every aspect of the gun industry his entire life. Before being employed by the company he had taken most the classes that we have to offer. He has also attended courses with most of the quality instructors in the area and abroad.
Mr. Kirkland has dabbled in everything from long range precision shooting, reloading of ammunition, CQB and firearms construction. He can with confidence guide you to what works and what doesn’t from personal experience.
James can normally be found at Talon Tactical Outfitters during the week.
Ms. Walters graduated from the police academy in 2019, the first step in her pursuit of a career in law enforcement with a plan to go into federal law enforcement within the next 10 years.
Her training at the Academy and withe Sheriffs Department provided her wi a pretty solid base of knowledge about firearms use.