If Clark Custom wasn't six hours away I'd be driving there right now. I will have to check them out on a weekend.
An apprenticeship with someone who has in-depth technical knowledge would be ideal. The issue is that all the businesses near me have a "the gunsmith only comes in on Monday" sort of situation. The smithing aspect is generally peripheral to other aspects of firearms business and some of the work I've been handed over as a "finished product" was somewhat embarrassing. So that is what prompted me into taking the idea more seriously. I will dig around more and see what I come up with... there has got to be someone... it's the South.
As of right now I'm looking into machining courses at a college here: lathe, mill, CNC. I figure that with a School of Hard Knocks curriculum might prove most useful for now instead of waiting around for a perfect situation.