While self taught, I have had the beneficial experience of being the son of a machinist/cnc programmer. My interest in CAD first came in the form of video game art. I worked briefly as an artist for Bohemia Interactive Studios, where I was involved in the Arma series games and their VBS simulator projects. I quickly learned though, that game art wasn't what I wanted to do. Since then, under the influence of my father, my brother purchased a Bridgeport Boss 4 CNC. My father and I spent a good amount of time through trial and error retrofitting that machine to full CNC. Now I use Rhino4 and madCAM, along with that Bridgeport, to design, prototype, and manufacture rifle components.
The skills I'm acquiring by this, I think are unique because it gives me the perspective of manufacturing in my designs. I think this really goes a long way in helping me design more practically.
Without a formal education, I know that there is much room for improvement. I also know that I've had pretty unique life experience associated with the course of my projects.