Does anyone know much about the online gunsmithing courses availible? I have a bunch of my GI Bill left to use and just thought of this as a possibility. Or should I go to a real school? Or find a quality smith and become an apprentice? Thanks.
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
Jerry you may want to pick the brains of the smiths that frequent here . Kirby Allen ( fiftydriver ) , Chris Matthews ( chris matthews ) , Nathaniel Dagley ( 308nate ) ( Is that right 308 nate ? ) Dave Viersco ( blackdiamond408 ) about the options available.
Their email addys are probably in their bios .
Glad to hear of a new potential " smith " we need lots of them .
Personally i never attended a school, that being said i was able to grow up around several very good gunsmiths. One was a military armourer and research specialist. The other one worked a while for Winchester in the 40's. They both had small lathes and mills in there homes. It was outstanding to just go and watch and listen, i learned a lot, prolly forgot so much as well. They both made their own reamers, crude looking but worked.
I knew a guy that went to the colorado school, dont think he learned to much, i had to rework some of his projects. He boasted of being the only "Certified Gunsmith" in our area.
That is the only person i have known that attended the school.
I'm sure for somone that has had no exposure to gunsmithing it would be the way to go, it takes a very long time to gain experience doing it the way i did. Like being a doctor, your allways learning.
I know of two schools with physical locations here in colorado. The school of trades, which is in Denver IIRC, and the School of Gunsmitihing in Trinidad at the community college down there. I also noticed that the one in Trinidad is one of the few with a nod from the NRA. Not sure if that means anything. The only problem though is that I really do not want to live in Trinidad, nor will I ever live in Denver. I only know of one gunsmith in my local area and unfortunitly I have heard from most every person that I have talked to that I should have work done somewhere else. Which is another reason why a the guys at the local gun shop are encouraging me to learn the trade. I am jsut trying to figure out a way to learn the trade, where I can still make a living while learning and not have to give up living in the mountains that I love.
Now a question for the gunsmiths on here. Is it truely feasable to make a living and support a family through doing this, or is it more of a 'on the side' sort of deal? I am just curious as to what I might be getting myself into. Feel free to PM me. Thanks again everyone.
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
Jerry, I attended the NRA sponsored gunsmithing classes at Trinidad last year. They have week long classes that cover different areas of smithing. Examples, gun repair, jigs and fixtures, basic machining, adv machining/barrel fitting, blueprinting, match ar15, double shotguns, and more. Each class is a week long 40hours, The cost is 300 a week and 100 to stay in the dorms. Call Anthony Chavez in the gunsmithing dept. he will send out the class schedule, they start in June.
If your going into the metal working side of gunsmithing, lathe/mill work. I would suggest you attend a machine tool class at a local tech. This will pay off more than anything. It will teach you a good understanding of metal working and machineing, tolerences and measuring
equipment, and above all else attention to detail. It will also show if your up to the task skill wise.
I attended a Tech at home for the first year to learn all the manual machines, and skipped the second year which was cnc dosen't mean I can't go back someday.
Some of the students at Trinidad had never run a lathe and after 2 weeks had barrels fitted to actions. Some of which ended up as 20" tubes, and not by choice. So advance skills in machining help significantlly.
As far as starting a buisness, that is something you should decide after some experience. If you KNOW your work is first class, and you have the means(money) to get it started, go for it. Definatly have another income when you start, the first year could be very rockey.
Gunsmithing for a living can be very rewarding, however it will take a while to build up a client base. It depends on the area you live in as to how many back yard gunsmiths there are, the economics of the area. I have been doing this for over 35 years now, full time, part time, it just depends on what the area will give. Usually you would have to start out in conjuntion with a large sporting goods store, to get thier general repairs. Custom gun work is the most fun, but will take the longest to get any sort of reputation. Back in the 80's, when my business was the best there was no internet, it was mostly all local and word of mouth. It was hard to suport a family on that type of income. Now days with internet, message boards and such you can reach a large number of people with a minimal cost. The only advertising i had was newspapers, and then it was mostly seasonal. We took on Remingtons warrenty work for a while, but that was a big pain in the rear!
Start up costs can be spendy, first you need a very good lathe, capable on putting on large dia barrels. A good vertical mill (bridgport style) and numerous other items.
Watch out for used equipment, your buying someone elses worn out machines. There are good used machines available, have it checked out by someone first. The quality of your work will be shown by the quality of the machines you use.
Be prepared to work on mostly junk, also be prepared to find out the general public, (i deal with farmers here) wants it for a cheap cut rate price.
I wish you luck, as i said before it is a very rewarding business, hobby or sideline.