Apprenticeships?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by japple, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. japple

    japple Well-Known Member

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    Question of the day here folks.

    How does one go about finding a gunsmith that is willling to take on an apprentice? I have heard and read that it is much better to find a smith who is willing to take on an apprentice than to go to a school. There are virtually no people in the area in which I live that are qualified smiths for this and I really have no idea how to pursue it. Many things I see come into play as far as good gunsmiths being too busy to teach and fix mistakes made by someone who is learning. Not getting paid as an apprentice until you can do the work. Basically I have no idea where to start with this so any and all opinions are welcome.

    Lets hear some suggestions and some of you smiths point me in the right direction of how you got your starts.

    Thanks
    John
     
  2. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    I think you're about 150 years too late. Today, most 'smiths, that are successful, specialize or have a speciality in the trade. Most, that are 'worth their salt', are way busy and haven't the time to teach a novice, they're just trying to make a living. If you were to apprentice with a well known specialist (a rifle builder, stockmaker, re-finisher, 1911 builder, ect., ect.) you would learn his speciality. On the other hand, if you attended one of the 2 year programs, and applied yourself, you would graduate with a well rounded knowledge of the trade and could specialize later. After you have that 'general' knowledge' you could hire into a speciality shop, if that's what you would want to do. The only place I can think of where you could start at the top would be to get elected Senator, for 1 or 2 terms, and then President.
     

  3. Hairtrigger

    Hairtrigger Well-Known Member

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    Start by making friends and asking. An extra set of hands comes in handy at times and you can go from there, perhaps get instructions working on your own projects first

    In the NMLRA magazine there are both metal and wood workshops that would be an excellent start as well
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
  4. Chas1

    Chas1 Well-Known Member

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    There are a number of very good smiths here as LRH members who post regularly. I would contact several and inquire how they got into it etc etc. and give you some advice on how maybe you should pursue given your situation. Keep in mind if you go to school then I think you'll come out more rounded as opposed to learning how 1 individual smith does it.
     
  5. winmag

    winmag Well-Known Member

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    I dont know where in N.E.Oregon you are, but La Grande has Oregon Trail Trader, and the grumpy ol' farts in there are actually realy cool guys once you get to know them. They do more ''tinkering'' than smithing, but they'd probably be able to point you in the right direction for ''local'' apprentice-smithing.
    There was a guy up by Sumpter who was a real smith, but retired in the 90's. He still does an odd job every now and then. Theres also a guy in Halfway. Im sure someone in Pendelton is a reputable smith, but I dont have any hands on with anybody over there.
    If you want something firearms related, but not gunsmithing, theres Lasercast in Baker.
     
  6. japple

    japple Well-Known Member

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    Winmag,

    I know some of the guys that hang out at Oregon trail trader pretty well. I have talked to some of them about this, but most of them even say that there aren't really any smiths around qualified to teach. Most of the smiths around here only do basic repair type stuff. There used to be a few but they are all gone now. I mostly bounce between La Grande and Heppner, but my job has me travelling all over Oregon and Washington. I will just keep looking around and seeing what is out there. I am not in a big hurry for anything.

    Thanks everyone for your input.

    John
     
  7. Chas1

    Chas1 Well-Known Member

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    japple, not trying to be funny but, at least the one good thing is when you do become a qualified gunsmith you'll be the only one in the area...ought to help your start up gunsmith business.
     
  8. trueblue

    trueblue Well-Known Member

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    Not trying to discourage you, but why would a good gunsmith teach you his skills and create more competition for himself.
    I think this is something you will have to learn on your own, or take some classes at a tech school.
     
  9. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    Seems in any industry there's always room for someone who does above average work.
     
  10. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    +1 There is all ways room for a quality gunsmith !!!!!

    If You have access to a gun smith that is close just go and ask him if he needs good cheep help
    on occasion and that you want to learn . There is a lot of grunt work that needs to be learned
    and it is a good way to get in the door.

    Next would be to start a good on line school or go to one if available.

    If none of this is a option then start by reading as much about gunsmithing and purchase some
    good books and start slowly on your own.

    Start with testing, cleaning,and accurizing factory rifles.(Bedding and floating,cleaning,loading
    ammo and things that require no machining) and as you improve then start by buying a good
    Lathe and basic tooling and learning how to use it.

    This all takes time and you will get better as long as you try for perfection each time.(You may
    not get it but you have to try if you intend to improve.

    Everyone had to start somewhere .

    J E CUSTOM
     
  11. japple

    japple Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys! Appreciate the input! After doing alot of research I have been in contact with an instructor at Trinidad CO. This seems like it could be a very good school. The problem I had with school is that I didnt want to move my family for a school that isnt worth it. I think this one may be worth it, so I am exploring and seeing where it goes. Any input you guys have about this school would be appreciated as well.

    John
     
  12. Hairtrigger

    Hairtrigger Well-Known Member

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    As far as apprenticeships again.
    The gunsmiths that I know are secure enough in their abilities that they are flattered when I ask questions or want to observe
     
  13. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    Trinadad State Junior College has one of the 'first class' gunsmithing programs going. Consider the NRA week or two week class/seminars held in the spring and summer at some of the schools where a 2 year program is taught. I do some repairs but not many any more. (I work mainly with quality made side by side shotguns and accurate rifles, now) Used to be I'd see pleanty of guns someone practiced on or tried to learn themselves with. Folks make alot of junk out of some firearms that would be worth fixing or customizing. There's no substitute for having some show you the right way or an easier way to do any job. As for 'being worth it', yes, if knowledge is your goal. If you've kept up with any of Chad Dixons'(long rifles,llc) posts, he's mentioned more than once that it's 'a tough business', and I'll agree with that statement. Takes along time (took me along time anyway) to develop that 'good ' client base that makes it worth while to be in business. Not trying to sound discouraging by any means here. Check out some of the other schools, too. They all have sound programs and teach the basics. Each usually has a'speciality' or two different than the others. (I graduated from Montgomery Community College in '93, went there because of the 'stock making' program) Takes quit a few dollars to start up a shop after going to school. I met up with a young man almost a year ago that had graduated from Murry State at Tishomingo, Oklahoma. He couldn't find a gunsmithing job worth while locally and couldn't afford to just open a shop of his own. He is now in Kiwait working for the govmet there rebuilding weapons for their military so he can finance his own shop later.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  14. japple

    japple Well-Known Member

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    My goals for this is to open up a Archery and Gunsmithing shop for competitive shooters! I allready have the knowledge base for Archery since I have worked in stores and shot sompetitively for 15 years now. But I don't have the knowledge base for the second part of this endeavor. Also with the machining skills I can gain from the gunsmithing education I can improve and make better tools for the archery industry. I have a business plan setup and have half of the knowledge I need. I just need the gunsmithing knowledge now.