Gunsmithing School?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by metau, Apr 1, 2007.

  1. metau

    metau Well-Known Member

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    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.

    Jerry
     
  2. Jimm

    Jimm Writers Guild

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    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 .

    Jim Brown
     

  3. huntinfool18

    huntinfool18 Well-Known Member

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    i went to the colorado scool of trades for gunsmithing. good school but room for improvment as is with everything. huntinfool18
     
  4. Black Diamond 408

    Black Diamond 408 Well-Known Member

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    Jerry,
    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.

    Go for it!

    Dave
     
  5. metau

    metau Well-Known Member

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    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.


    Jerry
     
  6. Coyboy

    Coyboy Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  7. Black Diamond 408

    Black Diamond 408 Well-Known Member

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    Jerry,

    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.

    If you want to chat sometime, send me an email.

    Dave
     
  8. koginam

    koginam Well-Known Member

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    Check this site out for info on gunsmith apprenticeship programs in your state. http://thegunsmiths.com/phpBB2/ Schools are not long enough to get you the bench time and diagnostic experience a smith needs, I have not seen anyone who took mail order training but I do know some of the instructors are very good smiths. But nothing beats having a good smith teach you the basics.
     
  9. metau

    metau Well-Known Member

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    Well, just an update. I have received info from two schools that do internet/corespondance courses. They are Peen Foster carrec school and Modern Gun School/Distance Learning International. The first one is cheaper, by quite a bit, but it reflects in thier course description. The Modern Gun School course description includes almost 150 differant 'lessons'. I am definitley leaning towards that school, but want am waiting to find out if my GI Bill will cover it. Do any of you smith's feel that schooling would be benificial or detrimental if I were to become an apprentice prior to my runnign my own shop? Or should I just try to find a decent smith localy and start there?

    I am just trying to figure out a way to do what I love and hopefully support a family while at it.(Can't fish all day and pay the bills, so this is the next best thing /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif). Thanks again all.

    Jerry
     
  10. longtooth

    longtooth Well-Known Member

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    metau
    I made a very good living as a gunsmith after I worked for many years struggling month to month.
    I will tell you that I have loved everyday of my carrier.

    Decide what you want to do as a gunsmith do you want to be a gun repairman then correspondence school will do what you want.
    But if you want to build guns then you will get little from them. look into a gunsmith school like Colorado, or Trinidad, the best would be learning from a smith you respect as an apprentice. If you are in an apprenticeship program recognized by the state or feds you can use your GI bill to pay for schooling, Tools of the trade including books, and some money. I had an apprentice that was 60 years old who paid me to learn until he could do the work and I started paying him.

    Check with your local community collage and take a course in machine tech. learn to use a lathe and mill as well as a grinder, learn on manual machines, in many cases they will tailor the class to suit your needs, while your their build fixtures and tools you will use in the trade.

    If you want to really struggle try running a business with little or no inventory or with out the proper tools, you will take way to long on a job and not make a dime. Save your money or get a SB loan do it right, you don't need new equipment but you should get tools, machines, inventory, and a good location before you start doing it full time. If you have a local gun shop near you you might be able to rent space from them that would be a win win for both of you.

    Take business classes to run a successful business you will need them as much as any other part of the craft.
    With the business classes you will learn how to get goverment loans and where to apply for community grants, I know a smith that builds flint locks and got some funding from a state folk arts commission. In many places their are incubator programs ran by the city or county to help start new business, they offer shop space and other benefits.

    Get as many books as you can on assembly & disassembly of firearms, gunsmithing, barrel work, chambering, metallurgy, metal coating and stock work. You can find them on eBay and amazon.com at low prices.
    Brownell's has a great selection of new books, their gunsmith kinks is very helpful.

    Specialize in a part of the trade you like shooting, I have met some great smiths that make a good living doing cowboy action only, others who are shotgun smiths etc...

    Their is nothing wrong with general gunsmithing you will work on lots of different guns but it is a little more expensive to get into because of the larger selection of parts and tooling and fixtures you will need.
    I would specialize in one or two disciplines at the most.

    Go to matches, shoots and any other type of gathering that will get your name out their. Get involved in the NRA, and any other shooting org. that is of interest to you.

    Have good ethics in business, don't do work your not qualified to do, and don't take in more work then you can do in a reasonable amount of time, and don't give a time of completion that you can't keep. Never tell a customer his gun isn't worth fixing or that it will not be worth the money it will take to fix it up, Its his gun and it might be a family treasure so give him a price and let him decide if its worth it.
    Set a shop rate and stick to it, Brownell's has a price guide that is fair.

    Theirs a lot more but I'm old and need to take a nap so I'll let someone else give that advise.
    Gunsmithing is a great and honorable trade you will enjoy it. Good luck
     
  11. Dead Beat

    Dead Beat Well-Known Member

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    i think Miday has a list of gunsmithing school's on there website

    DB
     
  12. springer222

    springer222 Member

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    Not sure what area you are in and where you are willing to live, but there is also a small school in southern OK that has a gunsmithing program - Murray State College Tishomingo, OK - http://www.msc.cc.ok.us/departments/cert/gunsmithing.html I have no personal experience with the exception of attending an NRA summer session a few years back.
     
  13. metau

    metau Well-Known Member

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    I currently reside in Gunnison, CO, and do not have the ability or finances to relocate just for schooling at this time. I have neard many good things about murray state, but feel that with two schools here in CO, that either one would be a more stable choice for me at this point in time.

    Jerry