For those with a fascination for firearms, becoming a gunsmith is a great way to make money while doing something that remains high in interest over time. Gunsmithing schools are now diversified and offer not only instruction in general education, but also specific training in areas such as custom design. Whether taking an online gunsmithing course, technical school training, seeking degrees in the field, or just looking for certification to become a professional gunsmith, with a little information and research the perfect school can easily be found.
Gunsmithing is an art that has been around since the creation of firearms in the 1300’s. In America, local gunsmiths would take on apprentices at the age of 12 and by the time students were 21 they were able to run their own gun shop successfully. With changes in technology and use, the demand for qualified individuals that can design, make, and repair these weapons has continued to grow.
For those interested in this career field, the proper education can enable an individual to pursue employment with others, such as Colt or Springfield, run their own business, or generate new designs that will be used far into the future. Coursework varies greatly, depending on school selected, but all have some coursework in common.
- Firearms technology, handling, operation, and safety
- Function and design of various weapons
- The use of mechanical and hand tools used in the trade
- Machine tool processes
- Blueprint design and reading
- Proper maintenance and cleaning of various weapons
- Diagnosis and repair of non-functioning weapons
- Decoration and refinishing
- Custom Designs
- Metallurgy, woodworking, and how to efficiently work with other materials used in firearm design
- General coursework including English, math, and history as well as studies specifically related to weaponry
- Many schools require on-the-job training
Types of Gunsmithing Schools And Programs
For those that wish to attend one of the many gunsmithing schools online or otherwise, today there are more opportunities than ever. If seeking a degree, license, or certification in this field, it is important to explore facts such as those contained in a school guide as well as in web links in order to ensure the program fits individual needs. Many accredited online gunsmithing schools are available today as are technical schools online that provide training in this field. These often offer short term programs that can be finished quickly so that individuals can begin work as a professional gunsmith in a short amount of time.
The best skilled trades programs and online gunsmith training result in a degree or diploma and licensure at the conclusion of coursework. Since licenses in this field are required to work with weaponry and explosives, it is important to determine the state and federal requirements that may impact decision-making. Many colleges specialize in degree programs that take two years to complete. Their coursework also includes instruction in general mechanical crafting, which can open up even more opportunities upon completion.
Additional Education Requirements
Often upon completion of any program, an apprenticeship is also required with an experienced firearms manufacturer. This position can last from months to years and provides professional experience to new gunsmiths. Although an extensive apprenticeship program can replace required coursework as well as the skills and knowledge required in this field, few result in a licensure and/or certification. Without meeting this requirement, although knowledge and skills may be sufficient, a job as an independent gunsmith may not be possible.
For those pursuing a license, it is important to know that these are issued by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This is based on mandates found in the Gun Control Act of 1968. An application to the ATF is required along with a passing score on an interview screening. Information required includes:
- Social Security Number
- Criminal Status
- Fingerprint Card
- Two photos that can be used for identification purposes, such as passport photos
- A list of “responsible persons”
One of the most important elements will be the formal interview. This allows the ATF to clarify questions, verify information given on the application, and determine readiness to hold a career in this field. It also allows applicants to ask questions about state and federal regulations that may impact career choices and/or licensure.
Gunsmith Schools Online Potential School Sites
There are many gunsmithing schools that provide programs designed to meet local, state, and federal mandates. Following are a list of a few gunsmithing schools that offer programs that may fulfill individual needs.
- The Pennsylvania Gunsmith School in Pittsburgh has been providing training in this field since 1949. They utilize a lab-like setting based on a hands-on approach. Students begin with general education coursework that becomes more specific to this occupation resulting in a diploma and licensure within 16 months.
- Trinidad State Junior College is in Colorado and has been offering gunsmithing courses since 1947. They offer a two year degree program and begin with basic gunsmithing that concludes with pistol smithing as well as competitive rifles.
- Also in Colorado is the Colorado School of Trades, which began offering programs in this field in 1947. Students learn by actually working on firearms provided by customers in one of the largest gunsmithing shops in the country. The coursework at this institution includes business training and uses a project-oriented approach. Training results in an associate of occupational studies degree and requires 1800 hours of study.
- Based in Susanville, California is Lassen Community College that offers both associate degrees as well as certifications in various gunsmithing programs. Associate of science degrees are available focusing on various aspects of this industry along with certifications. Both types of coursework will prepare an individual for the licensure process and a career as a gunsmith.
- Another popular program is offered at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. At this school a two-year degree or certificate programs are available. Coursework includes small business management, communication, and computer information systems. Core classes in English and Western civilization are also required. Completion of the 64 hours of coursework prepares students for entry-level positions within the industry.
- For those who prefer correspondence courses, a variety of gunsmithing schools online are available that offer both degrees and certificates. These programs tend to be far less comprehensive and students do not receive hands-on training or exposure to the tools of the trade. This field is not only highly technical, but also potentially dangerous. As a result, this option works best when tied into an apprenticeship program.