Take this for what its worth.
I've been in this trade in almost every capacity now for 12+ years. I've built rifles from scratch, done repairs, counter sales, managed, and now own a business.
I was the production manager for Nesika Bay Precision. I had 5 first year graduates from a gunsmith school for employees.
Reasons I'll never hire a gunsmith fresh out of school ever again:
1. The school fills the young mind with illusions of fantasy that manifest into unrealistic pay expectations.
2. They thought they new everything.
3. They resisted learning new ways of doing things.
A trade school is a number game. It's about job placement upon graduation and little else.
I'm guessing you bedded a rifle or two while there. I can promise you the day you walked into my shop I'd fire you on the spot if you even looked at me funny when I told you to forget everything they taught you. Take a look at what mine look like and judge for yourself.
Gunmaking historically has been a cottage industry. A guy in his shop/garage/basement tinkering on the neighbors guns gets a feel for it, gets and FFL and then starts a business. Nothing wrong with that but it also keeps the trade in the dark ages IMO and it will only reduce your income earning potential. Instead of gouging a client for that last nickel, maybe consider revamping how you do things a little.
Think outside the box. Now that you have the basics, learn the more modern methods to manufacture. Learn the software/CNC side of things. One day the bulb might just come on and you'll see the ENDLESS potential when applied to custom gun making.
First and foremost, humble yourself and make the decision to devote the next 5 years to actually learning how to put those fundamental skills to work in a profitable manner. I can promise you a file/dremel tool are the last tools I look for when building a rifle for my clients. I don't even own a dremel that I keep at work.
I didn't just fall into any of this. I starved on $250/wk for the first four years. Hated it at the time but I wouldn't trade it for anything now. Later, things started to happen and life has improved significantly since. Be diligent and take the view of the trade being a lifestyle instead of a 9-5 bill paying grunge of a job.
Good luck and welcome.
Last edited by LongRifles, Inc.; April 29, 2010 at 02:19 PM.