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Old December 26, 2008, 01:16 AM   #1
Rich Miranda
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Gunsmithing Schools and/or apprenticeships - how does it work?

I am 34 and have decided to change careers after being in the same industry for 16 years (my entire adult life). I have many options open to me, but I am throwing around the possibility of becoming a gunsmith. I obviously enjoy guns and I think I would like to be a gunsmith and retail store owner. More specifically, I think I must be a gunsmith in order to avoid competing directly with the likes of Cabela's and Academy (since I'll have more to offer than just gun sales).

Anywho, I know there are schools out there but the google search yields the usual clutter. Any thoughts on a good school? Does anyone have experience?

What about apprenticeships? How does one go about breaking into the business?
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Old December 26, 2008, 02:18 AM   #2
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What do you do now?
If it does not involve machining I think the first step would be to take a general machining class and see how it goes.
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Old December 26, 2008, 02:18 AM   #3
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Start by reading everything you can on gunsmithing. A couple good authors are Walter Howe, Roy Dunlap, and W. F. Vickery.

If you have the money, going to school would probably work okay. Colorado School of Trades is one that I've researched in the past. I never found out exactly how much the course costed, so I am assuming they wait to tell you until you are partially commited- its not very cheap, I know that.

As far as apprenticing, finding a gunsmith who would hire you on full time as an apprentice with no previous experience (I am assuming that is your situation) would be difficult, if not impossible. The more you already know, the better. A solid base of experience in general machining, correct hand tool operation (filing, chiseling, sanding, polishing, grinding etc) and overall gun knowledge will help.
If you can find a smith who is willing to let you come in a few hours a week and help with simple stuff, or just watch and learn, that's a big help, some will, and some won't. I've dealt with both.

Suffice to say, if you don't plan to go to school, I wouldn't expect to be able to just drop what you are doing now and get into smithing.(assuming your experience level is nil) It will take time. Meanwhile, you can start saving for tools and equipment. The lathe(s) and mill are the big ones, at $1000 to $10,000, but an established gunsmith has far more dollars into the hundreds of different pieces of tooling, hand tools, and spare parts.
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Last edited by NormOps; December 26, 2008 at 10:08 PM.
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Old December 26, 2008, 10:26 AM   #4
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Purely anecdotal, but I hear and read about these two all the time: the aforementioned Colorado School of Trades has been around for decades; and for studying specifically about the 1911, Lassen Community College in Susanville, CA has received good press. Again, no first hand experience, but the preponderance of hearsay evidence is overwhelming. A starting point anyway. Good luck with your attempt; I think a good smith will keep busy.
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Old December 26, 2008, 08:09 PM   #5
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Gunsmithing Schools and/or apprenticeships - how does it work?

I had a gunsmith near Flagstaff, AZ work on my Saiga .308. He went to the gunsmithing college there and states it is one of the best. In order to attend a gunsmithing school you are going to have to relocate-temporarily or permanently. Good luck!!!
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Old December 27, 2008, 07:53 AM   #6
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Heres a link to one here....From what I'm told its one of, if not the top gunsmith school in the country.
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