Gunsmiths are people who design, repair or manufacture guns. Gunsmithing is a skill that requires a wide range of knowledge about guns, which includes its designing, manufacturing, knowledge of individual parts, repairing, and modifying.
One can learn to be a gunsmith by pursuing a course in that field and doing an apprenticeship under a professional gunsmith or a company.
1. What Should You Do to Be a Gunsmith?
Gunsmiths are craftsmen who are highly trained in designing and repairing firearms. To become a gunsmith, a person must be an expert in the inner mechanisms of firearms and know the techniques to fire guns safely.
Also, a thorough knowledge of the mechanism of firearms is essential to become a gunsmith. Being a gunsmith, the person can build custom guns and can fit the manufactured guns to their client’s preferences.
Gunsmithing has a wide range of learning. There are various activities that one can learn to become a professional gunsmith. For instance, a gunsmith may need to design a top-notch rifle for a hunter or engrave a symbol on an heirloom pistol.
Many gunsmiths focus on only one aspect of the profession to make their way in a particular field. A gunsmith can either go for manufacturing or designing.
It is not a type of learning that you can learn online or with free tutorials. To become a gunsmith, you need to apply practical knowledge, for which the person has to join an association and institution.
Also, it is a licensing occupation. To get an authorized license the person must go through the necessary procedures.
2. How to Become a Gunsmith in 5 Steps?
To become a gunsmith depends on how far you want to go in this career or in which field you are specializing. Let’s take a look at the five steps given below to become a gunsmith.
2.1. Complete a Certified Course
You need to get a minimum of a high school diploma with an additional training course. Acquiring a certificate from a certified institution can help pursue this career. An associate degree is better to go a long way and become a professional.
Courses about gunsmithing mainly focus on teaching ballistics, algebra, drafting, firearm usage, metal finishing, and woodworking.
2.2. Pursue an Apprenticeship
To gain practical experience, an apprenticeship is a must to do. You can learn the basics of gunsmithing during this period and gain experience to pursue it further. Doing an apprenticeship can help you find more opportunities in the relevant field of gunsmithing.
2.3. Obtain a License
To become a gunsmith, you need to get an ATF license, which is the most common license in this field that’s a must. Many employers need to do a background check of the candidates which also includes a drug check.
However, it does not allow you to carry guns. This license permits you to maintain and sell guns.
2.4. Attend Interviews
After submitting the application and fee to get a license, the ATF may call you to attend an interview. This interview is done to verify your background check and get to know your understanding of the rules and regulations about guns.
2.5. Join a Professional Organization
After acquiring a license, the next step is to join a professional organization. It helps grow your career opportunities, provides you with jobs and experience, and contributes to becoming a professional gunsmith.
3. What Education Does a Gunsmith Require?
To get formal training in gunsmithing, students enroll in different gunsmithing schools and institutions. The training programs include woodworking, firearm safety, custom gunsmithing, and other essential subjects.
Depending on your chosen program, you can get a completion certificate or a degree at the end of the program. However, before officially working with clients, getting a federal firearms license is necessary.
Further, many other educational ways can be followed to become a gunsmith. People can also enter the profession by getting trained properly and completing a gunsmithing probationary period.
These kinds of opportunities allow aspiring gunsmiths to acquire practical knowledge and experience under the guidance of an experienced professional. This profession requires practical knowledge and training that can be earned after completing even a high school diploma or an associate’s degree.
However, the institution plays a crucial role, to pursue this career professionally and go afar, it’s better to get a diploma or training with a valid and recognized institute, especially in the relevant fields of gunsmithing.
3.1. Professional Organizations of Gunsmithing
By enrolling in a gunsmithing association, you can unlock varied opportunities for professional networking and development in the field of gunsmithing. Given below are some famous organizations to learn gunsmithing:
- National Rifle Association (NRA): This association organizes numerous firearms educational programs and learning events for aspiring learners across the United States.
- American Gunsmithing Association (AGA): The American Gunsmithing Association publishes a free-of-cost monthly newsletter, which is designed to teach the basic to advanced levels of gunsmithing techniques.
- National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF): This foundation offers a wide range of discounts in the industry, educational, and research content.
The members of professional gunsmithing associations can get access to the up to date research in the industry. Many of these organizations may also provide financial aid resources for the desirable gunsmiths.
3.2. Where Can Gunsmiths Be Employed?
After completing graduation, people with a certified diploma or a degree can secure many jobs with a broad range of gunsmithing employers. Many gunsmiths start their careers by working under professionals or in small gunsmithing shops.
In gunsmithing shops, employees often serve the apprenticeship period. Later, desired individuals can launch their own independent gunsmithing business. Other people can work at sporting goods and gun ranges stores.
Here, you can repair firearms or teach the customers about gun safety rules and also evaluate them. Further, people can also work at factories and under manufacturers. Moreover, the military and law enforcement organizations employ gunsmiths to maintain and buy their service weapons.
3.3. Skills Needed to Become a Gunsmith
A gunsmith must have technical and interpersonal skills that can be gained during studying, training, and under the guidance of experienced mentors. Given below are some important skills for a gunsmith to learn:
- Learn to pay attention to details.
- Use hand tools to engrave, files, chisel, weld guns, and solder.
- Enhance communication skills to easily interpret the requirements of the clients and explain work to them professionally.
- Customer Service Skills are the basic need that a gunsmith must know.
- Problem-solving skills are required to examine the problems with firearms.
- Crafting skills in woodworking, engraving, metalworking, and machining.
- Mathematically skills are extremely necessary to calculate the dimensions of the gun.
- To apply finishes to the guns, you need to learn how to operate a spray gun.
An apprenticeship can help you learn many of these abilities needed to grow in this career.
4. Specializations in Gunsmithing
Specializations in gunsmithing have a wide range of skills in gunsmithing. People usually prefer to specialize in any one aspect of their skills and become experts in a specialized field. There are many niches to the craft, given below are some popular niches in gunsmithing:
- Pistolsmiths are gunsmiths who mainly focus on the maintenance, designing, and repairing the revolvers and pistols.
- Stockmakers are the specialists who work with objects like rasps and chisels to shape wood gunstocks and join them seamlessly to the metallic part of the guns.
- Gun Engravers are the artists who create the custom designs and carve them to the firearms’ steel surfaces. Customers often decide to imprint the guns for sentimental purposes or to raise their financial value.
- Custom Gunsmiths are the craftsmen who create aristocratic firearms for professional target shooters, hunters, sports shooters, and various other clients depending on their requirements.
- Manufacturers are professionals who develop different types of gun parts such as locks and barrels. Later, they sell these parts to the other gunsmiths for further manufacturing.
By enrolling in any gunsmithing institute, you can pursue the desired specialization that you want and avail of certificates. It is better to do an apprenticeship after gaining a certificate to gain practical knowledge under a mentorship.
5. Everyday Work of a Gunsmith
There are various tasks and jobs that a gunsmith does, which include designing, maintaining, building, and improving firearms. However, their everyday responsibilities can vary depending on their job type and employer.
- Following are the tasks that a gunsmith performs daily:
- Altering the guns and their parts to fit their client’s requirements.
- Teaching clients about the safety protocols of a firearm.
- Inscribing the guns to develop unique designs.
- Adjusting the guns.
- Discarding rust from guns.
- Staying updated about the regulations based on local, state, and federal firearms.
- Repairing firearms, which are under manufacturer warranties.
- Testing the firearms safely.
- Improving firing mechanisms.
- Cleaning firearms for better use and improvement.
- Examine guns for safety purposes.
- Refurbishing historical firearms.
These are several everyday tasks that can be learned during a gunsmithing apprenticeship.
6. Careers of a Gunsmith
There are various opportunities for a Gunsmith and many gunsmiths prefer to begin their start-ups or work with professionals in shops. They can provide comprehensive services relevant to gunsmithing.
Further, they can be specialized in stockmaking, pistolsmithing, and various other niches. Sporting goods retailers, armouries, firearms manufacturers, and the military are several employers who hire gunsmiths frequently.
It also includes law enforcement departments, gun shops, and factories. Some gunsmiths prefer to pursue careers in related industries by applying their skills and knowledge.
For instance, a gunsmith can work as a carpenter or a construction worker with the help of woodworking skills.
Similarly, gunsmiths can also become design engineers, machinists, or engineering technologists by applying their manufacturing and design skills. There are a plethora of careers that can be pursued after becoming a gunsmith.
These works can be done simultaneously as part-time jobs. Several engineering posts require additional knowledge that might be suitable for a gunsmith. However, job availability can vary based on employer, skills, education, and geographic area.
7. Is Gunsmithing a Demanding Career?
Gunsmithing is a niche domain that has its particular jobs, fields, and requirements, so the career opportunities may be finite here. The Bureau of Labor Statistics classified gunsmithing into two parts, plastic and metal machine workers.
It is projected that the demand will decrease by 5% for the entire category of workers in the next ten years. But, approximately 101,700 new jobs are prepared to open for these workers annually during this period. However, this date does not consider the need for gunsmiths in general for this job category.
However, there are many purposes for people to buy guns, which include hobbies, sports, protection, and law enforcement. And for these purposes, the gunsmiths will continue to sell, maintain, modify, restore, and repair these guns.
In short, as the people continue to collect and buy firearms, the gunsmiths will be obliged to manufacture. This may keep this career in demand in the upcoming years.
8. How Much Time You Need to Spend to Become a Gunsmith?
After going through each detail, you must be wondering about the time you need to spend to become a gunsmith. The time to spend during the process depends on several factors that firstly include the educational path you select.
Typically, it takes 6 months to 12 months to complete a certified gunsmithing diploma or a certificate. Also, some gunsmithing institutions provide short-term courses that last from 1 week to 2 weeks, but these courses are unaccredited.
You can also take a degree in the field of gunsmithing. Part-time students can prefer the 6-month to 1-year courses. But, there are associate degrees for both full-timers and part-timers. Full-timers can complete their degree within 16 months to 2 years, while part-timers can complete an associate degree in three years.
Some students finish an apprenticeship alongside their degree completion or instead of taking a formal education program. An apprenticeship to gain good knowledge and little experience usually lasts one to two years.
Gunsmithing is an awe-inspiring career with limited career opportunities. A candidate must have a relevant interest in becoming a professional gunsmith. Firstly, it requires at least a high school diploma to move forward in this career.
You need to be attentive during training sessions and start to know the basics. As a next step, consider doing an apprenticeship, getting a license, and joining a professional organization. Gunsmithing is not a hobby, it’s a serious job that requires knowledge and dedication to grow more.