Becoming a gunsmith requires a great deal of hard work and dedication to the craft. It is not one of the most common careers available, but some people are meant to do the job. Knowing what is required of you when you begin your pursuit for college, will help you to make the right decisions about your career. Learn more about what it takes to become a gunsmith and how you can get started.
Becoming a Gunsmith
A gunsmith is responsible for the construction, maintenance and repair of firearms. This career involves a wide array of skills, including mechanical expertise and knowledge of science and mathematics. Guns are designed to exacting tolerances and precise measurements, which requires gunsmiths to be proficient in precision metalworking and woodcraft skills. Knowledge of gun safety and safe operation of power and hand tools are also important factors for any gunsmith. Most gunsmiths have some technical training from a community college or technical school and must have a Federal Firearms License.
Prospective students will not be admitted to a gunsmith program without first passing a firearms background check. Since convicted felons are prohibited from possessing firearms, schools are required to ensure that their students are legally permitted to work on firearms. Domestic violence misdemeanor convictions and restraining orders against the student are also disqualifying circumstances. The student must also not have been adjudicated mentally incompetent nor have been committed to a mental health institution.
Associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates in gunsmithing are available from colleges and technical schools nationwide. These programs range from 6-month diploma or certificate programs to 2-year associate degree programs. Courses generally focus on the tooling and mechanical skills required to craft and repair firearms. Students learn the differences in function and design between types of firearms, methods for diagnosing non-functioning firearms and how to make the necessary repairs. Gunsmiths often need to craft both the metal and wood components of firearms from scratch, so courses are fairly universal and include firearm safety, stock making and metalworking, as well as other machine shop skills.
Because gunsmiths often retain possession of clients’ firearms for more than a day, they are required by federal law to have a Federal Firearms License. The application for this license requires information similar to that provided for the background check and also requires that an FFL license holder be at least 21 years of age and meet more stringent ethical and legal requirements. FFL also requires that the gunsmith have a building detached from the residence where the gunsmith work is performed.
Gunsmiths who are new to the field might consider joining related professional organizations. The American Custom Gunmakers Guild, for instance, offers networking opportunities and the chance to learn from experienced gunsmiths.