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Gunsmiths are skilled metal and woodworkers trained to build and repair guns. Some gunsmiths make a living using their skills, while others take up gunsmithing as a hobby. This article contains information on the craft of gunsmithing, the educational requirements for becoming a gunsmith, and the practical application of a gunsmithing diploma.


[Edit]Preparing to Become a Gunsmith

  1. Have an aptitude for learning technical skills. Guns must be designed and built to exacting specifications in order to function safely and properly. Gunsmiths must be proficient in working with wood, metal, and other shop materials to create an intricate piece of equipment.[1]
    • Math skills are important for gunsmiths, since they must measure and cut wood and metal.
    • Gunsmiths have excellent wood and metalworking skills. They know how to use shop equipment such as lathes, drill presses, precision measuring instruments, files and chisels, and other tools of the trade.
    • Gunsmiths have mechanical expertise. They understand the way the individual moving parts in a gun work together, and are able to identify the problem when a gun isn’t working correctly.
  2. Be interested in the history and production of guns. Gunsmiths understand that they are building on gunsmithing knowledge that has evolved over several hundred years.[2] They’re familiar with old and new gun models, manufacturers, and accessories.
    • Gunsmiths are often collectors or hobbyists who have the desire to craft guns on their own.
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    • Many gunsmiths are members of organizations like the National Rifle Association, or attend conferences, trade shows and other events to congregate with other gunsmiths and learn more information about guns.[3]
  3. Be serious about gun safety.[4] Licensed gunsmiths know the importance of handling guns according to standard gun safety rules and the laws in their region.[5]
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    • Gun safety extends to the crafting of the gun itself, since a faulty gun could be unsafe for the user.

[Edit]Education and Training

  1. Start early. Take industrial arts courses in high school such as machining, drafting and woodworking. These types of classes will form the basic skill set you need. If you’ve been out of high school for several years, take classes at a local community college to brush up on your skills.
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  2. Apply to a gunsmithing program at a college or trade school. Most of these programs take between six months and two years. A list of accredited schools can be found on the on the NRA website.[6]
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    • Gunsmithing programs teach mechanical and tooling skills, the different functions and designs of various firearms, diagnosing and repairing guns, safety procedures, and in some cases chemistry and ballistics.
    • Consider enrolling in an online gunsmithing program, a popular alternative in recent years.
    • Gunsmithing programs always conduct background checks on their prospective students; those who don’t pass are not admitted into the program.
  3. Find an apprenticeship. As an alternative or in addition to receiving a certification or diploma in gunsmithing, seek out a local gunsmith or apply through The Association of Gunsmiths and Related Trades (TAOGART) for apprenticeship status.[7]
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    • In order to apply through TAOGART you must be 16 or older. All applicants must be able to legally own and possess a firearm in compliance to federal and state laws.
    • If you are still in high school you must graduate and maintain at least a “C” average. You must have permission from your legal guardians and school officials (such as a principal or counselor).
    • A gunsmithing apprenticeship consists of on-site training and classroom instruction that totals about 8,000 hours. This time can vary depending on the type of firearm apprenticeship you undertake.
  4. Obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL). This license differs from other firearms licenses in that it allows you to maintain possession of another person’s firearm for more than a day, as you would do if you were repairing it.[8]
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    • In order to receive an FFL you must be over 21 years of age meet a number of strict gun safety requirements. A field agent will be dispatched to inspect your gunsmithing facilities and conduct an interview with you before the license is granted.
    • Apply for an FFL through the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Check your local area for other licensing requirements.

[Edit]Launching a Career as a Gunsmith

  1. Consider specializing in a certain type of gunsmithing. Some gunsmiths have found success by focusing on one of the following areas:[9]
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    • Custom gun designing and building.
    • Stockmaking, which involves building the gun stock using wood.
    • Gun engraving, which adds aesthetic value to guns with decorative or patterned engravings in the wood or metal.
    • Pistolsmithing, which is practiced by people who custom design and build only pistols. Other gunsmiths focus primarily on rifles or shotguns.
  2. Consider working for a company. Operating one’s own business can be difficult and risky, so some gunsmiths prefer to work for someone else. Gunsmiths are employed at sporting goods and firearms stores, firearms manufacturers, and armories.[10]
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  3. Apply for membership in a gunsmithing guild. This can provide you with recognition and support. These associations also have scholarships for students going into the gunsmithing profession.
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  • You may attend gun safety classes through most local police departments and hunting stores. Getting familiarized with guns and proper safety procedures before going to school can be beneficial.

[Edit]Related wikiHows


[Edit]Quick Summary

To become a gunsmith, try taking some technical classes, like machining, drafting, and woodworking if you’re still in school, which will help you build the foundational knowledge you need. Once you’ve learned the basics, consider applying for a gunsmithing program at a college or trade school, which will teach you all the technicalities of firearms and how to repair them. Alternatively, you can join an apprenticeship with a local gunsmith or through the Association of Gunsmiths and Related Trades for a more hands-on approach. Before you get a job as a gunsmith, you’ll also need a Federal Firearms License so you can work on other people’s firearms. When you’ve completed all of your training, search for a job with sporting goods and firearms stores, manufacturers, and armories to put your skills to use. For more tips, including how to specialize in certain areas of gunsmithing, like design and gun engraving, read on!

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