A gunsmith repairs and maintains all types of firearms, including handguns, rifles, shotguns, and antique weapons. These professionals are in demand at sports stores, collectible shops, and law enforcement agencies — and many begin their careers by earning credentials from online gunsmithing certificate programs.
In order to enroll in an online gunsmithing program, applicants must present a high school diploma and pass a state and federal background check. In addition to these formal requirements, applicants should also have general knowledge of woodworking, metallurgy, and the ability to interpret and draft product blueprints; for this reason, completion of high school-level shop classes may greatly benefit the applicant. If he or she has been out of school for a few years, he or she can brush up on drafting, woodworking, or machinery skills at a local community college prior to enrollment in a gunsmithing certificate program.
A few colleges offer the gunsmith certificate along with trade schools and classes can last from six months to two years. The National Rifle Association (NRA) provides a list of accredited, short-term gunsmithing programs. Students enrolled in one of these programs learn the function and design of many types of firearms, along with the ability to diagnose and repair them. They also study machining in order to cut internal threads and fabricate gun parts, and welding to repair firing pins and other essential components of the gun. Students who attend online gunsmithing schools will be required to purchase several tools for the hands-on components of the program; these include:
- Dial caliper
- Feeler gauges
- Steel ruler
- Allen wrench
- Pistol and rifle cleaning rods
- Shop apron
Students will learn how to use these tools to disassemble and reassemble different types of guns and customize them according to specifications, as well as the fundamentals of firearm safety.
What’s Next for Gunsmithing Certificate Holders?
Once students complete their certification, they must earn an Federal Firearms Licence from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in order to be recognized as a certified firearms dealer. To maintain their license, the gunsmith must follow federal regulations by keeping a record of all completed firearm sales and background checks. This license is different from the one obtained by a civilian gun owner, in that it allows a gunsmith to possess someone else’s gun for longer than one day. Before the license can be granted, an agent will conduct an in-person interview with the gunsmith and visit their worksite.
While no further education is required to work as a gunsmith, graduates do have the opportunity to apply for membership in a gunsmithing guild; this inclusion provides the individual with extra credentials that may prove instrumental in launching his or her own business. Gunsmiths can be generalized or they may specialize in a certain area of the trade, such as gun design, engraving, or antique model restoration.