Gunsmithing is a perfect trade for those already interested in the firearms hobby. You will find a perfect career where you can work with your hands and put your artistic and engineering talents to use on a daily basis. While specific information is not tracked by the BLS, gunsmithing is a trade that is in high demand. There is plenty of growth in the hobby and as more diverse cultures start collections, the need for your skills will rise quickly. The artistic side of the trade will have you working on engravings like checkering and other vanity work as well as certain customizations. For the engineering side of the field, you will spend a great deal of time in repair, enhancement, upgrades and even restoration. Restoration will require a deep understanding of firearms in a general sense as you will often need to create custom parts to ensure the antique is working as it once did.
You have a few options for your career upon licensing and graduation. Expect to earn an average income of $35,000 a year. This number will vary based on employer, employment type, skill, education and experience. If you want the security of a “9-5” job you may want to look to manufacturers or sporting goods outlets. Here you will work on repair, share knowledge about firearms and how they work and work on customization which could enhance a product line for a manufacturer.
If you wish to embrace the entrepreneurial side of the trade, look to gun store ownership as a quick path to success. The risk is still there, but if you can run a successful retail business, you will be able to put your gunsmithing talents to work. You will often have your workshop attached to your storefront and will pick up a constant stream of new clients as they enter your store as customers.
You will need to obtain a license to practice as a gunsmith. The laws are strict when it comes to firearms and the ATF will need to work with you to meet the strict requirements that will be necessary to practice your trade. If you train at a trade school, this information will be covered, but read on to learn more here.
Enter the Trade
There are multiple paths to becoming a gunsmith. First, you can try to make it on your own. Use your own tools and collection to practice and hone your techniques and skills from books and websites. You will have to invest a significant amount into the tools and the collection on which to practice, but you can do it on your time how you want. You could also pursue an apprenticeship with an experienced gunsmith. It may take time to find an open apprenticeship and you may stay in your position for years, but the experience that you gain from working with someone that has made a living in the trade may be worth exploring.
The quickest and most popular way to enter the field is by attending a trade school. There are no listed gunsmithing programs in Indiana, but you may find them if you explore some of your local community colleges or smaller trade schools. If you don’t find them close to home, explore the online trade school options listed on this site. You can learn the trade on your schedule and graduate with a certificate which will make it significantly easier to enter the field as a licensed and educated gunsmith.