Firearms Repair Training Programs and Courses

Firearms repair training programs teach individuals how to evaluate, maintain and repair guns, pistols, rifles and shotguns. Firearm training programs are offered through community and technical colleges as undergraduate programs. Firearm repair specialists also train aspiring gunsmiths through formal apprenticeships.

Training Requirements and Recommendations

In order to work as a firearms repair specialist, sometimes referred to as a gunsmith, training is imperative. Colleges offer basic to advanced training in firearms repair. Manufacturers and industry professionals also sponsor on-the-job training through apprenticeship programs. Individuals interested in working as firearm repair specialists should have dexterity, good hand-to-eye coordination and basic math skills. Because there is such an array of gun types and manufacturers, firearms specialists may focus on fixing particular guns or brands.

Formal Education

Hands-on training is vital in a formal firearms repair program. Most colleges have gunsmith labs that feature welding, machine and wood shops. Firing ranges may also be onsite.

Certificate in Gunsmithing

Certificate programs range from 15-30 credits and offer a foundation in firearms knowledge, safety and repair. Specialty certificate programs may be available in exterior refinishing, instrumentation technology or gunsmith design.

Diploma in Gunsmithing

At the diploma level, students gain more advanced knowledge of firearms repair and develop general business acumen. They learn to adjust triggers, stocks and barrels and gain skills for developing their own ammunition. Students also study metalworking and engraving. Additionally, they learn about firearms regulations.

Associate of Applied Science in Gunsmithing

A 2-year gunsmith program is similar to a diploma program; however, students also take a liberal arts core. Gunsmithing curriculum often includes classes in technical math and metallurgy. They also learn to interpret technical specifications and may take a few more complex lectures and labs in firearms repair and modifications.

Job Experience

Individuals who have completed a diploma or associate degree program have usually participated in 1-2 internships. Additional experience with firearms can be gained by getting a part-time job at a gun or hunting store. Interested individuals may also be able to learn through informal or unpaid apprenticeships.

A number of paid firearm apprenticeships are available to trained or untrained aspirants through the Association for Gunsmiths and Related Trades ( Programs range from 4,000 or more hours for the firearm repair specialist track to 8,000 or more hours for more advanced gunsmith, shotgun, pistol, rifle or classic gunsmith programs. While firearm repair apprentices learn to diagnose and repair guns, they generally do not learn machine repair skills, which are required of smith apprentices. Individuals who successfully complete an apprenticeship earn a certificate of completion and the Journeyman title.

Licenses and Certifications

In order to repair firearms, trained specialists must apply to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ( for a mandatory Federal Firearms License from the ATF. Interested firearm repairers must send in an application and required fee in addition to recent photographs and fingerprints. The ATF runs a background check and sends a field representative to conduct a personal interview with the applicant. After approval, licenses take approximately two months to be received.

Workshops and Seminars

Firearm repair organizations and colleges often sponsor training workshops, which can last 3-9 days. During this time, participants usually view instructional demonstrations and gain hands-on training. Topics can include business techniques for sole proprietors and shop owners or firearms assembly and fine-tuning strategies.

Additional Professional Development

Firearm repair specialists can search the Web for related message boards, blogs or instructional videos. Additionally, gunsmith books and magazines often provide helpful tips or explore trends and topics in firearms.

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