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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking to switch careers-- my hearts in it, and have the support of the wife. I've been doing amateur stuff for years-- mostly clean and patch type jobs-- replacing factory parts before learning to fabricate simple things myself. Read whatever I could get my hands on-- manuals, gunsmithing kinks texts, etc.
I'm currently reviewing schools and what their general turn over is-- how well graduates perform on the national scale and hired by what firms. I've already got both a B.a. and M.a.-- so I hope I'd be able to by-pass core requirements.
I'm predominately interested in tactical shotgun, bolt action blue-printing/accurizing, accurate AR, 1911s and customization, basic and advanced machining technique, refinishing, and design theory.
I've looked into Trinidad's program since it's the most frequently mentioned. Tuition seems high for what classes are offered and when--and they don't offer alot of the sort of classes I'd be interested in.
Oklahoma's school looks very promising-- they offer a number of courses in machining, welding, and design theory. The last, design theory, is very important to me as I want to understand the fundamentals of design style and function. Tuition seems very reasonable, but there's little on what kind of placing alumni see-- and no instructors I'd heard of.
Pennsylvania and north Carolina both have schools-- good instructors and decent tuition-- but the classes they offer are rather limited and spotty.

I bear in mind the kind of education I can take to any reputable firm or independant gunsmith and find either a job or apprenticeship. Likewise, I defer to the wisdom of this community-- it's not a question of my sincerity or dedication-- cost, well, I'll find a way.
I'm ultimately determined to do this-- it's been a personal secret for some time now that I want to be a smith. I am disillusioned with academia, the politics involved at the college level has taken all love out of teaching for me-- not that it could ever hold a candle to my true passion.
Please, I ask for only some real consideration in this matter. I'm not afraid of the cost, and the fact is my mind's been made up for a long time. Studying under a competent smith at this point is not an available option. An educational grant is perhaps my best chance to fulfilling the necessary means of moving to a new place and getting on my feet. Besides, I've nothing to show a smith to get him to hire me as an apprentice-- the only real work I've done in recent history has been rebuilding old guns and assembling AR's. If I ever want to work under the tutelage of men like either of the Rogers, Harrison, or Miller, then I want a decent certificate to my name.

Thank you in advance for any and all help-- these have been very trying times for me and mine, and coming to this decision wasn't easy-- but perhaps the best for my sanity and soul.
 

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there are two in NC, Person Comm college In Roxboro and Montgomery CC in Troy. Both are small towns so your cost of living would be low.
 

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There's also Lassen in CA :barf:, Yavapai in AZ, and CST - which I attended. You'll probably find CST's curriculum structure more to your liking. Unlike the other schools mentioned, this is not offered in a JC/CC format. It's divided up into five sections and you go all day, every day. Your focus is on whatever projects are required in each respective section. You don't have to worry about English, Literature, Biology, etc. It's not exactly cheap and you'd have to relocate for a little over a year - the program is 14 mos, but it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
 

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The top schools have always been Colorado School of trades, Trinidad Jr. College, and Lassen in California.

Colorado School of Trades is always listed as Number One or Two by the experts.
Colorado has a long and justified reputation of turning out hard core Professionals.

Just one "look out": If you plan on EVER opening your own shop, you better be taking some serious business courses.
Self-employed gunsmiths are NOT gunsmiths. They're BUSINESSMEN, who do gunsmithing.
Most of their day is doing businessman's stuff, and you better know how to run a business.

I've seen some technically great gunsmiths loose their shirts in less than a year because they didn't know business skills.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you for the wonderful suggestions-- CST has been somehting I've been keeping my eye on especially. But I've not seen anything on design classes or likewise theory driven material.
Again, I'd like to know the functional deifferences between JMB's original design and the ones we carry now-- from the fullsize to the Cbob, to square firing pin edges versus beveled.
I'd want to go Class 7-- production. I've been in the gun business as an employee-- and dislike the trade. I'd rather turn floor space into a front room to display. As long as the overhead's low, then I'd feel better about the sale curve.
I still understand the basic differences between classroom business and real world. Most everyone I know's been stuck in one get-rich-quick scheme or another, so it's a matter of knowing better. The key difference in The Industry is best, currently, summarized IMHO as Ned Christiansen and Jason Burton. Ned's put an edge to modern design while Jasons had the savy to add to the collaboration. Both men have put a new shine to this old button, and I aspire to their levels.
Of course there's new blood with folks like Robert Miller, while the Roggers, Harrison, and the like keep the table warm. It's all food for thought-- not just in making successful business ventures or turning out beautiful firearms, but in what it is they're making.
I've considered the basics in terms of costs-- tools, overhead, and parts-- nevermind a year at school.
I know it's hard to believe based upon a simple messageboard message, but if you met me in real life, it'd make sense to you. Gunshows were an excuse to talk to people-- and I've made good friends because of it, but then again, I remember when Cheaper Than Dirt had their own booths.
I'll stress this--I'm willing to learn business from the folks already at work in the industry while I'm learning. The educative process has to take place outside of school on some level. I'm otherwise awake for 19-hours a day-- and my amibtions don't end with just working with/on firearms...or ultimately abandoning the work I've endured for two other degrees.
There's alot to be said about gun journalism...in articles on technique or history are one thing-- but discussing models, interviews, and the like, leave a lot to be desired. The teacher in me can't help but sit there with a red pen and work over Fortier's articles like a freshamn term paper.
If there's anything I could possibly say about Jason Burton, it's that he's eloquent. He manages to turn a phrase and hit the right loaded terms for the right emotional response from his audience. He can evoke nostalgia and comraderie in most anything he writes.
Likewise, Rogers is thorough, to say the least, in his language use when discussing technical matters right down to the how-to's. He's the noted expert on barrel ramping--and yet he's managed to write about it with a comartable familiarity and ease that make any novice not only duplicate, but otherwise find the confidence to undertake such a task. In otherwords: his writing makes it seem easy.

My business acumen is derived from my communicative abilities-- I'll manage by talking over their heads or using the right terms to keep the right people interested. As rogers states, it's better to be proactive than leave it to others to be reactive.
I've been mulling over the business side of things for a while and will continue to do so until such time as I'm close the graduating. The plan is to walk out of school with some clear cut direction. Oh no, this is business-- and to get the support of other people, I'll need for them to understand the potential earnings on this one. It's a degree higher than most, but thanks to No Child Left Behind, you have to learn the business of BS rather quickly.

Thank you all-- I'd written folks like Rogers and Burton weeks ago asking this very same question. But based upon their schedules, can understand no response. Thus, I have gratefully been received by ya'll for more info than I'd initially hoped.

So business aside--
What I've wondered about CST are the available design theory courses and machining instruction-- particularly TIG welding and beveling. If say, on a 1911-- I wanted to make hi-power cuts or french fluting-- would I learn how to cut the proper angles and using the appropriate sanding methods.
Weapon "melting" for carry is something I'm seriously interested in. I've alsways admired old Jim Clarks melt jobs. Again, something I'd be interested in learning from a prospective program.
 

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CST does not offer any design theory courses. They are a gunsmithing school, not an engineering school. Their approach is that firearm design is best left to engineers. While you will receive around 3-4 mos. of mill/lathe instruction, gunsmiths aren't machinists either. Sure, a lot of 'smiths have some machining experience but that isn't the school's focus. You'll have an opportunity, toward the end of the program, to concentrate on 1911's if that's what you choose. However, the school tries to expose students to all aspects of gunsmithing as opposed to true specialization. The bottom line is it's not geared toward the production and manufacturing side of the business.
 

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I have a good friend in the school in NC if you want me to ask any questions. He just finished his 1911 project.

As far as Jason, you hit the nail on the head. He is very articulate. And seems to me to be a real nice person. I met him at the shot show and had dealt with him on a gun that he built for me. He seems to me to be an asset to the hobby and I hope that he maybe goes to work for the NRA some day. We need good solid genuine people fronting us as a group. I hope he goes far.

Rob
 

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to echo Defarriswheel about the buissness side of things, understanding taxes, cashflow, depreciation, deductible expenses and the like are key no matter what trade you are in. I work for some fellas that are the topdogs in our field, but they are not buissness men. They knew enough to make alot of money, but they have left alot on the table because they didnt know they could do it better. I have seen farmers do the same thing, make beautiful crops but not do well with managing the money side because they did the best they knew how to do, but didnt pursue any training.
 
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