These guys are great. I have known the owner and most of his instructors for years. They are a highly professional bunch if Gunsmiths who have dedicated themselves to the preservation of the knowledge of a number of the best gunsmiths in the United States. In the process creating an easy way for new people to learn from the best.
At Shot Show I spoke with Gene “Machine Gun” Kelly. Gene made a couple of points to me that were interesting.
First, we were talking about the teaching style of Bob Dunlap. Bob is a gunsmith and teacher. I have personally known him since the early 80’s when he was the lead instructor of Gunsmithing at Lassen College in Susanville, CA. Bob has a unique approach to gunsmithing, at least in terms of teaching it. He teaches the design and function of firearm, in other words he teaches the systems and how they work.
When you go from one type of firearm to another there are always things that carry over. For instance, when you look at a locking mechanism for a breech system it will be a style or type that is recognizable, even though the various parts do not interchange or sometimes even look the same. By instructing this way Bob make is possible for you as a gunsmith to work on guns you have never seen before, because you can break down the functions of the firearm and recognize the system it is based on.
The second point that Gene made to me was that as AGI attends events and talks with industry leaders it has become obvious that, As a company AGI is training more gunsmiths than all the traditional brick and mortar schools combined.”
That’s a big statement but it’s easy to understand why. First of all, AGI is offering a Home study program that you can do on your own schedule and you don’t have to uproot yourself for a couple of years to attend a College somewhere. That also makes it a very cost effective way to learn.
Next I suspect that many gunsmiths utilize some of the materials to upgrade their skills. I know there are guns that came to the market since I went to school and it is faster to review one of AGI’s courses than it is to teach myself. Plus often there are some quick little tricks and tips that come from the video that save time and money.
I’m certainly not knocking the brick and mortar schools. I have taught NRA Gunsmithing Courses for two of them and I went to a third school to start my career. Attending a school full time gives you an opportunity for a fully immersed learning experience that cannot be replaced by any other method. Yet, it requires a commitment that does not work for every person who wants to become a qualified gunsmith.
I did a video for AGI called “Taming Wildcats”. Naturally it benefits me business wise, but the main reason I did the DVD was because Gene Kelly sold me on the fact that we are recording this information for future gunsmiths. So many of the great gunsmiths who went before us took their knowledge and experience to the grave without really sharing it. I am proud of the resulting course which does a good job of explaining what goes into the process of design, research, and testing of cartridges.
If your interested in gunsmithing, want to become a gunsmith, or want to expand your knowledge as a practicing professional. I would recommend the AGI courses to all.
Shot Show 2011, nearly all the AGI instructors were available to talk to the public at their booth. Friendly and courteous does not tell you how nice these folks are to deal with.