Monthly Archives: May 2012
FVCC’s Continuing Education department has announced the addition of gunsmithing courses to their offerings. During July of 2012 seven new courses will be offered to hobby gunsmiths and professionals alike. Brandon Miller, Coordinator for the new Gunsmithing courses was the NRA Coordinator for Murray State College as well as a gunsmithing instructor, until his move to the Kalispell area in 2011.
Two armorers courses are being offered and are in the process of accreditation via POST. The first is an AR-15, AR-10 Armorers Course. This five day (40 hour) course is to familiarize the student with the AR-15/AR-10 weapons format. Instruction will include function, disassembly, as well as reassembly, of main and sub groups. Troubleshooting and function testing tips, tool use and the installation of many aftermarket custom parts. Optional caliber choices in the AR-15 format will be addressed. The AR-10 and various manufacturers will be discussed, with particular attention to compatibility of parts. Students should to bring their own firearms as guns will not be provided.
Second, a five day (40 hour) course will focus on design, function and repair to factory service specifications for shotguns, including the study of feeding, loading, extraction, headspace, gas systems and basic repair and maintenance of all parts. Guns covered will be Benelli M1, Remington 870, Remington 1100, Remington 11-87, Mossberg 500, Mossberg 835, etc.
An exciting opportunity to learn from an American Custom Gunmakers Guild member, Lee Helgeland, the art of gunstock checkering. Tools, layout and patterns will be discussed in depth as you actually checker your own gunstock. The tips and tricks discussed can shave years off the learning curve of this artistic and functional part of stockmaking. Bring your gunstocks and tools, this is a hands on class.
Fred Zeglin, Master Gunsmith, will be teaching two classes for this program. The first is his popular Wildcat Cartridge Design class. This class takes the student from a raw idea to making the tools needed to form brass and chamber a barrel for a custom cartridge design. Students will make tools in this class and walk away with a full understanding of how to safely design and test a cartridge.
Fred’s second class will be Glass Bedding for rifles. This five day course will highlight stress-free bedding processes while focusing on pillar bedding. The course will discuss the intricacies of the ultra accurate bolt action field rifle on today’s market. Areas covered will be bedding, scope mounting, headspace and triggers. The student will have the opportunity to bed at least one rifle in the method he/she chooses. Methods for different actions and reasoning behind the different processes will be discussed in detail. Stock pillars will be made in class. Bring your rifle.
Other classes will be Alterntive Finihses: The purpose of this class is to familiarize the student with various finishes other than hot caustic bluing. There will be an instruction and demonstration in hot water bluing treatments such as Brownells Classic Rust Blue and Dicropan IM, as well as Nitre Blue. Students will also be instructed in the use of Zinc/Manganese Parkerizing as well as the setup and application of various spray-on finishes. Students will have and opportunity to apply Parkerizing or one of the spray-on finishes to at least one firearm and possibly a second one if time allows. So, bring your projects.
Finally, Color Case Hardening. The differences between color case hardening modern actions as compared to antique actions will be discussed. Participants will receive hands-on training as they color case harden various parts and/or actions. Students will need to bring their own projects.
There are only a few gunsmithing schools around the country, so in order to take these classes students normally have to travel to one of these schools. By offering these classes FVCC becomes the only school in the Pacific Northwest to provide such quality training. For more information contact the Continuing Education Offices at FVCC, (406) 756-3822 or better yet, check out their web site: https://ace.fvcc.edu/ShowSchedule.awp?&Mode=GROUP&Group=GS&Title=Gunsmithing
Imagine you reach the end of your life and you have saved a few mementos of your favorite memories. You were an avid hunter all your life, and you saved the recovered bullets from each trophy you took. From your first mule deer when you were just a lad, to the bullet that stopped a cougar from munching on you.
Now with sense of history, you decide to pass this material along to a friend, another gun writer who will perhaps use the material for future articles. But, more important, he appreciates the lifetime of experience represented by your little collection.
Fast forward, Elmer Keith has long since left the hunting fields, his writer buddy who I was unable to discover by name, passes away too. His family decides to donate all his reloading gear to the gunsmith program at Murray State College in Oklahoma. In the box is discovered the collection of Elmer Keith hunting bullets. For unknown reasons the bullets were not immediately donated to a museum. A decision that the current director of the program regrets.
The entire collection disappeared a couple of weeks after these pictures were taken. I feel lucky to have seen these items and to have been able to photograph them. It is my sincere hope that the person who has this bit of history will realize how wrong it is to keep it locked away from gun lovers everywhere. There is an Elmer Keith Museum in the Cabela’s in Boise, ID that is the natural resting place for these items, along side many other items from the Keith collection.