The Flathead valley has a long history of custom gun makers operating in the area as for back as the 1950’s. Numerous rifle barrel manufacturers large and small have made the area home from time to time. More recently, a large number of gun businesses have taken up residence.
In 2011 Chris Hyatt, of Whitefish, formed the Montana Firearms Institute as a 501(c)3 nonprofit along with state Sen. Ryan Zinke, and attorney Duncan Scott, seeing a need to foster communication between firearms businesses, and to help those small businesses compete for government contracts. The MFI has been instrumental in drawing attention to the need for gunsmithing classes at the college level.
So, along with the MFI, local businesses looked to Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) to help improve the quality of perspective and existing employees in the valley by offering training. The firearms trade requires a wide range of skills that are not readily absorbed from standard machine shop and wood working classes. There are many specialized skills and tools that make the job of building guns easier and more efficient.
The next closest schools that offer gunsmithing courses are in Susanville, California and Denver, Colorado. So a gunsmithing school here in the valley will have a large audience. The first round of classes were held in 2012 and were successful by every measure. FVCC is currently seeking NRA Affiliation for the gunsmithing program, which may make available a wider range of classes and support from the gun industry at large.
Gunsmithing Classes to be offered for Spring and Summer of 2013
AR-15/AR-10 Armorer /Customization Course
Glass Bedding Rifles Course
Designing Wildcat Cartridges
Alternative Metal Finishes
For more information on these classes visit the FVCC Web site, link below.