From Brownells - Brownells 8th Annual Gunsmith Conference & Career Fair Sets Another Attendance Record

Brownells 8th Annual Gunsmith Conference & Career Fair

Des Moines, Iowa - More than 475 attendees and 70 exhibitors attended Brownells 8th Annual Gunsmith Conference & Career Fair at the Downtown Marriott, April 1-2, 2014, in Des Moines, IA.

The record number of attendees listened to expert speakers like Ron Power, Sharon Dressel, Stan Chen, Roy Huntington, Jerry Fisher, John Krieger, Mike Tulowitzki, J. C. Hoffa, Jason Hornady, Bart Miller, John Holliger and Barry Lee Hands on a host of topics ranging from developing technical skills to best business practices.

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From Brownells: - Brownells 7th Annual Gunsmith Conference & Career Fair Sees Record Turnout

Brownells 7th Annual Gunsmith Conference & Career Fair Sees Record Turnout

Des Moines, Iowa - More than 400 attendees and 50 exhibitors filled the Des Moines, Iowa, Downtown Marriott, March 27-28, 2013, for the Brownells 7th Annual Gunsmith Conference & Career Fair.

Doubling last year's turnout, this year's event drew 155 gunsmithing students from seven of the country's premier gunsmithing schools. In addition to the students, the record crowd consisted of working gunsmiths and gun shop owners seeking networking opportunities. Additionally, legendary names like Joe Balickie, Ron Power, Sharon Dressel, Stan Chen, Jason Hornady, Jerry Fisher, Roy Huntington, and Frank Brownell presented industry-focused seminars aimed at improving gunsmith's skills at the bench and in business.

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Whether you want to become a professional gunsmith, hone your skills or pick it up as a hobby, the NRA has got you covered

Become a gunsmith with NRA's Short-Term Gunsmithing School

You're a shooter. You're fascinated with guns and want to learn all there is to know. You want to be able to repair, modify, design and build firearms... and have them work when you pull the trigger. It sounds like you want to become a gunsmith. If you're concerned you don't have the time to learn the necessary skills, worry no longer. The NRA Short-Term Gunsmithing School can teach you the trade at affiliated colleges in the United States over the course of several days to a couple weeks.

The program is constructed to provide individuals with the opportunity to take courses at a convenient pace without attending school full-time. Generalized around basic gunsmithing fundamentals, the classes are designed to build an educational foundation to better understand the trade. Though predominately adhering to the needs of beginners, the school also encourages professional gunsmithers to enroll in classes to improve existing skills while learning new techniques.

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Speedy Gonzalez of Trinidad State Junior College

We first introduced you to him last year, and now Speedy Gonzalez has been requested to speak at the American Custom Gunmakers Guild (ACGG) Show this January in Reno, Nevada. The ACGG Show is one of the most prestigious gatherings of firearms builders in the world.

Gonzalez is an NRA Short-Term Summer Gunsmithing Course Coordinator and an Instructor for Trinidad State Junior College's Brownell's-Trinidad American Firearms Technology Institute.

During the show, Gonzalez will address guild members in a three-hour symposium, presenting the application of the skills and processes that earned him a seat in the U.S. Benchrest Hall of Fame.

The AGGC Show will be held at John Ascuaga's Nugget Hotel January 20-22, 2012 with seminars held on Monday, January 23rd. Both the show and the seminars are open to the public.

Interested in becoming a gunsmith? Learn more about NRA's Short-Term Gunsmithing School program offered at four different colleges or the courses offered at Trinidad State Junior College. It's only 30 minutes away from the NRA Whittington Center!

Steve Hoback with NRA's Training Department was in Des Moines, Iowa last weekend attending the Brownell's 5th Annual Gunsmith Career Fair. Hoback was there representing NRA's Gunsmithing Schools program, but the Career Fair featured a variety of seminars geared towards career and business development, including Ron Power, a renowned gunsmith and owner of Grand Masters L.L.C. Power spoke of the topic of "Responsible, Professional Gunsmith Opportunities."

Over 150 gunsmithing school students and experience gunsmiths attended the event on April 15th and 16th, as well as 40 industry employers. Attendees were able to interview with these employers and gain the knowledge and contacts to advance their careers in the firearms industry.

"The Gunsmith Career Fair is growing into a must-attend for individuals interested in gunsmithing and improving their careers," said Brownell's President and NRA Board of Directors Member Pete Brownell in a press release.

The next event will be held in April of 2012, so check for updates and information on how to attend next year's fair. For more information on NRA's Gunsmithing Schools program, contact Steve Hoback at

Everyone knows it's the people that make the party. The NRA's Annual Meetings and Exhibits are no different. Below, a sampling of the audience from this year's Annual Meeting, held May 14-16 in Charlotte, NC: 

Eddie Eagle at the NRA Annual Meetings in Charlotte on NRAblog The 2010 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits drew 72,000 NRA members from across this great nation -- and across the spectrum of ages and interests, too. One of the more popular stops for families is the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program booth, where Eddie Eagle himself poses for photos with interested kids, as pictured at left.

"We handed out a lot of materials, and met with a lot of potential volunteers," Program Manager Eric Lipp told NRAblog. "This is one of our opportunities to meet and mix with people who are benefitting from the program, volunteers who are promoting the program, and NRA members yet to learn Eddie's life saving message."

Another popular booth centered on the NRA's Gunsmithing school program. NRAblog has reported on Gunsmithing Instructor Speedy Gonzalez's Speedy Gonzalez of Trinidad State Junior College gunsmithing programquest to create master gunsmiths at Trinidad State Junior College. Gonzalez was joined by other programs.

Pictured at right, several colleges line up on the Exhibit Hall floor to provide information about their respective gunsmithing programs. To find out about a gunsmithing program near you, check out their website at

Earlier in the meeting, NRAblog met some dedicated students from the North Carolina-based Montgomery Community College program at Thursday's National Foundation banquet. The night, filled with promise, prizes, and patriotism, featured a custom made rifle they donated to the NRA Foundation.

Montgomery Community College's Gunsmithing Program is in booth #3505 here at the NRA's 139th Annual Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. NRAblog happened to run into a few of their representatives at the Thursday night at the NRA Foundation's National Banquet.

The students and instructors combined their efforts to design and build the custom rifle pictured above. Wayne Bernauer, the NRA Gunsmithing School Coordinator at the College, above left, poses with the rifle and students Nathan Talley, center, and Mike Acosta, right.

All the supplies were donated to the College's Gunsmithing Program, so when the Program donated the finished firearm to the NRA Foundation, all it cost them was their time. Why sacrifice valuable classroom time to such a task? "Because the NRA cares about us, and they support everything we do," Talley, also pictured at right displaying the custom engraving, told us. Talley recently graduated from the program, and he will soon be employed as a fulltime gunsmith. 

The College's program also supports Friends of NRA events in North Carolina. Stop by booth #3505 if you're here in Charlotte and thank these folks for their dedication to the NRA – and bring your gunsmithing questions! "These partners to the NRA's Education and Training gunsmithing schools bring so much knowledge to the table," Steve Hoback told NRAblog.

Remember Speedy Gonzalez? (Of course you do!)

The world-renowned gunsmith and Trinidad State Junior College instructor took our request for news seriously, and we're glad he did. One of his students, Eron Ahmer, wrote the following piece. Pictured below, from left to right: Ahmer, Gonzalez, NRA President Schmeits, and retired Trinidad State Jr. College Ruth Ann Woods.

We think the article is worth a read:

Eron Ahmer, Speedy Gonzalez, NRA President Schmeits, and retired Trinidad State Jr. College Ruth Ann Woods

A Rifle for the President

This story starts in the summer of 2005. Actually, it starts many years before when I was first introduced to guns and shooting at an early age. This is where my interest and eventual passion for firearms began. Since I don't want to write a novel here, at least not a really long one, I'll start in July, 2005.

A couple of weeks before heading to my fifth Black Powder Cartridge Nationals at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico, an information packet arrived in the mail from Trinidad State Jr. College. TSJC is in Trinidad, Colorado and is home of the oldest Gunsmithing program in the country. With some gentle prodding, I discover that my wife, Pam is responsible for having the information sent. Suddenly I realize that talking her into coming to New Mexico after the Nationals a couple of years ago was one of the rare smart things I've done in my life! When the shooting is over, we drive over the pass to Trinidad and tour the school. I'm hooked. For the next several months we gnash our teeth and anguish over how we can make this happen or whether we should at all. Early in 2006, I quit my job of 20 plus years, spend the next 6 months getting our house of 18 years ready to sell, and after a week on the market the house is now someone else's dream.

In the fall of 2006, we put ¾ of our lives in a storage unit and pack the rest in a trailer, a pick-up truck, and a small car and along with our dog, we leave Illinois and head for Colorado. I start the two year Gunsmithing program in the spring semester of 2007. Although it seemed like it at the time, it is probably not just a coincidence that a new instructor started at the same time.


Speedy Gonzalez of Trinidad State Junior College Speedy Gonzalez wears a lot of hats. He stays busy during the school year as a Gunsmithing Instructor at Trinidad State Junior College.

In the summer, he serves as coordinator for the NRA's Gunsmithing courses. He's a top-notch gunsmith with more than 25 years of experience, but he doesn't just fix guns. Gonzalez, pictured at right with some of his awards, is a member of the U.S. Benchrest Hall of Fame and the only National Bench Rest Shooters Association member to win national championships in both Varmint and Hunter Class competitions.

He took a moment  to send NRAblog some details on his school's gunsmithing program, which we initially reported after meeting TSJC Professors Nolan and Gipson at SHOT Show. The program is supported by Brownells, longtime friend to NRA. Read NRAblog's article  here.

"The grand opening (of the new program) is less than a month away," Gonzalez told NRAblog. "We're pleased to have the President of the NRA attending, along with Mr. Brownell and the governor of Colorado."

But this special third year isn't available to just anyone -- "This program is open to the top 25 percent of graduates from all gunsmithing schools in the nation." Read on for more information, and stay tuned to NRAblog!

Third Year Gunsmithing Program Opens Doors

Throughout the ensuing 62 years, TSJC has built a world-wide reputation for the excellence of its program. Companies involved in the firearms industry have supported the program with many generous donations and have been quick to hire TSJC’s accomplished gunsmithing graduates.

“Once again,” said Lopez, “Trinidad State is taking the lead in developing a program to meet the needs of industry when ‘Brownells Trinidad American Firearms Technology Institute’ opens its doors at Broom and Nevada Streets in TSJC’s Banta building on January 18th.”

“The goal of the third- year gunsmithing program is to prepare its graduates to be ready for employment directly out of school,” said Lopez. “The world of work requires students to be more prepared than ever before. In a global marketplace it is our moral imperative to prepare our students for the workplace.” More

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