How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

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How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by AS556 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:55 am

Whether you be a gunsmith, trainer, writer, store owner, how did you get your start in the business?I truly love guns and want to make a career out of it.Where should I start?

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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by Sheriff McClelland » Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:57 am

Not much help here . It was a family thing . 26 yrs ago my uncle had grown his business enough that he needed a full time employee . His boys were not able and I was a logical choice I suppose as I already had 5 yrs in retail with some managerial/purchasing experience . His oldest owns the store now and I'm the gm/buyer . 25 employees .

Your easiest "in" will most likely be retail . If you excel and your product and people skills are superior you can possibly move to a manufacturers representative working for a private firm or maybe a factory man . I have company territory managers asking me for possible candidates somewhat regularly .

Good luck .
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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by BHP » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:18 am

I guess I got my start by knowing more than the counter staff at the shops I frequented. One day the manager followed me out into the parking lot and asked I was interested in a job. The owner of the indoor range offered me a job in much the same way. When people saw me working on my own guns they asked me to do some of the same things for them. A few years later a friend and I started a small type 07/02 FFL and it's been growing for 6 years now.

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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by Trebor » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:29 pm

What, exactly, do you want to do?

There's a lot of "gun related jobs" out there so narrowing it down a bit would help.

The easiest thing to get into is retail sales. If you want to be a really, really, good gun salesman learn more than *just* about guns. Learn about customer service and basic salesmanship. That's in additional to knowing enough about every general type of gun in the store to make recommendations. (Not every specific model, but you need to know something about defensive handguns, AR style rifles, bolt action hunting rifles, skeet and trap shotguns, BP, etc. Whatever the shop sells, you have to know SOMETHING about, even if you aren't "the shop expert" on that particular thing).

The reason getting into retail is the easiest is it's basically just getting hired into a sales job. Learn about guns, learn about retail sales, and start applying for jobs.

The bad news about retail sales is there is the hours, the pay, and the fact there isn't much upward mobility. But, if you think you might ever want to own your own gun store, it's a great training ground.

As far as gun writing goes, the best thing these days is to start your own website or Youtube channel and start doing reviews, how to's etc. There's some tough competition out there, but there's room for GOOD reviews, etc. The bad news is unless you become REALLY popular there isn't that much money in it.

As far as writing for the gun magazines, unless you are already a well known expert, or have substanial experience in some area, it's going to be near impossible to break in. The gun magazine industry is on a decline and there is less room for newbies than any time up to now.

As to being an instructor, learn more, get some NRA instructor certs, and go from there. Don't expect to make it a full time job though unless you are very lucky or unless there is some very strong demand in your area. (Like for state mandated CCW classes, etc). There are people who make a near full time living as local and regional area instructors, and plenty more who have a decent "side job" doing instruction.

Personally, if you are starting out, I'd say get a job at a local gun shop, learn a bit more about firearms and firearms sales, and also start your own website. You can look into becoming an instructor if that interests you as well. Start there and see what opportunities open up over time.
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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by Haji » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:23 pm

Seriously consider not getting into the industry. There's not much money in it.

Getting a gig in the industry is the same as getting any other job: gain skills and knowledge that make you someone the employer can't live without. Figure out what you want to do, then get the education and experience through jobs or internships to get the position you want.
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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by Brandr » Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:20 am

I wish I was currently working n the industry, just don't have the money for my own shop and equipment. I have had a love of firearms (most all weapons actually) since I was a kid. So, back about 12 years ago I went to gunsmithing school in Pennsylvania. I was a good school that gave me a lot of good knowledge and hands on training, but since a nasty divorce I just can't seem to get back up on my feet (also 12 years ago). If your interested in the firearms industry I would suggest going to an actual hands on gunsmithing school. you can learn disassembly and repair from a book, but there is nothing better than hands on experience when it come to machine tools, bluing/refinishing, stock making, and customization. I hope this helps
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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by John the Giant » Mon Apr 09, 2012 8:24 pm

I am currently learning tons at school getting my bs in manufacturing (machining), with the. Sole intention of getting into the firearms and accesories manufacturing field. Its the best feeling turning down a barrel blank and giving your 10/22 a 36" barrel.

Its a tough thing to get into and will take you years to get into. Best of luuck to anyone wanting to get into the firearms industry, it does seem to be growing amongst the general public.

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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by Vanniek71 » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:38 am

I got lucky and got fired from the job I was working for a BS reason, found a part time gig at a small but quickly growing company (Gun Store/Range/Training facility all in one) and happened to have my NRA instructors credential.

Now I help with sales, audit FFL paperwork, teach classes, and anything else they may need.

Cool thing is they are talking about a management position, and the way the company is expanding, thats a very very good thing.

In 10 years they plan on havign 10 locations, manufacturing their own AR line, and having a full production ammunition brand.

Like I said it was all luck getting in there, but I have been working my ass off to prove they should move me up, and keep me in the future plans!

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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by Jeriah » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:08 am

I am not in the firearms industry. I can only speak from secondhand observation of people I know who are.

The trainers I know generally have background in military, law enforcement, or competition. Military and Law Enforcement are things you should go into for their own sake, but if you retire or want some work on the side, training is an option. If you want to be a trainer, but aren't interested in going into the military or law enforcement, doing super baller at competition is a great way to become a trainer (as in any other sport), but note that at least from what I've seen (again, from the outside), customers tend to be more inclined to give their money to a trainer with military or law enforcement credentials. This is particularly true of "tactical" classes (carbine, etc.); CCW and basic marksmanship instruction not as much so.

Retail, I've worked, not gun sales but hardware, and one thing I learned is: 1.) you will learn a lot about the products you sell, and 2.) the job is ultimately a retail job. So, yes, I learned a lot about hardware, but it didn't make me a plumber/electrician/carpenter. I imagine gun sales is similar: if you do well, you'll be a good retail employee, but the fact that its guns you're selling is almost incidental.

Is there a particular aspect of the firearms industry you're interested in working in? Do you want to shoot, build, sell, or...?
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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by skelco » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:46 am

AK47Heaven wrote:Whether you be a gunsmith, trainer, writer, store owner, how did you get your start in the business?I truly love guns and want to make a career out of it.Where should I start?
ultimately you have to figure out where you want to be and then pay your dues and build contacts etc.

Gunsmith: You need to know your craft and build a reputation on delivering what you promise in a timely manner. You also need to have a feel for how things should work, kind of like tuning an instrument or a motorcycle. Some business sense can't hurt either,

Trainer: Are you good enough at what you do to offer your clients useful instruction? How are your people skills?

Writer: A good writer with no previous knowledge of guns can write an interesting story about them, but if you haven't honed your skills as a writer, just knowing about guns may not be enough to get you published or your blog read.

Store owner: What do you know about running a business? Learn all you can, understand the market and the laws of your state. People skills are also key here, you need to be able to handle customers and manage employees.
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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by AKFTW » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:51 am

skelco wrote:Trainer: How are your people skills?
Bahahaha.... :lol: No really, this is important, but look at some of the "successful" trainers out there who are total and complete ass clowns, and still make a ton of money *yeag-cough*
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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by skelco » Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:04 am

AKFTW wrote:
skelco wrote:Trainer: How are your people skills?
Bahahaha.... :lol: No really, this is important, but look at some of the "successful" trainers out there who are total and complete ass clowns, and still make a ton of money *yeag-cough*
Oh, I've sat through some classes taught by some toolbags, and even learned things, but who wants to deal with a dick or a boring instructor. Given the choice, I'd rather deal with teachers and instructors who are engaging, know their stuff and know how to teach it.
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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by Gingerbread Man » Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:45 am

Go into a gun store and listen to all the shit the guy behind the counter has to listen to. Then imagine being that guy.

PSA is hiring right now.
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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by nimdabew » Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:01 am

I was an extra in a movie shoot.
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Re: How did you get your start in the firearms industry?

Post by AS556 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:01 am

I guess really I would like to own a gun shop and maybe do some NRA/CCW classes on the side.I have about 4 years in customer service/retail so I think that part would come easily for me,I find selling things to be pretty natural.I don't know a whole lot about smithing, but I seem to know more than 99% of the gun shop employees I speak with.

The owner of my LGS last week had to ask me if the Glock 27 in his case was a Gen 3 or 4 to answer a customer 8-) .Shouldn't he know stuff like that?I think I'll ask if he ever needs a hand around the shop next time I'm in as he gets tons of business and runs it alone.

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