You have just graduated from gunsmithing school or you have just completed your gunsmithing studies, and you are now prepared to work on your chosen career. You have now decided to set up your very gunsmithing shop and you are determined to see it succeed. However, you are aware that gunsmiths these days are having difficulty because of the hard economic times and that gunsmithing in general is not the profitable trade that the public often thinks it is. But you persevere because you love your trade; you also understand that there are people who share your interest in guns and they would like to work with those who have a passion with them. So how can you succeed in your own gunsmithing business, then?
First of all, you must realize that running a gunsmithing shop on your own is just like running any other small business. Chances are that you not only handle your gunsmithing work personally but you also have to handle the different areas of your business such as invoice preparation, inventory and supply management, rentals and bill payments, employee pay (if you are lucky enough to hire skilled workers who can help you run your business), advertising and marketing, and others. If you run a family business, your family would be able to help you manage your enterprise; if you have enough finances, you can commission other people who you can trust to keep your business running smoothly.
Gunsmith shops have their share of “gun nuts” who share your interest with firearms with a passion; eventually, you can find some who are willing to lend a hand to your business. They can either do it voluntarily (for them to learn more about gunsmithing on their own) or as your own paid employees. Whether he is a just a kid who likes to tinker with guns and hangs often in your gunsmithing shop, or an older enthusiast who has retired from his job and would like to do something worthwhile in his spare time, pick someone who is knowledgeable enough about guns and who you can rely on to do some work on the side. Eventually, you might be able to have him handle work such as reworking or rechambering a .30 ’06 rifle to a .223, or have a customer’s old reliable Damascus double-barrel shotgun reamed so that it can take up 3 ½ inch-sized Magnum shells.
Second, you should concentrate on specific gunsmithing fields and focus your work on them. This means that you could either work as a gun repair expert, a customization specialist, or one who simply sells firearms and makes modifications whenever his customers request them. Many gunsmiths combine guns and gun supply retail on one hand with a firearm repair and modification section on the other. Others will specialize on a particular gunsmithing area such as rifle customization, stock engraving and woodwork, barrel improvements, bolt refinements and fine-tuning, and many others. Still other gunsmiths will choose to work only on a single firearm type such as rifles, handguns, and shotguns, although most will work on basically every type of gun imaginable. Seasoned and professional gunsmiths also teach gunsmithing classes and work with students for set fees. Others find employment in many businesses and firms including sporting goods shops, gun manufacturers, law enforcement agencies, wildlife management, and others that need a gunsmith’s knowledge in repairing and improving firearms. If work is scarce, you can work on other related careers such as machine working, welding, metallurgy, car maintenance and body work, among others. You might find yourself having a profitable career on these fields without ever having to rely on your gunsmithing business for much of your income.
This does not mean, however, that you must have to neglect your gunsmithing business altogether. Remember that you are in the business because of your love for firearms, so you must be able to show off your knowledge and skills whenever and wherever you can. Participate in gun shows and trade events where you can meet up with other gunsmiths and share ideas with them, encounter gun manufacturers and discover the latest in firearms, and encounter potential customers who you can convince to do business with you. You can also advertise your business through various media (TV, newspapers, magazines, the Internet) or you can simply let your work do the advertising for you. Being a good gunsmithing business usually means that you have your own reliable network of proven and loyal customers that you have worked with in the past and are eager to seek your services again. This means that you do consistent quality work that your customers can rely on, and they are more than willing to share with other gun owners and collectors about your gunsmithing business and the good work that you are capable of. This would help you expand on your business and reach other areas where there are no other gunsmithing businesses available to compete with you.
Running a gunsmithing business combines careful planning and management with shrewd business sense and marketing acumen. Success is never an overnight affair, and gunsmithing is a good case in point. It can be difficult at first and you might get frustrated at times, but you can eventually profit from it in the future.