In 1991, after a long fascination with all things mechanical and a couple of truncated career paths,  I made the decision to attend the gunsmithing program at Colorado School of Trades in Lakewood, CO.   After attending the night program for a couple of months while still working my day job, I realized I was missing access to the day time instructors and all of their knowledge and experience.  Quitting my day job solved this problem, and I then attended CST 12 hours a day, studying under all the instructors and trying to soak up everything the teaching staff could show me.

Bob Carlton, Dave Caboth, Dave McClain, Gary Schlomer, and the Legendary Eldon Adams were my instructors, and by the time I graduated I tried to make sure I knew everything they knew about gunsmithing. Impossible, of course, but that was my goal while at CST.   J. Earl Bridges was a former instructor and  frequent visitor, as was "Doc" Kreckel.  Former student and instructor Jerry Fisher, among other famous graduates, were well known and frequently talked about by the staff.  It was a good time to go through the program.

Since graduating in the spring of 1992 I've worked as a gunsmith in Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, Georgia, and Florida, learning and gaining more experience along the way.  If variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes, then gunsmithing has to be one of the greatest professions a person can have.  After my 22 years in the trade, customers still bring in pieces I've never seen before.  It makes my job very interesting.

I call myself a Master Gunsmith based on my knowledge and experience, and the commitment I made in 1991 to never stop learning this trade- not because I zipped through a bunch of DVDs or online courses labeled "Master Course".  Consider that when looking for an experienced craftsman to work on your treasured firearms. 

Jerry R Kelley

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