Brownells Gunsmith Conference and Career Fair

Frank Brownell, chairman of the board, addresses the attendees.
Frank Brownell, chairman of the board, addresses the attendees.
Frank Brownell, Brownells’ Chairman of the Board, addressing the attendees.

Have you been considering a career as a gunsmith?  Are you a recent graduate of a trade school looking for work; or are you an established gunsmith looking to expand your business; a retailer looking for advice from some of the most successful people in the industry? Answer yes to any of these questions and the Brownells Gunsmith Conference and Career Fair is an outstanding event for you.

I was fortunate enough to attend the 8th Annual Brownells Gunsmith Conference and Career Fair. This two-day event, held in Des Moines, Iowa, provided career and technical guidance to new and established members of the trade.

At its inception seven years ago, with approximately 40 attendees and 6 exhibitors, the Gunsmith Conference and Career fair was created to provide a forum for recent trade school graduates to network and find jobs.  This year’s event dwarfed those numbers with over 400 attendees and 50 exhibitors.  The expanded opportunities for insider networking and enhancing their professional and business growth outpaced previous year’s events.  It has evolved into so much more; now,  it’s also a forum for seasoned gunsmiths and gun-related companies to pass on a wealth of  hard earned knowledge and to share stories on what works in the industry.

Attendees were provided a full two-day schedule, with presentations on business and technical aspects of the trade from the industry’s top names.  Presenters included Chen Custom’s and Asym Ammunition founder Stan Chen, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Hornady Manufacturing, Jason Hornady, Manson Precision Reamers Owner, Dave Manson, Shannon Dressel, Owner Custom Guns and Stocks, Mike Tulowitizki, Owner, M J Tulo Gunmakers, and Roy Huntington, editorial director of American Handgunner.

At the request of the past and prospective attendees, about half of the presentations were directly geared towards the business end of the trade.  This included information on marketing, retail, and most importantly, customer service.

The technical presentations were outstanding as well.  Dave Manson presented an excellent piece on head spacing and gauging chambers.  Ron Power, of Power Customs gave an overview of the Smith and Wesson Double Action Revolver, and how to enhance its accuracy.  Patrick King from Krebs Custom Gun Works, presented how to address the most common AK type rifle issues.

Presentations were well thought out and arranged.  Participants were given every opportunity to question presenters as well as speak with them privately about specific questions.

During the scheduled networking breaks, 50 vendors had booths in the exhibition hall, displaying their products and reviewing resumes of those attendees whom were either networking or seeking opportunities to advance their careers.

The generosity of the sponsors was impressive.  In addition to the vast resources provided by Brownells, the other sponsors were gracious with their support.  Krieger Barrels for instance, donated 50 figured stock blanks for a random drawing to student attendees.

The new and aspiring gunsmiths I spoke with all found the conference to be extremely helpful from both a professional development and a networking perspective.  I feel, that any member of the retail gun industry would benefit from this experience.  Who better to learn from then the titans of the industry and who better to make it all happen then Brownells.

For more information on the Brownells Gunsmith Conference and Career Fair, visit them on the web.

Attendees in the exhibition hall.