Brownells Gunsmithing Scholarships At MCC

Brownells just awarded scholarships to three 2nd-year gunsmithing students at Montgomery Community College in Troy, NC. The school has an excellent gunsmithing program and has been the recipient of a good deal of support from Brownells and other companies because of that. As I said after touring the department last year, it is a first-class gunsmithing program.

From their press release:

Grinnell, Iowa (September 11, 2023) –Brownells proudly announces the exceptional recipients of the Brownells Gunsmithing Scholarship awarded at Montgomery Community College.

Three outstanding recipients, Joseph Hampton, Dalton Miller and Alex Rosales are being recognized for their outstanding dedication to the gunsmithing trade. This scholarship highlights their exceptional skills and commitment to the gunsmithing craft.

All three of these students are beginning their 2nd year in gunsmithing at Montgomery Community College and will be entering the working world of gunsmithing in the summer of 2024.

Pete Brownells, CEO of Brownells, “Brownells is dedicated to improving gunsmithing skills and the success of gunsmiths. Congratulations to Joseph, Dalton, and Alex for their commitment and dedication to one of America’s most crucial trades.”

I would likewise congratulate these three for winning these scholarships along with thanking Brownells for their support of the MCC program.

As some may be aware, I am proud alumnus of MCC where I earned a degree in Hunting and Shooting Sports Management. It is how I spent my extra time during the pandemic as I wasn’t allowed to meet clients face to face. It was time well spent and I learned a great deal.

Firearms Business Conference – Zero Tolerance Inspections

I wrote last week that Montgomery Community College was holding a Firearm Business Conference. I had planned to attend virtually using Zoom. Due to some technical difficulties, I wasn’t able to catch everything. However, all sessions were recorded and now are up on YouTube.

One session that really caught my eye was on the zero tolerance inspection policy demanded by the Biden Administration. It was taught by Judy Ladeaux of NSSF. Prior to joining NSSF, she was the Director of Industry Operations in the ATF’s Columbus Field Division.

One interesting topic that came up around the 10 minute mark of the video below was where a state-issued CCW permit substitutes for a NICS check. As she made clear, a purchaser may still be in possession of a revoked CCW permit while being a prohibited person. That can very well be caught during the compliance inspection. While it will not be considered “willful” and result in a revocation of your FFL, it will still be a black mark. She said she had suggested to many FFLs while still with ATF that they could require a NICS check on all sales regardless of a CCW.

Listening to her you really get a feeling for just how nit-picky that Industry Operations Inspectors have been forced to become. While the goal is to make every firearm traceable – including your Polymer 80 type frames – the absurdity of it is that it only goes to the original purchaser in most cases. Firearms can change hands privately in most states without another background check. There is nothing requiring the seller to even get the buyer’s name, address, etc. Now I think you and I might think that would be a good idea to cover our asses but it usually isn’t required unless you live in an Un-Free State.

The last 10 minutes of the session are spent on the things that will get your FFL yanked by ATF and especially the “five deadly sins”.

For those of us who are not dealers, this is good background information. For those that hold a FFL, I would study this video and watch it multiple times. It could be that your livelihood depends upon it.

Firearms Business Conference – Feb 17th

Montgomery Community College in Troy, North Carolina will be hosting a Firearms Business Conference on February 17th. You can attend either in person or virtually. They will be having an Open House on February 18th. I attended the conference last year and found it quite worthwhile.

Here is the list of conference sessions. All are FREE to attend and participate in.

Conference Sessions
Concurrent Session A1 (9:00 AM – 10:00 AM):Legal Business Entities Understanding the difference between the various ways that your business can be established. Does a sole proprietorship, LLC, an S-Corp, or a Corporation make the most sense for the type of business that you plan to run?Speaker: Alicia Herrin
Concurrent Session A2 (9:00 AM – 10:00 AM):Doing Business in a Hostile Environment The firearms industry is experiencing an unprecedented amount of resistance from both government agencies and from the business community. As a small business person, how do you successfully navigate the difficulties posed by regulations, shippers, banking institutions, lawsuits, and a general disdain from large segments of the public?Speaker: Steve Adelman
Concurrent Session A3 (9:00 AM – 10:00 AM):Inventory Management Understanding how to manage retail space and how to stock inventory that will sell is a key component to succeeding in a retail business. Learn tips for success in offering the right products to maximize your inventory investment dollars from a representative from one of the largest firearms distributors. Speaker: Davidson’s
Concurrent Session B1 (10:00 AM -11:00 AM):Managing Cash Flow The success or failure of a business often has nothing to do with the product of service that the business offers. Basic business issues like how well cash flow is managed can make or break a small business. Speaker: Alicia Herrin
Concurrent Session B2 (10:00 AM – 11:00 AM):Gunsmithing vs. Manufacturing The current BATF regulations regarding what constitutes gunsmithing and what crosses the line into the field of manufacturing is often misunderstood. Understanding current regulations are key to having the correct licensure and staying on the right side of legal questions. Speaker: Steve Albro
Concurrent Session C1 (11:15 AM – 12:15 PM):Physical Security for a Firearms Business Preventing break-in and theft is a topic that generates a lot of apprehension for the small business owner in the firearms industry. Knowing the correct security measures to help keep your business safe is key to peace of mind and business success. Speaker: Bill Napier
Concurrent Session C2 (11:15 AM – 12:15 PM):Interacting with Distributors Building good working relationships with firearms distributors is essential to successful operation of a firearms retail business. An industry insider who works for one of the largest firearms distributors in the country will outline the best strategies and practices for managing these contacts. Speakers: Shawn McGuire
Concurrent Session D1 (1:00 PM – 2:00 PM):Obtaining and Maintaining Your FFL This speaker will outline the steps necessary to navigate the paperwork and record keeping necessary to apply for and operate a Federal Firearms License. Speaker: Steve Albro
Concurrent Session D2 (1:00 PM – 2:00 PM):Marketing to Customers in the Outdoor Space In the digital age, marketing your firearms business to hunters, fishermen, and other outdoorsmen is not as easy as putting up a sign. Learn strategies for attracting these customers from a seasoned pro with many years of experience in media and digital marketing for this segment of the firearms industry.Speaker: Chris Douglas
Concurrent Session E1 (2:00 PM – 3:00 PM):Understanding the BATF’s Zero Tolerance Policy The current administration has implemented a very stringent process for inspections and audits of FFL holders. This has resulted in a far greater number of license revocations that has previously been seen. A former BATF agent will go through this policy and provide information and tips about how to avoid becoming one of these statistics.  Speaker: Judy Ladeux
Concurrent Session E2 (2:00 PM – 3:00 PM):Concealed Carry Insurance Insuring concealed carry holders against the legal ramifications of being involved in a self-defense shooting is both a prudent step and a potential source of revenue for a firearms retailer or shooting instructor. Learn the benefits of this type of insurance from an attorney with experience in this branch of law and a representative of a company that offers this product.Speaker: Lori Olmstead/US Lawshield

If I remember correctly from last year, Steve Albro, who will be leading the sessions on “Gunsmithing vs Manufacturing” and on “Obtaining and Maintaining Your FFL”, is the Director of Industry Operations in the BATFE Charlotte Field Division.

To register for any of these sessions, go here. You can also register through the NC Small Business Center website.

I am a proud alumnus of Montgomery Community College and earned my Associate in Applied Science degree in Hunting and Shooting Sports Management from there in 2022. I like to say that it is what kept my mind busy during the pandemic.

MCC is a very pro-gun school with a great gunsmithing program as well as the H&SSM program. This is the fourth or fifth year that they have put on this Firearms Business Conference. They also put on the short-term NRA gunsmithing classes. As an example of how the school supports these programs, the president of the college was in their booth at the 2022 NRA Annual Meeting.

Beretta USA Steps Up

Beretta USA just made a substantial donation of firearms to the Gunsmithing Program at Montgomery Community College. As I am now a graduate of MCC (in Hunting and Shooting Sports Management), I am happy to see that Beretta USA is supporting my latest alma mater. As I wrote earlier, the Gunsmithing Program is top notch and has quite the assortment of equipment.

In the announcing the donation this week, which the release below notes, while some of the 363 firearms were purchased, the bulk were donated.

The Montgomery Community College Gunsmithing Program recently received 363 rifles from Beretta USA. A portion were purchased, but the bulk of the rifles were donated. MCC students will use these Tikka T3 Stainless Lite rifles in their re-barreling and refinishing classes.

“We are grateful to Beretta USA for these rifles,” said Gunsmithing Program Director Mark Dye. “It is because of this manufacturing partnership and others like it, that our students have access to exceptional firearms on which to practice new skills and techniques.”

MCC’s Gunsmithing curriculum ranges from basic diagnostics and repair to true custom builds. Students gain valuable experience in areas as varied as machining, tooling and blueprinting, metal finishing, repair, and stock work. These Beretta rifles give students high quality, current firearms on which to practice and experiment.

More than two-thirds of a student’s class time is spent in various MCC shops, bringing theory to a practical application in a hands-on setting. Valuable early machining exercises lay the groundwork for gunsmithing skills used later when working on firearms. Notable student projects include three custom rifle builds and a custom 1911 handgun.

MCC’s Gunsmithing program is fortunate to have forged many important and lasting connections with companies and individuals in the firearms industry, including Beretta USA. These long-held affiliations are one factor that sets the program apart from others. Industry partners support our students in a number of ways. Some offer substantial discounts to students on products that they will need during their education, some offer financial or material support to the program, scholarship donations, offer supplemental classes or educational opportunities, while others are interested in employing graduates of the MCC Gunsmithing program.

Other companies or organizations helping to support the program include Brownells, Midway USA, and the NRA Foundation.

From earlier conversations with Mark Dye, MCC is supposed to have a booth at the NRA Annual Meeting in Houston next weekend. They will be promoting both the full program and the NRA gunsmithing short courses.

A First-Class Gunsmithing Program

A couple of weeks ago I got to tour the workshops and classrooms of the gunsmithing program at Montgomery Community College in Troy, North Carolina. To say I was impressed by the facilities is an understatement.

I was given the tour by Len Fagan who is one of the instructors. He also teaches most of the Hunting and Shooting Sports Management classes. Prior to coming to MCC, Len was the lead gunsmith for Alexander Arms as well as was the owner of Old Lodge Armory in Willis, VA.

The first room I saw had both milling machines and metal lathes.

Adjacent to this workshop were both a couple of classrooms as well as another workshop with both milling machines and lathes. The classrooms are not your average classroom with desks. Rather, they have six to ten heavy duty worktables with one to two bench vises attached on each. Companies such as MidwayUSA and Brownells have been very supportive of this program.

From Facebook

Mark Dye is the head of the program. Like Len, he is a graduate of the program himself. He also was a gunsmith with both Clark Guns in Louisiana and Bowen Classic Arms in Tennessee before going out on his own. In addition, he is the inventor of the Drop-In Trigger System for 1911s being marketed by Nighthawk Customs. It is essentially a drop-in trigger job.

Moving on, the equipment available for students includes:

  • 28 lathes
  • 13 Bridgeport type milling machines
  • 2 precision surface grinders
  • 1 CNC milling center
  • 3 commercial spray booths for Cerakote
  • Arms room with 350+ firearms for classroom examples and training aids
  • A myriad of bench and belt grinding equipment
  • Welding equipment 
  • Heat treating furnace
  • Hot bluing tanks

The MidwayUSA Arms Room has a wide assortment of firearms with which students can tinker.

If you work on firearms then you need a place to test them. They have two 100-yard ranges on campus which they share with the law enforcement program.

In addition to the regular degree and certificate program, they are one of four schools certified to offer NRA short-term gunsmithing classes and the only one east of the Mississippi. These classes range from an AR-15 armorer’s class up to building your own custom 1911 from a kit. They also will have classes on knife making, shooting, reloading, and finishing. I could easily see myself taking one or more of these classes.

Carolina All Out is a regional TV outdoor program available on cable in the Carolina as well as YouTube. They featured two episodes on the gunsmithing program at Montgomery Community College. The first featured rebarreling a Remington 700 and the second featured taking the rifle’s accuracy to the next stage by bedding and load development. Seen together, you get a good feel for the facilities and the expertise of instructors such as Len Fagan and Mark Dye.

If you are interested in learning more about gunsmithing as either a career or just because you want to tinker on your own firearms, I can recommend Montgomery Community College. In the interest of full disclosure, I will be graduating in less than two weeks from their Hunting and Shooting Sports Management program making me an alumnus of MCC. Nonetheless, I think they are one of the premier gunsmithing programs in the nation.

Went To Troy; Saw This Guy

I had to be at Montgomery Community College in Troy, North Carolina this afternoon. I am getting my Associates in Applied Science from there in Hunting and Shooting Sports Management. Graduation is next month and I needed to pick up my cap and gown. In addition, I wanted to meet a couple of the instructors in that program and in their well-regarded gunsmithing program.

The head of the gunsmithing program, Mark Dye, was delayed because he and the college president were giving a tour of their workshops and other facilities to a visiting “dignitary”. I happened to see the dignitary and thought he looked familiar.

From the Richmond County Daily Journal

He should!

It was Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) who is the front runner in the GOP primary for the US Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC).

Budd, who owns a gun shop and range, has the recommendation of the GRNC-PVF as well as the endorsement of Donald Trump and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R-NC). I thought it was appropriate that the one area of the college that he wanted to visit was the gunsmithing workshops and classrooms. He may have visited other areas but this is where he was spending a good deal of time.

NRA Foundation Helps North Carolina Students

Catching up on emails that arrived while I was out of town, I came across this one from the NRA. It discusses the substantial donations made by the NRA Foundation to Montgomery Community College to fund scholarships for gunsmithing students.

NRA Foundation Funds Montgomery Community College Scholarships

TROY, N.C. – Nearly $100,000 in NRA Foundation grants have funded Montgomery Community College scholarships for its gunsmithing program since 1994. These merit-based scholarships help spur high academic achievement and pristine attendance records while providing students with the freedom and flexibility to undertake notably challenging projects.

Throughout their time in MCC’s gunsmithing program, students develop skills tooling and blueprinting, metal finishing, firearm diagnostics and repair, and custom firearms manufacturing. More than two-thirds of class time is spent hands-on in the college’s 5,400 square feet of shop workspace.

“Friends of NRA and the NRA Foundation are both great proponents of Montgomery Community College’s gunsmithing program,” said Mark Dye, gunsmithing program director at Montgomery Community College. “In their biggest show of support yet, the NRA Foundation granted us funds to award 12 gunsmithing scholarships this year. We are truly grateful for the NRA’s unwavering commitment to our focus on this great American tradition.”

Both the East and West Friends of NRA State Fund Committees in North Carolina award grants to the program each year. In 2014, nearly half of all scholarships awarded to MCC gunsmithing students came from The NRA Foundation.

I am especially gratified by these donations as my family connections to Montgomery County go back to before the Civil War. My father was born in Troy and I still have cousins living there.

If you need a tax deduction for 2015, a donation to the NRA Foundation is tax deductible. You have until midnight tomorrow to make one if you use a credit card.