More than 400 attendees and 50 exhibitors filled the Des Moines, Iowa, Downtown Marriott, March 27-28, 2013, for the Brownells 7th Annual Gunsmith Conference & Career Fair.

Doubling last year’s turnout, this year’s event drew 155 gunsmithing students from seven of the country’s premier gunsmithing schools. In addition to the students, the record crowd consisted of working gunsmiths and gun shop owners seeking networking opportunities. Additionally, legendary names like Joe Balickie, Ron Power, Sharon Dressel, Stan Chen, Jason Hornady, Jerry Fisher, Roy Huntington, and Frank Brownell presented industry-focused seminars aimed at improving gunsmith’s skills at the bench and in business.

Brownells’ CEO Pete Brownell spoke with attendees about the importance of networking with fellow gunsmiths and honing their individual crafts. He also reminded the audience of the need for qualified gunsmiths, not only for their skills, but as representatives and guardians of the Second Amendment.

Organizations including Hornady Manufacturing, JP Enterprises, Coonan Inc., Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Taurus, Cylinder & Slide, Turnbull Manufacturing, the NRA and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, plus dozens more were on hand to show off their products and to educate attendees. Many of the companies and organizations had job openings available and conducted on-site interviews.

Steven Durren, Head Gunsmith at Johnson Sporting Goods, located in Adrian, Michigan, came to the Conference and Career Fair looking to hire a general gunsmith. Impressed with the quality of job seekers in attendance, Durren added, “I knew all the schools would be here with a lot of candidates. I’m seeing some very qualified people bringing some great skills with them. I have several I’m very interested in hiring.”

Wabash Valley Community College gunsmithing student Lucas Webster was also enthusiastic about the event. “Amazing,” said Webster. “The amount of people here and the bigger names all together going over everything is impressive. A company from Florida wants me to interview with them.”

A number of students were presented with sponsor-funded scholarships to assist with educational expenses, plus more than 50 raffle items were given away.

The 8th Annual Brownells Gunsmith Conference & Career Fair is scheduled for April 1-2, 2014, and will again take place at the Des Moines, Iowa, Downtown Marriott.

Stay tuned to the GCCF official website for further details and registration information.

Image courtesy Brownells

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