EEF announced as training partner

The Gunsmith Academy will be supported by EEF, one of the largest engineering training organisations in the UK.

Any Apprentice joining the Academy will be expected to do an initial 6 month training programme at the EEF training facility in Aston. The training delivered at EEF will cover all basic machinery (Lathes, Milling, Grinding, Bench Drills, Polishers) and more advanced items such as CAD (Computer Aided Design) and CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines. Only when this training is complete will the Apprentice have the chance to apply the newly gained engineering skills to firearms.

The facilities of EEF are cutting edge and the skills they deliver are to the highest standards. They currently train most of the Jaguar Landrover apprentices and manage the HS2 rail engineering school.





Apprenticeship standard, consultation

The trailblazer group have now completed working on the Apprenticeship standard for Gunsmith. As such we’d like to hear from people in the trade in a professional context and ask for your input and critique on the content. Have we missed anything?

In addition to this, further members of the trailblazer group are welcomed both small and large. In particular anyone in the trade who wishes to take on an Apprentice through the forthcoming Birmingham Gunsmith Academy.

You can view the standard in .pdf format by clicking the link Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard for a Gunsmith

Feedback can either be posted as a comment on this website or by emailing Steve Horton Feedback is requested by 27th February 12 noon.

Logo creation

The first ever Gunsmith Academy in the UK receives it’s identity. We hope you like the new logo.

Gunsmith apprentices uk


Apprenticeship standard receives support of IET

It is with great pleasure that I announce the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology) are supporting and assisting with development of the Gunsmith apprenticeship standard.

So who are IET? They are the worlds largest institution for professional engineers. Being a member of the IET allows a wide range of engineers to continue professional development throughout their career.

So what does this mean? The IET have looked at the draft apprenticeship standard and agreed that it meets level 3 competency which is the same level of competency for example as an aircraft engineering technician amongst others. It means that any apprentice completing the standard will be able to gain professional membership of IET and display the logo as officially accredited member. It also allows any apprentice to access a variety of further educational routes.

Now in isolation this means very little to most, however you must remember that ‘Gunsmiths’ in the UK have never been viewed as a professional outside of our rather insular sector. By aligning the apprenticeship standard in such a way it gives credibility outside of our sector and will only serve to strengthen our trade for years to come.

The standard is not being written to preclude those competent smiths in our trade already, it is our desire to include those in the sector already and assist them with professional development for the long term. Once the standard is published any competent smith can opt to go through the assessment route and top up training where they specifically lack experience. Yes there will be a cost although this will be the lowest it can be and also not time dependant.

If you question the logic behind promoting standardised training, cast your eye to the continent and the various gunsmithing schools. Whilst our trade has declined, the equivalent trades in Italy, Belgium, France and Austria have become real respective national assets. I read a report the other day, showing Italian export revenues for small arms exceed $750m every year, it is no wonder the trade in Italy receives so much assistance from its respective government. The UK trade were once a global player but a catalogue of events have pushed the UK gun trade into a corner. If something is not done now, we will lose what little we have.

It is my belief that with the right support and investment in young people, the UK gun trade can once again flourish and be at the forefront of a global trade. Maybe not in volume, but definitely in quality and innovation. The UK exports knowledge in various other sectors (Architecture, Education, Engineering et al) around the world, could the UK gun trade do the same?

Both Birmingham and London gun trades were the epicentre of all things firearm in the world for the best part of 100 years. You can see this in the number of patents created which number far more than I wish to count, this all but came to an end at the outbreak of the Great War of 1914 and it has never recovered.

The lack of support from banks, government and other facets of the UK have not helped, this for me can be put down to perception of the dreaded three letter word ‘gun’. Anyone who shoots or is in the trade will have experienced this first hand. When you tell someone what you do, it is often met with ‘that’s illegal, you’re cruel, what you sell sawn offs’ and all manner of ill educated responses. Whereas on the continent, it is widely viewed as a normal pastime and profession which is no more elaborate than golf etc.

If you are involved in the gun trade and wish to pledge support in anyway, please get in touch ( The Academy and the gunsmith apprenticeship standard is being set-up to benefit the trade and our sport shooting disciplines, it requires your help and support. Just sharing this post on social media will help promote it.

IET support


The Gunsmith Academy moves forward

The Gunsmith Academy now has official approval to move through to the next stage of developing the fully accredited Gunsmith apprenticeship standard. If you’d like to understand why this is crucial, see the Gunsmith apprenticeship standard post on the blog.

On the 30th January a variety of businesses within the sector meet with the depart of education representative to jointly present the standard and seek final approval. This approval will unlock a wide range of funding options that allow the Academy to be formed.

The meeting is being held at Birmingham Gun proof which physically hasn’t changed since the film below. However the Birmingham Gun Proof also understand the need for standards across the board, having recently been given ISO 17025 accreditation for its laboratory. 


John Rigby & Co pledge support for the Gunsmith Academy

Steven Horton (MD of W Horton & Sons) who is leading the initiative on the Birmingham Gunsmith Academy met with Marc Newton (MD of John Rigby & Co) at the Rigby premises in London.

Marc was very keen to understand the plans behind academy and what the gunsmith standard will produce. The John Rigby & Co business has benefited hugely from the structured training provided by a variety of gunsmithing schools on the continent. So naturally Marc is very keen to get involved with the new Academy initiative at its inception.

By getting involved at this early stage means that John Rigby & Co have an input into the department of education standard for ‘Gunsmith’.

Marc commented ‘this is a fantastic initiative that is very long overdue in the UK, it is great to be on board’.

If you are a gunmaker in the UK, now is the time to get involved and help set the standard. There can only ever be one apprenticeship standard accredited by the UK Government. 


Gun Proof Tour

Did you know you can book yourself on a tour of the Birmingham Proof House? The Proof house was designed by John Horton and built by a group of Birmingham Gunmakers in 1813, one of only two gun proof houses in the UK.  It is restricted to a group size of c10 and the cost is £150 per group (with biscuits included). Contact the proof house direct if you’d like to book on a tour. Click here


Latest News from the Quarter

The new website is coming along nicely. We’ll be adding a list and photos of all the residents (Gunmakers/smiths & the pubs of course). We’ll also include the Proof house etc.

The other items that are moving along;

Gunsmith Academy

In discussion with South Birmingham College to create a recognised Gunsmithing course. We know that the traditional manner of serving an apprentice has been the way for years, we don’t want to deviate too much from this. However a recognised qualification under written by an accredited body such as ‘City & Guilds’, ‘BTEC’ etc will allow an educational provider to obtain grants per student per academic year from the Government.

The grants can then be diverted to semi retiring gunsmiths to teach the next generation. The students get the best of both worlds and we can select the tutors who deliver the best training. The students will also spend time doing general ‘Engineering’ and learning CNC techniques from different industries, this will bring new ideas from outside of the trade.

Once we know more, we’ll be approaching various Gun related organisations for support – yes this means dipping into cash reserves and helping out the next generation!

Exciting stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Gun trade rental incentives

With a handful of units available in the Quarter, the focus is now on bringing gun trade businesses back into the area. With units from as little as £850 per year and 12 months free rent (available to gun trade only). The area and wider Birmingham is crying out for a good Air Gun retailer.

Well that’s it for now, if you have any questions please get in touch through the website, facebook or twitter.