NRA Summer Series at Trinidad State not just for Gunsmiths

1.Taught by world-renowned scrimshander, writer and artist Jim Stevens, students create scrimshaw art as part of the NRA Summer Gunsmithing Series at Trinidad State. Scrimshaw class is scheduled for June 23 – 27, 2014.

1. Taught by world-renowned scrimshander, writer and artist Jim Stevens, students create scrimshaw art as part of the NRA Summer Gunsmithing Series at Trinidad State. Scrimshaw class is scheduled for June 23 – 27, 2014.

(TRINIDAD, COLORADO) Trinidad State recently announced the lineup of NRA summer classes for 2014. Trinidad State’s NRA Summer Series offers more than 40 courses over nine weeks from May through July of 2014 in Trinidad Colorado.

The scheduled courses meet a wide variety of interests and skill levels, including gunsmithing, arts-related and cowboy-themed classes. The gunsmithing courses cover specific guns, such as 1911, M1 service rifles and Glock brand firearms; machining; welding for gunsmiths; reloading and stock making; among several other topics. Arts-related classes include basic drawing, hand engraving, watercolor landscape painting, vintage metal finishing and scrimshaw – an ancient art form of inlaying decorative designs into ivory and other materials. The cowboy-themed courses vary from cowboy pump guns to leather-holster making to spur making. The full list of classes is posted online at

Classes range in length from one day to two weeks, and are available to anyone interested in the topics offered, whether a novice, current student or professional. Last summer’s program brought more than 160 participants—including a retired surgeon, veterans, teenagers with their fathers, artists and prospective students considering the two-year gunsmithing program—from all over the nation, and even Canada, to Trinidad and Trinidad State Junior College. Many students return year after year to learn new skills.

“The things that I learned can be used for many different things,” said Laura Hansen, who has taken engraving, leather holster making and knife making in past NRA classes. A leatherworker and Trinidad resident, Hansen hopes to eventually make engraved belt buckles to complement the leather belts she makes, and repair guns from her shop at home. Hansen became interested in the NRA summer classes after taking classes as part of the gunsmithing two-year degree program. “The NRA program is built for adults,” she said of the difference between regular gunsmithing classes and the NRA program. “This is adult education focused on one specific action you want to learn.”

As an outcome of taking these classes, Hansen said, “It pushed me toward learning how to shoot and heightened the whole interest of learning.” In the future, Hansen wants to build upon her skills and take stock making, machine shop and specific repair classes through the NRA Summer Series.

To those considering taking an NRA class, Hansen advises, “Things that you learn as splinter skills are very transferrable to other things you might want to pursue.” As examples, she mentioned that learning soldering could be translated to jewelry making, learning stock making could allow someone to use those same principles for carving furniture, and learning CNC machining could be a valuable skill to land a manufacturing job.

Just one of five NRA-affiliated schools in the U.S., Trinidad State NRA Coordinator Donna Haddow said people come from as far as New York, Pennsylania and Montana “because of our reputation.”

Featuring guest instructors and Trinidad State’s top-notch gunsmithing faculty, all of the instructors are experts in their respective fields and many are members of the prestigious American Custom Gunmakers Guild. Some of the instructors highlighted for the upcoming series include John Holliger, owner of White Oak Arms, scheduled to teach the AR-15 class; Bill Laughridge, owner of Cylinder & Slide, who will be teaching a one-day 1911 class and the popular week-long “Accurizing the 1911 Pistol” course, which is already filled for 2014; and Rich Machholz, ballistic technician at Sierra Bullets, the instructor for reloading.

Participants can take classes as continuing education for $375 for a five-day course, or for credit toward the Gunsmithing Technician Certificate. Prices vary for classes taken for credit; however, scholarships, financial aid and GI Bill funding can be applied toward tuition. Trinidad State also provides room and board for NRA students at a rate of $100 per week for a room and $55 for 10 meals in the cafeteria. Married housing is available at $130 per week.

Many of the courses fill up fast. To register, contact Donna Haddow, NRA coordinator, at (719) 846-5541 or

“These people come and some of them stay in the residence halls, but a lot of them stay in campgrounds and hotels and a lot of them bring their families with them, so they’re shopping and eating in the restaurants,” Haddow said of the impact of this program in the local community. “They’re just like having a tourist here, only for a week or a few weeks at a time.”

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