Craft Gunmaking, No compromises, No corners cut, EVER

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Training vs. Education

 In the gun world, much stock is put into being "English-trained" by both those that practice gunsmithing and by those who employ the services of a gunsmith.  I've often been asked "where I trained" or, "who I apprenticed under". The answer to both is the same:  No one.  I, much like my beloved dogs, am not "trained" at all, nor would I have wished to be so.  I am self-educated* in all things that interest me, including gunmaking.  

Training and education are not the same thing, regardless of the fact that many use the terms interchangeably.  Training to do a task is to learn a sequence of steps necessary in order to complete that particular task in a prescribed manner (which may, or may not, be the best way to accomplish the task).  Almost anyone can be trained to do almost any one thing, as the military has proven for decades.  Let us take an example from the English gun trade, the barrel maker.  This individual is trained in the steps necessary to take a pair of tubes, a blank for the forend lug and some rib stock and turn this collection of material into a rough assembly, ready for the actioner to take and make into a jointed action.  After the gun is finished, the barrel maker may, or may not, see that set of barrels again for choking, chambering or whatever else, depending upon the particular manufacturer's protocol.  He would train his apprentice to do the job in the same way he was taught as an apprentice.  He was not educated in other aspects of gunmaking because there was no need for him to be, since the company had trained individuals for each aspect of making the gun.  The truth is that, at least in the English trade, the only person who understood more than one aspect of gunmaking was most likely the finisher, because it is this individual that has to take everyone else's work and make it all function as a whole.   As an aside, I believe that this is the reason that the British, in their inimitable arrogance, believe that no one person can make the entire gun.

 Being "trained" is to be conditioned to think "inside the box".  To learn how but not necessarily why.  To do as you're told (trained) to do.  Sit, speak, roll over.  There is no room for imagination or improvisation, nor is there any need, because there is no perceived need to comprehend the work in any greater context. 

 "Do it this way because this is the way it's done."  Why (assuming the critical thinking skills to even ask)?  "Because that's the way it's always been done."  

Being educated is precisely to understand the greater context, to gain broader knowledge, to understand the "why" and let that drive the "how".  In gunmaking, it is to understand the entire gun as the system that it actually is.  It is to not only understand the function but also the materials used in each and every part.  

It is this very lack of understanding that is at the root of the widespread incompetence in this industry.

Training discourages furthering one's knowledge, understanding and abilities.  It is also finite, once you're trained, that's it.  Education encourages furthering all of those areas and it goes on for life.


 *Given the choice between credentials and competence, I'll take competence every time.

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