From Zero to Craftsman: Hear from CST students about their journey inside the school

We’ve shown a tour of the Colorado School of Trades as well as covered their programs. This time, I’m talking to the students to get their first-hand experiences!


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Ed Light

Ed was one of four students I interviewed. After retiring from the U.S. military and returning to Michigan he realized he wasn’t ready to just sit still. He also wanted to be able to do something that served his tight-knit, gun-loving community and gunsmithing seemed a perfect fit. He had the opportunity to play with a Bridgeport as a teenager but never had any formal machine training until attending CST. He’s found it incredibly rewarding and hopes to open his own brick-and-mortar gunsmith shop with an emphasis on precision bolt guns. He also noted the value of continued education and will be taking Gordy Gritters’ class after graduating CST. 

Christopher Murphy

Christopher has loved firearms since he was 12 years old. He joined the military in 2019, which further fueled his passion for guns. His favorite part of the program has been the machine shop, an area he had no prior experience in but picked up quickly. He shared that he really enjoys making things and just completed a pistol compensator. Looking forward, he’d like to learn more CNC due to the opportunities it presents over manual machining. Taking a similar approach to Ed, Christopher wants to work under an experienced gunsmith/machinist after CST to keep learning and build a name for himself. His end goal is to have his own shop.

Garrett Hendry

Garrett says it was Ultimate Reloader that inspired him to pursue gunsmithing. Intrigued by precision and machining, Garrett knew a physical school was the best option for him and he has zero regrets attending CST. Building his own rifle from scratch has been his favorite part, along with testing it and seeing what can be improved upon. He noted that the instructors are extremely knowledgeable, especially Mr. John who works on 1911s. Garrett is planning on working for one of his gunsmith friends for a few years so he can continue to learn without having to depend on himself for everything just yet. Like Ed and Christopher, he’d like to have his own shop, but is conscious of the ATF regulations and other items he’d have to learn about and stay on top of.

Sophia Carter

Sophia started shooting cowboy action when she was about 10 years old. She loved the competitive shooting community and guns in general. One of her coaches introduced her to CST and after touring it she fell in love with it and enrolled a year later. She’s been in the program just a few months and has already made her own tools like a model 12 wrench. She explained that students have to make some of their own tools from scratch, keeping to particular specifications. She is most looking forward to working on customer guns from the repair shop as she would like to have her own shop someday and this will prepare her for some of the things she may come across. Sophia’s passion is still cowboy shooting and wants to specialize in lever actions, break-open double barrel shotguns, revolvers, and other old guns. She’d like to have a brick-and-mortar location but would also like to be able to travel to different matches to help the competitors there. 


Talking with current students at Colorado School of Trades gave me even greater insight into the program and what is possible. Whatever your interest or skill level, CST starts with the basics. If you’re interested in attending the Colorado School of Trades, check out their website

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Gavin Gear

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