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Murray State College Looks to Add Bachelor of Applied Technology Degree in Gunsmithing

January 17, 2023

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Murray State College has submitted a letter of intent to the Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education to become the only school in the United States to offer a Bachelor of Applied Technology Degree in Gunsmithing. This is the first step of a 16-step process.

“This addition will be a game changer for us,” said Chad Mercer, Murray State College program chair. “People who want to change careers or want a future in a different industry, such as engineering, are able to come to Murray and receive the training that they need to advance.”

Murray State is one of four NRA-affiliated schools in the country. Many of its graduates have gone on to work for the Department of Energy and the US Army Marksmanship Unit. Most government jobs require an individual to have a bachelor’s degree. Students who are motivated and devoted to their education can excel by earning this degree.

Technical skills, such as machining, welding and CAD, are appealing to various industries when it comes to hiring people. The advanced degree will hone in on specific technical skills and help students develop their writing, critical thinking and human skills for greater success in the workplace. These are the skills that the workforce continually requests.

“Our students become more marketable because of the various skills that they learn outside of specific gunsmithing techniques,” said Becky Henthorn, Murray State College Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. “We are meeting the need that no one else in the country can. Industries need students with these skills, and we have the ability to help them.”

There are hundreds of good paying jobs that exist, in the gunsmithing area, for positions that require the mastery of such skills, many of which are listed on Oklahoma's critical occupations list.

The bachelor’s degree will be an addition to the program; students can earn their associate’s degree and then continue to enhance their skills and knowledge, without searching for another college. A student would have the opportunity to earn up to three degrees and several certificates in gunsmithing at one college.

“The addition of faculty positions will be worth it to give our students the best opportunities possible,” said Dr. Tim Faltyn, Murray State College president, “and to meet the needs of our workforce partners.”

MSC gunsmithing graduates go to work for companies like Briley Manufacturing, Kreighoff Shotguns, Remington Custom Shop, Park West Arms, Nighthawk Custom and more. MSC gunsmithing alumni and president of Hawk & Dove, LLC, Michael Grim, was enthusiastic about the addition.

“As a professional gunsmith skilled in firearm restoration, accuracy enhancement, repair and manufacturing, I am continually searching for personnel skills in CNC, CAD, machining and more,” said Grim. “Graduates who have attained a bachelor's degree from Murray State will receive, and be able to command, competitive wages and benefits while working in a highly technical and challenging environment.”

According to Data USA, the average gunsmithing salary is around $73,000. For students with a bachelor's degree, the salary is estimated to be approximately $92,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “It would only take two additional years, compared to the average four years, in school to earn $19,000 more,” Henthorn said.

The college has a competitive acceptance process, with only 30 applicants accepted into the gunsmithing program each year for the associate’s degree. Applications are accepted in the spring for fall admittance into the program.  Students can begin taking the general education portion at any time.  The application period for fall 2023 is now open until March 21, 2023. An addition of a bachelor’s degree will expand the program’s annual admittance by 15 students.