What is it like? – Ultimate Reloader


What is it like to attend a trade school? Modern society talks a lot about college, but not as much about what to expect from a hands-on program like CST offers. I posed my greatest questions to Ryan Lishner, the owner of the Colorado School of Trades, considering what a high school senior may be wondering! 



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Day in the Life

The Colorado School of Trades encourages each of their prospective students to come take a tour of their 20,000 square foot facility, something too large to fully comprehend without being there.

Ryan explained that while there is classroom time and CST is a school, it has more of an apprenticeship feel. The instructors want the students to get hands-on as soon as possible — this is much more common with a trade school than a traditional college. CST has particularly small class sizes, ensuring that the instructors really get to know the students and find out what learning style is best for each person.

Students also learn a lot about themselves and their interests. CST is designed to take anyone with a general interest in guns (no prior knowledge) and make them employable by the end of the 14-month program. 

The curriculum includes a variety of sub-sections including basics, stock making, and machining.

Students also learn about finances, how to charge for work, ATF compliance, and more. The Design and Function course particularly broadens student experiences.

Students work on customer guns that come into the repair shop, some of which may push them outside their comfort zone. Students also have to make some of their own tools to use throughout the course, further enhancing their understanding.

Student Grinding a Lathe Bit

Instructors are available throughout all of it to support and guide the students. If you make a mistake, someone is there to help fix it. I never went to school for gunsmithing and there are a number of skills I still want to continue to develop.

Attending CST really brings you into a close-knit community and professional network. It isn’t uncommon for graduates and instructors to keep in touch and work together! For even more details about what a day at CST is like, watch the full video! 


Whatever your interest or skill level, CST starts with the basics. These skills can be applied to a number of careers, though gunsmithing is the end goal. 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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