Guild Members Help Their Clients Turn the Dream of a Custom Gun into a Reality

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"Plan Your Perfect Custom Gun” is the theme of a nationwide campaign initiated earlier this year by the American Custom Gunmakers Guild (http://www.ACGG.org) to help introduce a new generation to what it means to create and own a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind firearm.

For nearly 30 years the American Custom Gunmakers Guild (http://www.ACGG.org) has worked to fulfill its goal of “Promoting the artistry of fine custom firearms.” This year, in an effort to increase public awareness and appreciation for quality custom firearms, the Guild launched a national campaign entitled “Plan Your Perfect Custom Gun.”

The non-profit organization, established in 1983 at the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Phoenix, AZ, has more than 450 members. One the Guild’s members is Paul Dressel, Jr., who, along with his wife Sharon Farmer-Dressel, are custom gunmakers in Yakima, WA.

“When I was younger – I can’t remember never having a BB gun,” Paul Dressel said, adding that some of his fondest memories as a youngster involved guns, dogs, boats and fishing.

But Paul had a problem: He was left-handed, and most off-the-shelf guns were not suited to his needs.

“I wanted a left-handed gun – and the only way to get one was to make one,” he said of the decision that would one day lead him to start his own gunmaking business.

Paul’s wife, Sharon, who is originally from southwest Virginia, also has memories of hunting with her father. But it was a chance encounter at a gun shop in Raleigh, NC, that changed her life. That’s where she learned about Montgomery Community College in Troy, NC.

The school is one of about 10 throughout the U.S. that offers gunsmithing courses designed to provide students with the skills to refurbish metal and wood as applicable to firearms, as well as to accomplish more complex custom gunsmithing tasks.

Among other things, Paul and Sharon build bolt-action and single-shot rifles as well as stock shotguns. They are also “Purveyors of fine Turkish Circassian, California English Walnut and other woods for custom gun stocks.”

Another Guild member, Brian E. Board of Nevada, MO, never intended to become a custom gunmaker. He describes it as “a hobby that got away from me.”

Board said he checkered his first gunstock in 1978, adding that, “It went well enough that I liked it and wanted to do more with it.”

He said the hobby became a business while he was completing two agricultural degrees at the University of Missouri. Eventually he heard about the American Custom Gunmakers Guild.

“I saw an advertisement for them in a publication years ago and started trying to figure out who they were,” he said.

After learning more about the Guild and attending a show, he decided to join as a checkering specialist, though he said he does provide “a broad range of gunmaking-related activities.” His business is named Board Custom Gun Stocks.

Board offers this advice to anyone contemplating a custom gun: Make decisions on the functional aspects of the project first.

“They have to know enough about a specific model to know which one they want to start with,” he said, adding that “If you have no end target in mind, you’ll hit it every time.”

To learn more about the Guild and its members, visit http://www.ACGG.org/find which features a link to the Guild’s “Regular Membership List,” where members are categorized by expertise, including Stockmaker, Metalsmith, Engraver, Metalfinisher, Checkering Specialist and Casemaker.

Also, the Guild offers a variety of “Custom Gunmaking Resources” at http://www.ACGG.org/learn. These resources include “Introduction to Custom Guns,” a video that focuses on the various parts and components involved in crafting a custom gun.

Another valuable asset is “Realizing Your Dream,” a comprehensive 60-page workbook that helps gun enthusiasts effectively and efficiently plan and design their custom firearm — whether it’s a single shot or double rifle; a muzzleloader or a shotgun.

For more information about the Guild, its members and the quality of work they produce, visit http://www.ACGG.org, call (307) 587-4297 or send a fax to (307) 587-4297.

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