With gunmaking, due to the lack of available skilled craftsmen, you have two options for the future. You can simplify the job and make the product more of an assembly, thus requiring less skilled workers or you can train your craftsmen in the traditional manner and retain the qualities of your product. At Westley Richards we have always placed a huge emphasis on the bespoke nature of our guns and rifles and as such make every gun on an individual basis, rather than in batches like the other gunmakers. Every gun requires the individual skills of the barrel filer, actioner, trigger man, lock maker, ejector worker, stocker and finisher. All these are individual skills and for each we train an apprentice.
The apprenticeship lasts for 5 years. We have never advertised or sought apprentices but rather wait for enthusiastic youngsters with a passion for guns to come to us and ask for the opportunity to learn the skills. Candidates whom we feel will enhance the team are given a 2 week taster of life on the bench. During this time they will have the opportunity to use the tools of the trade and demonstrate their enthusiasm, those who meet the expectations of the workshop managers will then be offered an apprenticeship on leaving school.
We will continue to employ new apprentices every year as we move forwards and as such are always on the lookout for suitable candidates. Currently our apprentices are learning all aspects of the craft metalwork and stocking. We are also training one in the use of CAD/CAM and machining in conjunction with our engineering business next door